Manimahesh - A Journey to the Spiritual Abode of Lord Shiva
Himachal Pradesh- An Abode of Gods and Goddesses
Himachal Pradesh is one of the beautiful and bounteous hilly states of India. It is aptly called as an Abode of Gods and Goddesses. People here have a deep and unperturbed faith in their gods, goddesses and many local deities. That is why we encounter many pilgrimages and temples of significant religious and historical importance throughout Himachal Pradesh.
Manimahesh is one such beautiful and sacred pilgrimage located in Bharmour subdivision of Chamba District.
Geographical Location of Manimahesh
Manimahesh lake is a high altitude lake having an elevation of 4,080 meters. It is situated close to Manimahesh Kailash Peak. Kailash Peak is a part of the the Pir Panjal Range of the great Himalayas. The religious significance of this lake is held at par with Lake Mansarovar in Tibet. The sacred journey to Manimahesh Lake is supposed to be complete only if Manimahesh Kailsh Peak is visible.
Why name Manimahesh
Mani means a shining piece of jewel and Mahesh is one of the name of Lord Shiva. One of the most fascinating features of the place is the sunrise which aligns a way that it appears as a jewel on the top of Kailash peak. This vision is rare as the Kailash peak is usually enveloped in fog and mist.
According to a local legend on a clear full moon light, the moonlight reflected from the jewel can be seen in the lake. Some people also say that a ray of light revolves around the peak sometimes.
These phenomenons have a spiritual significance for all the people who come to visit this place in a very large scale from different parts of the country. All the devotees place a strong faith in the sanctity of the lake and the peak.
Kailash Peak Shining like a Jewel (Mani)
Pilgrimage Trek and a Holy Dip
A highly venerated trek known as Manimahesh Nahon (Holy Bath) takes place on the lake during the late August and early September for 15 days in the month of Bhadon as per Hindu calendar. A bath in the lake is considered very auspicious and is believed to cure diseases as well. The bathing ritual is related to the bath taking of Lord Shiva in this Lake. People offer coconuts, flowers and coins as offerings and they also make miniature pebble houses near the lake as a symbol of their desire to posses a house of their owns.
Three Routes to Approach Manimahesh
Manimahesh Lake can be approached from three different routes.
> The pilgrims from Lahul and Spiti follows the path through Kugti pass.
> Pilgrims from Kangra and Mandi takes the Karwasi Pass or Jalsu Pass from Holi village near Bharmour.
> The third and most popular route is Bharmour-Hadsar- Manimahesh route.
The pilgrims walk barefoot along the rocky path to reach Manimahesh lake and pray to Lord Shiva for their desires be fulfilled. The religious significance of this lake is at par to Mansarovar Lake in Tibet.
Myths and Legends of Manimahesh
Manimahesh is a religious and spiritual place of great sanctity to Hindu devotees. This place has many mythical legends attached to it regarding Lord Shiva. As per the popular legend it is believed that Lord Shiva created Manimahesh after he got married to Goddess Parvati.
Legend of Hadsar:
Hadsar is the resting camp of Manimahesh pilgrimage. Some believe this name to be the distortion of Harsar which means Stream of Shiva. There is an old Shiva temple situated and people offer their worship at this place before starting their strenuous journey to seek the blessings of Lord Shiva.
The main Shiva temple is surrounded by 84 more temples and they all are called together as Chaurasi temple. Which means 84 temples. According to one famous legend 84 hermits or sages from Kurukshetra decided to settle in Bharmour and meditated here for a very long period during their visit to Manimahesh Kailash.
Dhancho waterfall is named after shepherds. The word Dhan means herd of sheep and the word chho means waterfall. The trek by the side of this waterfall has many resting camps and free kitchens serving the pilgrims.
There are many legends related to this place. One of the most famous legend is about a demon named Bhasmasur who after getting power from Lord Shiva wanted kill Lord Shiva himself by turning him to ashes with his touch. Lord Shiva was successful in escaping by hiding behind the heavy flows of Dhancho waterfall. Finally Lord Vishnu came to the rescue of Lord Shiva and killed Bhasmasur.
Legends of Monkey Velley (Banderghati) and Bhairav Ghati
The journey to Manimahesh from Dhancho is rigorous as one has to pass through many glaciers, steep rocks, slippery and narrow routes. Due to strong water current and freezing temperature, people have to walk carefully and at some points one need to crawl across. Since people have to crawl like monkeys that is why this place is called as Bandar Ghati or Monkey Velley.
Being a very tough route there is also the option of travelling by road. From Harsar helicopter service is also available which does make the journey very easy. But there are a lot of adventurous and dedicated pilgrims who still opt this route after taking a holy bath at Dhancho Waterfall.
Lord Hanuman who is suppossed to be a half incarnation of Lord Shiva is called as the patron of this part of the journey route.
Similarly, Lord Bhairav is the gaurd of Bhairav ghati route. He is also the gaurd of Manimahesh Lake and Kailash peak, which is also called as Shiva Prol or Gate.
Legends of Manimahesh Peak
There are many legends pertaining to Kailash peak. It is one of the spiritual abodes of Lord Shiva.This peak is supposed to be inaccessible and impassable. Till now all the attempts to reach the top of the Manimahesh peak have been unsuccessful.
Kailash peak is pyramidal in shape. The north-west side of the peak's summit is called as Parvati Kailash. The popular legend regarding the name Manimahesh is as follows:
Lord Shiva went into a trance after the demise of his wife Sati. Gods terrified by the disorder created in the world due to the absence of Lord Shiva (The Destructor) searched for him and found him sitting in deep trance near Manimahesh Lake. His face was radiating like a jewel and thereafter the place is named as Manimahesh. The pilgrimage to Manimahesh is considered complete only after the sight of Mount Kailash which otherwise is covered with dense layers of fog and mist.
A video of Manimahesh Kailash Peak by www.wildfilmsindia.com
Breathtaking Photos of Manimahesh Lake and Kailash
Spirituality and Nature
Being close to the nature means being close to the God. From the hustle-bustle of our busy life its seems a luxury to be able to forget worldly worries and start a refreshing journey to gain spirituality.
The Trek to Manimahesh from Hadsar is rigorous but captivating. The stories, myths and legends associated with the whole region makes the journey livid and exciting. The region ranges from areas with dense forest to permanent snow covered areas, open bare areas to lush green valleys, little rivulets and waterfalls.
The intoxicating smell of various medicinal herbs and flowers makes the journey more mysterious. A dip in Manimahesh lake water makes oneself refreshed and peaceful.
The magical sight of Kailash peak gives wings to imagination because of various shapes which is seen by people and various legends associated with them. As no one could climb the Kailash peak or could cross over it; The Manimahesh Kailash is still a mystery to be solved.