KASOL
Most of you might have heard this name & many might have a strong urge to visit there too. A small town in Himachal Pradesh famous for weed plants. Kasol is been well-liked by Gen Y & has gained more popularity because of the hippie crowd & pleasant climate.  

Weed Leaf
Kasol, Himachal Pradesh

Just 5 km ahead of Kasol is a sacred locality of MANIKARAN, with steam billowing continuously from the core of the earth.

Yes, you heard that right. Manikaran is one of the natural hot water springs, out of 350, spotted in India. 

HOW WE GOT THERE?

We had planned this trip to explore Kheerganga. Trekking across the mountains in September & staying at the hilltop was one of our motives. While moving ahead of Kasol, towards Barshaini, the fumes coming out of nowhere was magnetizing. Nearing this place gave us a glimpse of hot water flowing into the Parvati river & that is when we decided to just hop into this place.

MANIKARAN

A sacred place of different religious beliefs makes Manikaran worth visiting. Located between the high terrain mountains, we walked approx 100m downhill to access the hot water springs. Crossing the bridge over the river, which is the best place to spot the natural geysers, we reached our destination. It’s mind-boggling to experience that you are standing in freezing cold weather & out of nowhere hot water ( trust me it’s literally hot) is pouring out.
The first halt we took was at Manikaran Sahib Gurdwara. Build impeccably on the mountain & squeaky clean. As soon as we entered the vicinity, there was a huge pool of lukewarm water but restricted for visitors to take a dip. After cleansing ourselves we went upstairs for Gurdwara. It is adorned with mirrors everywhere & radiates good vibes to you.
Gurdware gaye aur langar ka khana nahi khaye toh kya khaak gurdware aaye!!
Yes, the langar was a mandate savor for us. 

Manikaran sahib Gurdwara
Manikaran Sahib Gurdwara
Manikaran sahib entrance & the hot water pool
Manikaran sahib entrance & the hot water pool
Inside view of Manikaran sahib Gurdwara
Inside view of Manikaran sahib Gurdwara
Beautifully decorated interiors of the Gurdwara, with mirror work.

#TravellikeAPro: You have to grab your own plate & spoon, also clean them once you are done. Take only how much is required as they don’t encourage wasting of food. 

This gurdwara also has a hot cave just beneath it. As we were approaching these caves, we could feel the increasing intensity of warm waves. Tourists were allowed to access this cave. As soon as I entered this small room, I was perspiring because of the heat waves coming from the stones it was built. For a few seconds, I felt like walking on burning charcoal. We could barely stand inside. Surprisingly, prayers are held inside these hot caves.

Hot cave
Hot cave
Hot caves used for prayers
Hot caves used for prayers

#TravellikeAPro: Moving upstairs was a large pool, that accumulated the water of divine geysers. You can take a dip in this holy water. 

Apart from providing food, Gurdwara sahib also has an accommodation facility for free. You just need to do the registration formality & bingo… you are done.

#TravellikeAPro: If you are on a budget trip, you can make Manikaran as your base rather than spending hefty amount on stay.

SHIVA TEMPLE

Adjacent to Gurdwara is the Shiv Temple. There is a beautiful story, as to why the water broils in Manikaran. 

It was then, Lord Shiva & Goddess Parvati were smitten with the beauty of  Himalayas & decided to stay here for a while. According to the belief, this was their home for about 11,000 yrs for meditation. While they were residing, goddess Parvati lost her precious jewel (mani) of her earring in the watercourse. Finding his better half upset over the loss of jewel, Lord Shiva ordered his Gana’s & Bhoota’s to search for the jewel. Unfortunately, they couldn’t unearth it, which made Lord Shiva furious & open his divine eye. This incident gave rise to goddess Naina, who informed that the mani lying with Shesh Nag, the serpent god. To avoid the horrifying reaction of Lord Shiva, Gods pleaded Shesh Nag to release the mani & pacify Lord Shiva. The hissing of the Shesh Nag to return the mani; is the cause of the boiling water.
This legend is the reason behind the name MANIKARAN ( mani- jewel & Karn- ear) 

Shiva temple at Manikaran
Shiva temple at Manikaran

There is also a story of Sikh belief. While passing through Manikaran, Guru Nanak dev Ji made a halt here along with his disciple Bhai Mardana. Guru Nanak dev Ji sent Bhai mardana to collect food for the langar. While they started preparing food, they realized that there was no fire to cook the food. As instructed by Guru Nanak dev Ji, Mardana lifted a stone where the hot spring appeared.
Now while cooking rotis, they sank in the water. As advised by Guru Nanak dev Ji mardana prayed to god if the float back the roti’s he will donate his life to god.” And the miracle happened, the rotis started floating back.

This miraculous, hot water has some healing power in it. Locals & tourists make the utmost use of this water. They cook, they farm, they drink & whatnot…

Amidst the high mountains rising, Manikaran is just a stone throw away from Kasol giving you a picturesque landscape. Nestling Shiva temple, a gurdwara & the hot water springs, what can be more inviting?  But before visiting here, don’t forget to go through the travel tips below.

BEST TIME TO VISIT

April to October. 

NEAREST CITIES

Kasol: 4.5 km (approx)
Bhuntar: 35 km (approx)
Kullu: 44 km (approx)
Manali: 79 km (approx)
Mandi: 94 km (approx)
Shimla : 247km (approx)
Chandigarh: 274km (approx)

HOW TO REACH

By Rail: Pathankot is the nearest railway station.
By Road: Cities like Shimla, Pathankot, Bhuntar, Chandigarh & New Delhi has good frequency of local buses.
By Air: Bhuntar airport is the nearest one (Code: KUU) which is about 35 km (approx 2 hrs drive).

Major airport is Chandigarh (Code: IXC), which is about 298  km (approx 10 hrs drive).

 Whether you come by rail or air, the later portion, i.e. from Bhuntar,  has to be covered by road. The journey to reach Manikaran is a combination of 2 modes of transport.

SIGHTSEEING & EXCURSIONS

Kasol
Kheerganga trek
Solang Valley
Rohtang pass
Tosh 
Kalga 
Tulga
Pulga
Malana 
Chalal

APPROX COST OF THE TOUR

Consider stay & food to be free, as the Gurdwara provides these services free of cost.
We spent approx 15K per person that includes 7N stay in hotels/ camps, all meals, to & fro air travel, bus travel for internal commutation, shopping & other miscellaneous expenses

For more musings do visit my blog travel-o-graphy.co.in & follow me on Instagram @travel_o_graphy.

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