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Showing posts with label Himachal. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Himachal. Show all posts

Jatoli Shiv Temple, Solan

Solan is a small town in Himachal Pradesh, but has one of the oldest breweries in India, is popular as “Mushroom city of India” and is also known as “City of Red Gold”. First 2 are self explanatory, well the "Red Gold" is for the tomatoes production, almost highest in the country.
Solan once a cantonment settlement, is one of the secrets of Himachal to be explored with some beautiful temples and scenic landscapes. Not just temples, Solan is home to tallest Lord Shiva temple in Asia, Jatoli Shiv Temple.

On way to Shimla from Kasauli, via Solan take a right turn on Rajgarh Road and drive for 8 km. to reach the scenic hilltop grand temple. Jatoli Shiv Temple is one of the sacred destinations in Solan, which attracts devotees from all over the country. Jatoli Shiv temple is the tallest temple of Lord Shiva in Asia and is also one of the very ancient temples. It is believed that Lord Shiva had visited this place and stayed for some time and reason behind the 112 ft. height of this temple is the Jatas (Hairs) of Lord Shiva.
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Mohan Shakti Heritage Park, Solan

If you think that mountains are all about valleys, flowing water streams and precisely located temples, well your thoughts may be going for some serious reconsideration. 

Coming from Jatoli Shiv Temple in Solan and after travelling 8 kms towards Shimla, turn right on a narrow downhill road. You have to be a very confident driver for this 7 km. of road, if driving yourself, in order to find this Khul Ja Sim Sim like Treasure of our Heritage.

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Lake Rewalsar...

We started at 8:00 AM from Shimla and took the way to Kullu via Mandi. The objective was to visit Lake Rewalsar, 140 km. from Shimla. Lake Rewalsar (locally called as Tso Pema/ Lotus Lake) along with statue of Padmasambhava (popular as Guru Rinpoche in Tibet) is one of the most popular symbols in Himachal Pradesh tourism advertisements. Surrounded and hidden in rugged mountains this sacred lake is 23 km. from town of Mandi.

It was from this place Indian teacher Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche in Tibet) left for Tibet to spread Mahayana Buddhism in Tibet. Annoyed by fondness of his daughter for long haired Padmasambhava, legend says that the king of Mandi, Vihardhara tried to burn alive the sage Padmasambhava, to prevent his daughter Mandarava running off with him. It is believed that the charred corpse of Padmasambhava liquefied into water forming Lake Rewalsar. The spirit of Padmasambhava is said to still reside in the islands of floating reed since then. Statue of Lord Padmasambhava defines the skyline of Lake Rewalsar.

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Wonderlands around Shimla...

The mountains, when covered with dense forests may look similar, but something is surely in the air. When it comes to driving nothing beats the romance of snaking in the hills around Shimla. Is something actually in the air of Shimla and surrounding places or it is just the unparalleled beauty of this heavenly region...?


Outskirts of Shimla are the places which separates visitors from explorers. If you ask people if they have visited Chail, Kufri, Mashobra and Naldehra; there is good chance to hear that most of the people would have ended on Kufri only. These four locations can be covered in a day if you start from Shimla before the first ray of the sunlight. Though you may also enjoy a night stay of perfect solitude at Chail or at Naldehra.


To explore these out of the world spots where blanket of Pine and Deodar trees grace the landscapes, this eternal vagabond started his early morning drive to Chail (51 km. from Shimla) to get an authentic morning mystic feel of the valleys. Till Kufri (20 Km. from Shimla) you will find many visitors. Once you will move ahead from Kufri, its only nature and yourself, enjoy the symphony of birds chirping, whistling of tree leaves and your camera clicks.

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Mesmerized in Shimla

Some of the places are fortunate to be blessed with all-time pleasant weather and unmatched natural beauty. For such spots you need not plan, just pack your bags and go. Located at a distance of 350 km. from Delhi, Shimla is one such destination. No doubt Shimla is always a preferred attraction in Himachal Pradesh for  tourists from every part of the world. 

Snow-covered peaks and picturesque valleys make Shimla a popular choice for a weekend getaway from Delhi. Excellent road condition from Delhi will ensure a fun filled driving till Shimla. But there is a better option, take a night train from Delhi to Kalka and then enjoy the legendary toy train ride from Kalka to Shimla. If you can afford a little extra time, trust me to take the toy train. Lovely stations and amazing natural settings will bring out your camera much earlier than expected. Start with the lovely Toy train, running on the ancient narrow gauge rails...

