As heat in Delhi became unbearable, as we gave up on staying alive in the huge bar-be-que that seemed to follow us wherever one would go, and finally as our frustration psyched us out since we could not find an appropriate, worthy, exciting place for our holiday – along came Kasol. To make the deal more lucrative, it came across that Gurudwara Manikaran Saheb was close-by, hence a visit was warranted.
Upon reaching Kasol, we realized that Gurudwara Shri Manikaran Sahib was only about 10 Kms from our hotel (Parvati Kuteer) and on Day 2 of our Kasol Getaway, we scheduled the drive to Manikaran. Leaving apart the passionate pilgrims racing towards the Gurudwara, the route is really scenic and calm. River Parvati keeps you company all the way to the Gurudwara, which is on the other side of river, connected through a sturdy bridge.
The parking of Gurudwara Sahib is unorganized so I would recommend that if you see or anticipate too many visitors, then try to rather find a shoulder on the road itself. It can be quite a drive going down and more so when you want to come up and join the main road.
As you walk about a furlong and pass under a wooden portico kind of thing, the big facade of Manikaran Saheb appears on your right, separated by a bridge. Standing tall alongside a roaring Parvati, amid mountains, its a sight to behold. Like most of the Sikh pilgrimage, it was a White structure appearing calm and unmoved.
There is a temple/deity before the bridge so after paying obeisance we moved ahead. It was late June and in the middle of week and I do not think it was a special day yet there were quite a few pilgrims were to be seen hustling and shoving the way in. I would imagine that on a weekend or on special days, it must be jam-packed with devotees.
So you pass the bridge and enter the main building.
Before we move ahead, here’s one of the (many) legends behind the name
“………Legend has it that once Lord Shiva and his divine consort Parvati were wandering in this sublime environment. Shiva liked the place and started meditating. Meanwhile, Parvati started taking a bath in the blue waters. While she was playing in the water she lost a jewel from her ear ring her earring. Shiva was enraged when he could not get find the jewel in the water and started doing Tandav, his dance of destruction. The atmosphere grew tense and Shiva threatened a large serpent swimming in the swirling waters as he figured he had stolen the beautiful jewel from Parvati’s ear ring. (As you may know serpents and dragons are often depicted in Tibetan art holding a jewel in their mouth.) However the serpent gladly fished the jewel out from the waters. Thus the river came to be known as Parvati and the place was called Mani (jewel) Karan (ear). ……….” – courtesy Sikhwiki (http://www.sikhiwiki.org/index.php/Manikaran_Sahib)
The whole building has multiple floors.
The main entrance takes you to the ground floor/basement. This houses washrooms and the famous ‘Sulphur Springs’. For the first time, I saw this in action. The area has been very well concertised, its almost like a small swimming pool getting fresh-hot water from underground. The strong smell of Sulphur can not be missed. If you want to take bath, go for it. We could see a number of male devotees taking the holy dip. There is a separate closed area for the women. It is said that this water cures skin ailments. I touched the water and it was more than warm.
While getting in the Gurudwara over the bridge, we noticed that everyone was carrying big bags and were wondering why. After visiting the Sulphur spring tank, we knew the answer.
We came out, headed for first floor. As we were looking around, to our pleasant surprise we found instruction messages in various languages.
The first floor has the langar-hall. As you would know that in Sikh’s places of worship, i.e. Gurudwaras, there is usually a round the clock langar (community feast) and one can get fresh-clean food ir-respective of gender/caste or community. In fact, the langar is also cooked in the waters of the holy springs – as per my unverified info, sacks of rice are immersed in the boiling water and are taken out after a few minutes, voila! The rice is done.
By now, we were frantically searching for the ‘Joota Ghar’ (shoe house). Having visited a number of big gurudwaras, I was always impressed by their well managed Joota-Ghars and was more than confident and there would be one waiting for us. An unorganized parking should have warned me though. Also, there was a lack fo sevadars guiding the rush to right places. Most of the folks were on their own.
The growing rush, Sulphur smell, adventurous parking ride and no Joota-Ghar were begining to have a comprehensive attack on my better half and I decided that we would hurry up. Remember, that while I so conveniently write about various floors and each floor having a particular stuff, in reality we didn’t know this. We were discovering it as we were moving on.
So we climbed one more floor in a scarcely lit, moist set of steps, managing our way up and found the ‘Granth Sahib’ hall. I stayed out while my wife and daughter went in to get the blessings.