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Kullu, the valley of Gods...

A wandering soul searching for a nest can get numerous excuses to surely settle in Kullu, Valley of Gods.


Stunning landscapes coupled with hospitality of people, their distinct lifestyle and rich culture have made Kullu valleys popular as “Valley of Gods”. Kullu is renowned around the world for the woollen Shawls and the Dussehra festival. However, to explore it also has some amazing spots, which despite the popularity of Kullu are surprisingly not so known. When coming from Shimla, spending one day to explore Kullu Valleys shall be a great choice before proceeding to Manali...


Nearest to Kullu is Bijlee Mahadev temple, which is approx. 25 km. from Kullu town by road. Cherish the beautiful Beas River while crossing over the Kullu Bridge on the way to Bijlee Mahadev. You may park your car at a side and click the fabulous bridge and pleasing landscapes...


Once the motorable road ends at Chansari Village; rest of the way, a challenging trek of 2 km. has to be covered solely by your spirits. That’s all what separates you from the blessings of Lord Shiva at Bijlee Mahadev temple.

You have to be in good shape for this trek. The trek is too steep and will take around 60-75 minutes. The bigger the obstructions in my way the higher is the glory in overcoming it. Barely breathing at times, my limits of fitness were being tested at every step in this trek. You might find one or two visitors or trekkers, if you are lucky.
Though creeping at times and stopping quiet often; nonetheless the trek is a beautiful walk in the woods. Trek video...


According to legend this is the place, Mathana where Lord Shiva killed the dreaded demon Jalandhar. As this is the highest point in the region; it had to bear the fury of lightening falling from the skies. As a result, inhabited villages were being damaged frequently due the constant lightings from the skies.


To tame this wild nature, a temple was erected as per the mandate from Lord Shiva to protect the nearby regions from frequent lightings from the sky.


When the limits to human capability are exposed and if you have faith in all mighty, heavens will come to rescue. It is believed that after erection of this temple lightings have stopped. In fact, Lord Shiva has been absorbing the lightings onto him, thereby saving the nearby inhabitations from the wild fury of nature, that’s why the name “Bijlee Mahadev” (Bijlee is known as electricity in English language).


Trek hard Travel harder; it was the time to thank all mighty for his benevolence that I was able to experience this marvelous spot. Rightly said things which are closer to nature are always good for health. Sprawling lawn and view from the top will make this trek worthwhile.



It is believed that Lord Shiva has been residing here since times immemorial in form of this holy Shivling. Also worth mentioning is the story telling paintings of Gods & Goddesses. Every year lightning falls on the holy Shivling and damages it. Shivling is repaired and joined buy the priests of the temple every time.
A while coming down, enjoy mystic view of the Kullu valleys.
As good travellers never take rest, so the next spot in the itinerary to be discovered is Manikaran Sahib. The landscapes during the drive are so pleasant that you will always be in cheerful spirits during the journey.

In the way you will come across the way to Malana, 45 km. from Kullu town (left turn from Malana hydro power project). Trek to Malana is an expedition where you have to touch down the depths of the mighty mountains to reach the Malana Village. At least 3 hours are required to enjoy the Malana trek. It is prohibited to touch the temples and structures. Main attraction in Malana is the distinct architecture of temples and houses.


After Malana continue towards Manikaran Sahib, in the way you will pass through Kasol. Kasol is a lively place where for enjoying water sports like rafting and bridge crossing. Lot of foreigners makes this place an exciting venue for various cuisines and shopping also.


From Kasol only 3.5 km. separates you from the picturesque Manikaran Sahib Gurudwara. Situated in a valley alongside the flowing river, the enchanting landscape makes this place a perfect blend of tourism and spirituality. Go inside the holy place, offer prayers, and feel the quiet ambience.


24 hour free kitchen is run by the Gurudwara for the visitors. Adjoining to Gurudwara is a temple dedicated to Lord Shiva and Goddess Kali. Temple premise include a natural hot water spring with abundant Sulphur, which is very beneficial for skin related diseases. People fill this holy water in plastic containers and take back to their homes. There is also a market on the other side of Gurudwara, you may buy some souvenirs or you can just stand at the cross over bridge and relish the beauty of this place.

Two days are required to relish these incredible spots in the Kullu Valleys; Day one for Bijlee Mahadev, Dhakpo Shedrupling Monastery and local sightseeing in Kullu town. Malana, Kasol and Manikaran Sahib can be covered on second day of the itinerary.


Both treks to Bijlee Mahadev and Malana require one to be in good physical shape. You will come across many spots which you will feel like taking a print and paste in your home.


While In Kullu town, you can also see the shawl making process and buy some shawls, if you like. After Kullu, going to Manali take the road to Naggar Castle. Around 10 km. from Kullu bus stand, located in Kais village is Dhakpo Shedrupling Monastery.


It was inaugurated by his holiness Dalai Lama in 2005. The monastery serves as a centre for the study of Buddhist philosophy...

This monastery houses several Tibetan monks. Apart from incredible architecture, the monastery offers picturesque view of the surrounding valleys.

Moving ahead on the road to Naggar (23 km. from Kullu) there are some beautiful temples at Naggar. First in the way Gauri Shanker temple...



500m. ahead is the Tripura Sundari temple...
About Kullu:
Situated along side Beas River, at a height of 1220 m. Kulu was once known as Kulanthapitha – end of the habitable world. Kullu got connected with motorable roads only after 1947. As a result of this long seclusion Kullu valleys still retain their traditional charm. You will get here an intricate web of valleys, each of which are a visual delight and look more beautiful than the other.
Kullu is at its colourful best during the acclaimed Dussehra festival. Around 4-5 lac people from all over the world come to Kullu to take part in this festival. Dussehra festival starts on Vijaya Dashmi and lass for a week.
To reach Kullu: By road, 530 km. from Delhi, and 240 km. from Shimla. HPTDC Luxury and Volvo coaches ply to Kullu daily from Delhi.

Keep travelling Guys to next destination, Manali and Rohtang Pass...
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Forbidden Republic of Malana

When it is 21st century, it is very difficult to believe about places which are still lying disconnected from the mainland. Malana is such a spot which is 45 km. from much popular tourist destination of Kullu and has been lying isolated from the outside civilization for thousands of years. 


That much mention of such a solitary village was enough to stir the exploring soul of this vagabond. In line to my philosophy that Good travelers never plan in advance, I was on the way to Parvati Valley, situated to the north east of Kullu valley to see the sights of Malana.

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Nahan - for real vagabonding

There are times when urge to travel is so much that destination takes a backseat and we tend to start without any destination in mind. This is when you feel like going for a "Journey without a destination".

While in middle of such a temptation, I decided for some real vagabonding in the himalayan ranges in Nahan region. Totally secluded from the hustles of any type, Nahan is an ideal place to roam around like a free bird. Once out of Delhi the excellent highway ends up adding to your impatience of reaching Nahan as soon as possible. "Resist the temptation". Nahan is a small town and headquarter of Sirmaur district of Himachal Pradesh. Lytton memorial is the entry point and a renowned landmark of Nahan.


There are a few accommodations available here, however locales advised us to go uphill 14 kms. and stay at Jamta. As we had no obligation for destination, we started meandering uphill along the snaky roads.

To our good fortunes Jamta is the highest point in the region and has some very good staying options. With such a view outside your window. One cannot say anything other than Vow, what a place...? Decision to travel without a fixed destination was paying.


This is a place to enjoy your evening tea, morning breakfast alongside the green airs of the hills. One here it was the time to further explore the virgin beauty of this region. We were surprised to know that the largest lake in Himachal Pradesh, "Renuka Lake" is separated from us by a distance of only 27 Kms.


Next morning it was the voyage downhill to Renuka Lake. Every turn of the serpentine drive in the hills will surely keep your cameras in overdrive. Each click of the immensely artistic panoramic caricatures will only lead to click more and more. Enjoying the voyage also bought some envy, it was natural to envy the fortunes of the people living in such a heaven.


While enjoying our drive, we came across a pleasant surprise in the way. Check out the temple situated in middle of a waterfall - "Bedolia Waterfall".


During the rainy seasons the of temple beautifully chisels the down coming waterfall. As this was not the rainy season, so one more visit has to be planned to witness the helpless waterfall. One gets so much engaged here that its natural to forget that we have to drive to Renuka Lake which has been waiting for our arrival. OOPS..."Excess of everything is bad". No issues, we again started towards Renuka Lake. 

Renuka Lake is the largest lake in Himachal Pradesh and is 672 m above the sea level. Renuka Lake is named after Goddess "RENUKA", mother of lord Parshuram. Welcomed by naughty ducks in the pond called "Ram Sarovar", you have entered the place of Renuka Lake which is also very sacred and is worshipped as a holy place. This place is also birth place of Lord Parshuram. Check the history associated with it...