While waiting, I figured that there were indeed rooms for pilgrims to freshen up and one can book those. One other thing which was a bit unlike Gurudwaras was cleanliness. Usually we have found them to be very clean but this was an exception. But the biggest surprise was that the corridors had framed pictures, of Gods and Goddesses, across various religions – something that you rarely see in most religious shrines. There were pictures of Shiva, Vishnu, Durga, Ram, Krishna and more, along with the Christ and Mother Mary, paintings of the Mecca, Muslim Inscriptions, Lord Buddha, Lord Mahaveer and so on.
Inside the main hall, which is pretty big, one can sit there and listen to the raagis singing devotional keertan. You are now on the 3rd floor so you get a better view from those large windows.
Please pardon the bad translation/trans-scripint
इतिहास ते महत्तता
मणिकरण प्राचीन समय तों ही ब्राहिमांड विच सभ तों उत्तम तीरथ मनिया गया है. ब्राहिमांड पुराण विच वेद ने इस दा नाम हरी हर आखिया है. इस्स दा दूसरा नाम अर्ध नारीश्वर, ते तीसरा चिन्तामणी है. ईथे भगवान शंकर जी ने माता पार्वती समेत 11,000 साल तप कीता. इक दिन ‘जल क्रीड़ा’ कार्दियाँ माता पार्वती जी दी चिन्तामणी डिग्ग गयी, जो सीधी पाताल लोक विच शेषनाग कोल पहुँच गयी. इस ते अधिकारी जां तां शंकर जी सन जां तां शेष नाग. शंकर जी ने अपने गना नू मणि तलाश करण लई भेजिया पर मणि ना मिली, शंकर जी गुस्से विच आके तीसरा नेत्र खोलन लगे तां सारी धरती कांप गयी, तद् शंकर जी दे नेत्रा विचों नैना देवी प्रगट हुईं. मणीकरण नैना देवी दान जनम अस्थान है. नैना देवी ने शेष नाग नू मणि वापस कारण लई कहा, शेष नाग ने फुँकारे राही मणि भेंटा कर दित्ति. इस लई इस अस्थान दा नां मणिकरण हो गया. शेषनाग ने शंकर जी नू खुश करण लई अनेकां मनियाँ भिजवानियाँ शुरू कर दितिया. शंकर जी ने माता पार्वती नू अपनी मणि पहचानन लई कीहया, बाकी मणियाँ नू पत्थर रूप रहन दा श्राप दित्ता ताकि कलयुग विच आ के लोक झगड़े ना करण.
मणिकरण दा सारा इलाक़ा गरम है
कलयुग विच श्री गुरुनानक देव जी ने अवतार धरिया. संसारी जीवा दा उद्धार कर्दे 15 अस्सू 1574 सम्वत नू बाले ते मर्दाने समेत मणिकरण पहुँचे, इत्थे आ के मर्दाने नू भूख लग गयी ते गुरु जी नू कहिन लगा, मेरा कौल आटा तां है पर आग्ग ते बर्तन दा कोई साधन नहीं है. इह सुन के गुरु जी ने मर्दाने नू एक पत्थर परे हटावन् लई कीहया. जद्दो मर्डाने ने पत्थर परे हटाया, ता हेत्थोन (नीचे से) उबल्दे पाणी दा चस्मा पराप्ट हुईया. गुरु जी ने उस नू रोटियाँ घड़ के पाओन लई कीहया. जद्दो मर्दाने ने रोटिया पाइयाँ ता सारी रोटियाँ डूब गईयाँ. हैरान होया मर्दाना कहिन लगा, थोड़ा जीह्या आटा सी ओ व्हि डूब गया. गुरुजी कहिन लगे, मर्दानया अरदास कर, इक रोटी रब दे नां दी छडेगा. मर्दाने दे अरदास करण ते सारी रोटियाँ पॅक के तर आईआ. मर्दाना बहुत खुश होया. भोजन छक के तृप्त होया, आखन लगा “गुरु जी, इत्थे ही रह पईए, तुहानु तां भूख लगदी नहीं, मेरा कॅम आसानी नाल चल्दा रहेगा”. गुरुजी कहिन लगे “मर्दानिया, इह सतयुगी अस्थान है, सतयुग विच इस दी बहुत महत्तता होवेगी”. आज वी गुरु जी दे प्रगट कित्ते चश्मे विच यूसियी तरह लंगर पक्दा है. सन् 1840 विच सच खंड वासी संत बाबा नारायण हरी जी ने इस अस्थान दी खोज कीति ते निर्माण आरंभ कीता. इस समय पूज्य देव जी इस अस्थान दे मुक्खि ते पूज्य बाबा जी दे दामाद बाबा श्री राम जी प्रबंध कारज संभालदे हां.
We spent sometime there, felt divine and came out light and complete. A few pics later, we were back to our hotel.