Time to thank the Gods for such a wonderful experience in the Renuka Temple. Every November this temple is a site for annual fair. Saints and devotees from all over the Indian gather here to witness the meeting of Lord Parshuram and Goddess Renuka. 

 


Land locked by the mountains on 3 sides, floating lilies on the water surface, Renuka Lake is as picturesque as your dreams can be...

With a circumference of about 3214 m. this lake is surrounded by a sanctuary too. A leisurely walk into the sanctuary will not disturb the inhabitants, Lions, Bears,...My favorite turned out to be bulky "Mithun Cow"...

The range of flora and fauna in the sanctuary is amazing.

This region can be described as land of valleys, meandering water streams and a place where you can drive throughout the day without getting enough of the place. This was turning out to be more wonderful than any of the expectations. As evening was approaching, settling mist was making the valleys more gorgeous. You can have the liberty of stopping your car, walking down to the bed of the streams and cherish the twilight in the woods...

Once you are back at Jamta, evening and morning tea is also a pleasure. Immerse yourself in an isolated walk in the Shivalik hills and relish the ambience.  

To reach Nahan:

Hit the Roads: 270 Km from Delhi Via: Sonipat-Panipat-Kurukshetra-Karnal-Shahbad Markanda-Kala Amb-Nahan-Jamta

By Train: Nearest railway stations are Ambala, Chandigarh and Kalka and regular bus services connect these stations to Nahan.


While returning to Delhi take the other route (via Dhaula Kuan, Poanta Sahib and Dehradun) and continue exploring more and more.

Another wonderful lake in Himachal Pradesh; worth exploring is Lake Rewalsar which is lying hidden in the mountains, 23 km. from town of Mandi...

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Manali to Rohtang Pass...

Though Manali is a small place, but it is base for onward travel to Rohtang and further to Leh, as widely acclaimed Leh-Manali highway starts from here only. First thing while in Manali is to set off to Rohtang Pass. Start as early as possible, so that you get ample time to enjoy the journey and can get back to Manali before it gets too dark in the evening.

 

In the morning as the sun was spreading its rays from behind the mountains and the city was about to come to life, the moment seemed like the whole world to us. It was an amazing Way to Go...


Well-defined snow capped peaks, Deodar and Pine trees, will give you company on this journey.

Start with adequate winter gear to counter any onslaught of the chilling winds at Rohtang pass. There are lot of shops at the exit of the city which rent out adequate winter gears and drivers insist a lot on taking those clothes from local shops. Time taken to cover 52 km. depends on how frequent you stop to enjoy the ambience. Road is in good condition, however occasional landslides.


However mighty mountains, falling waterfalls will keep you occupied. Click after click continue to capture the opulent nature and the snake roads. make sure you carry a good camera.

Limits of vision were the mountains only and nothing else. As it is said Human will to triumph is above all, we stopped at a place full of eateries. We wondered how much efforts must have been done by these shopkeepers to open such shops at this height. This place is "Marhi" and like everywhere else view from this point was staggering brilliant, barren mountains were incomparable.


We had to stop for 15-20 minutes due to some blasting work being carried out by Border Roads organization. Landslides are frequent here, may be due to lose mountains:


At RohtangThe view was "Incredible".

As our feet are always the best option, we decided to chart the course by walking on for the summit. However now you only must walk and trek, as gone are the days when one could have enjoyed a horse ride to scale the Rohtang peak.

 

Braving the winds and walking on the frozen rivers, one will constantly hear the noise of water gushing underneath the frozen layer of ice. Need not worry keep on moving. There is a small stupa at Rohtang.


Snow at the top was calling us and Step by step we kept on moving and it did not took long to reach the summit, with snow everywhere around. Rightly said "View from the top is what makes the journey of 1000 steps so exhilarating". A sense of Deja Vu ---


Return journey was as usual devoid of any thrill, except the fascinating memories gathered during the day. Fast changing landscapes from hills covered with trees to barren mountains, what a diverse panorama on display here.


While coming back, you can visit or indulge in adventure activities at Solang Valley (14 km. from Manali on way to Rohtang). Enjoy view from the top in the cable car...

Or slide/ glide in the romantic slopes...

Just before the Solang Valley is the entrance for the trek to Anjani Mahadev. Around 30 minutes of trek will take you to the place where waterfall is dripping over the Lord Shiva.
During the winters Shivling rises upto 5ft. in height due to dripping water. People from far off places come here to witness this marvel and offer prayers.

Ambience and surroundings are mesmerizing and you may feel like becoming a monk and stay here forever. Trek is also equally enriching, as one has to actually cross over a stream of water. There is a small cable trolley to cross this stream.

Adventure never stops in Manali. Keep travelling Guys...

The best plans should be kept early during the trip as one snowfall or landslide, the Leh Manali highway, which is the road to Rohtang gets closed. So, when in Manali first thing to do is to head straight to Rohtang.


Someone rightly told that you have to be lucky also to experience Rohtang.

Permit is required to visit Rohtang and beyond, please use the link for applying and getting the permit http://admis.hp.nic.in/ngtkullu. 400 Diesel vehicles and 600 Petrol vehicles are allowed during the day. To return to Delhi, book a Volvo or take any state roadways bus. Prior booking is advised for both options.

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Spirituality Quest: Dharamsala-Mcleodganj

Dharamshala is a name or better a destination synonymous with peace, tranquil environment, spirituality, great food, home to his holiness Dalai Lama, Tibetan government-in-exile,  and above all "Teachings of LORD BUDDHA"


Situated in Kangra Valley-Himachal Pradesh, Dharamshala is easily approachable by roads from the nearest railway stations of Pathankot (85 Km.) and Chakki Bank (89 Km.). Himachal Pradesh tourism buses/ AC Volvo buses ply regularly from Delhi and it takes around 12 hours to reach Dharamshala. Place yourself peacefully in a comfortable bus from Kashmere Gate, Delhi (Maharana Pratap ISBT) and open your eyes in the morning to an altogether different world:
 

Don't worry about the shelter. There are many options to stay, suited to all pockets, choose yours:





Exuberance of nature is visible everywhere in the form of spectacular landscapes and magnificent skyline dominated by Dhauladhar ranges (Himalayan ranges). Explore with the best option i.e. on your feet by means of a leisurely walk:



Dharamshala is not only about monasteries, calm and serene surroundings. It is also home to the highest cricket stadium in India and which is perhaps one of the biggest attraction in world cricket now:
 

Watching cricket at the backdrop of the mighty Himalayan ranges is an unparalleled delicacy and a memoir worth lifetime. If somehow you feel getting bored by cricket, just turn your eyes to the other side of the stadium and enjoy the emerald Dhauladhar ranges:  
Half an hour drive from Dharamshala will take you to Mcleod Ganj (or Upper Dharamshala), a suburb of Dharamshala. En route to Mcleod Ganj, keep on cherishing the unspoiled natural extravaganza and breath taking views:




One of the much talked point near to Dharamshala is "CHURCH of St. JOHN in the WILDERNESS". Situated at Forsyth Ganj, this Church is the final resting place of Lord Elgin, the 2nd viceroy of India. As the name speaks, the church is lying unattended with no caretaker and sports a deserted and haunted look. Check out yourself...
   

Do not miss this from your itinerary. If you are scared lets proceed for the Dalai Lama temple in McLeod Ganj.
Try out rotating wheels of fortune:
Temple has also got a collection of exquisite paintings:



Being the home of Dalai Lama, Mcleod Ganj is also a home to a large Tibetan population which runs a number of handicraft shops and restaurants in the place, most notable are the incense sticks prepared by "Tibetan Children's Vilalge". Dharamshala sleeps by 8 PM, while McLeod Ganj keeps awake till late night.

Mcleod Ganj is also known for its lip smirking delicious food, do not miss out satiating your taste buds at this immensely popular restaurant Mcllo. This food joint is always crowded and is frequented by visiting dignitaries and sports persons.






Even the small joints are worth a visit or two. Four Seasons Cafe serves lip-smacking English breakfast to start with and most enjoyable freshly-baked thin-crust pizza among its wide menu. Norling, which boasts of being recommended by 'Highway on my plate' series for its delectable Chinese preparations, is not heavy on pocket too. 
Apart from a nice tip, all you would feel like to leave are the empty bowls and plates.



While enjoying the nature and other delicacies in Dharamshala, its natural to forget that you have to return back too. With a calm mind and refreshed soul, but a heavy heart it was the time to return. One trip might have finished, however the quest to find the meaning of life will continue; as also preached by his holiness Dalai Lama...

Looks like the journey has just began...

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