Manikaran Sahib, Kullu – A short visit

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.


“बाज़ार तो लियान्दा रुमाला ते प्रसाद इत्थे स्वीकार नही कीता जान्दा”

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.

And here’s the history in God’s own language.

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.

30 Comments

  • Col NN Bhatia (Retd) says:

    Thank YOU Nandan Ji for your travelogue. I always like reading and visiting about less traveled places so Manikaran Sahib visit to that extent was very enjoyable. I am Kumaon crazy traveler as I have mostly traveled in that division of Uttrakhand though military service took me to many memorable remote areas in the north east, J&K and Ladakh.too.

  • Jatinder Sethi says:

    I am,unlike most of the commentators ,little confused after reading the post and am unable to make up my mind as to what is the final WORD on this place,by Mr.Jha,to visit the place or not worth it?since there are quite a few negatives mentioned,one was looking for the final clear verdict fo visit or not visit.
    Moreover,normally Mr,Jha gives the rout map which is missing here., Can we have that as we are planning the visit sometime next month…Thanks for intoducing to the historical place,

    • Nandan Jha says:

      Sethi Saheb, I would say that if you take this long a drive then let Manikaran Sahib, be not the only one destination. Kasol is beautiful and then Manali is not too far. And if are in company of young people then there are excellent trekking options too.

      As for route, this story was specifically on Manikaran Sahib. Its on standard Delhi-Ambala-Kharar-Kullu route.

      Next month would be a good time to go, not too cold.

  • jssethi says:

    plz tel me how many tolls tax (with rates) goning to new delhi to Gurudwara Shri Manikaran Sahib

  • Amar says:

    Hi….Friends……..
    I Think You Must go there because it was so beautiful place to see. it was so hora place my dear friends……

  • nandanjha says:

    OK guys. You would have noticed that we have increase the category-list. Previously we were only having the name of the state, now name of the place is also there.

    I guess a more scalable solution would be to have a real neat ‘Destinations’ page where one can navigate through states->places etc.

    Let me think more. Thanks again for the feedback.

  • I feel sometimes it helps to know which state the destination belongs to.
    Share to Facebook is a welcome addition. but may be removing the previous thing is not so nice.

    Anyway as destination portion was updated with those informations, I guess it would not be impacted.

    • Sahil says:

      Dear Mr. Nandan ,

      I think Mr. Manish is right . I too think that having the tags helps one to know easily that the place belongs to which state ( If one is not familiar ).
      I feel displaying tags was a good option along with the Fcbk Like button.

      Sahil

  • nandanjha says:

    Yes. Glad you picked it :-)

    I have added ‘Share to Facebook’ so have removed categories so as to reduce clutter.

  • Beautiful pictures along with the one with Nandan’s trademark (yes, I am talking about the first one) :-)

    Its an eye opener to see the pictures of all religious symbols in the main hall. Thanks for sharing it Nandan. Religions allow people to achieve God and not to make distinctions between His sons.

    Legend of ManiKaran and the Gurudwara – Very Interesting.

    Now something about the tags. Is it decided to remove them or is it a glitch ?

  • Ram Dhall says:

    As Mirza Ghalib said:

    ” Go haath mein jumbish nahin,
    Aankhon mein to dum hai,
    Rahne do abhi saagr-o- meena mere aage.

    Would love to take a trip with you, anytime.

  • Nandan says:

    @ nayan – always

    @ Kumar – Ok. I didn’t know, probably. I am sure that trust wont be lack of funds though maintaining/renovating this kind of structure in that terrain is commendable.

    @ Auro – Thanks. You are being very generous. I would myself want to visit Kasol again, and probably stay in Parvati Kuteer :-).

    @ Ram – I do NOT think I deserve this much appreciation Ram. The highlight of the trip was the drive to Malana and then the trek (whatever little the urban couple could manage). At a right time, lets go together and have some relaxed time.

  • Ram Dhall says:

    The master craftsman has churned out yet another brilliant post. Be it the road reviews, the hotel reviews, the desert safaris or the drive through the hilly terrains of Keylong and Kaza, the ease and perfection, which Nandan describes his visits, is simply remarkable.

    I have been hearing about this historic gurdwara for the last three decades and had a great desire to visit this holy place. Nandan has taken us for the virtual “darshan” of Gurdwara Manikaran Sahib and this post has created an urge to visit the gurdwara.

    Thanks for sharing the this awesome experience.

  • aurojit says:

    Hi Nandan,

    A riveting post on Kasol/Manikaran. On our way to Manali, we gave a miss to this place (supposedly visited by Gurunanak himself), due to lack of time.

    Your narration is so interesting, it will surely make one desire to visit the place. Parvati Kutir debate is still open – I suppose?

    A superb idea – the translation.

    Enjoyed the post – thanks.

    Auro.

  • Manish Kumar says:

    I visited this place 12 years ago. from ur pics it seems this gurudwara has a major face lift. Thx for narrating us story behind its name.

  • nayan says:

    hey……good to see bengali written next to gurmukhi….proud to be a bengali..

  • Nandan says:

    @ Patrick – Yes and I guess some part of uncleanliness might have to do with the rainy season.

  • Nandan says:

    @ Jitu – Thanks

    @ Pat Jones – The location. Yes. Indeed.

    @ Tarun – My wife, Smita, does. She did the great hard work of first getting it into Roman script and then with the help of a trans-scriptor (is this a word ?) she converted this into devnagari script.

    @ Mahesh – Thanks Sir. Yes, and it seems that these sulphur tanks and mostly around religious places, may be a discovery of a sulphur tank makes the place important enough to…

    Smita did the translation. She can read Gurumukhi. It was very handy when we drove to Punjab-HP during our honeymoon :-)

  • Nandan says:

    @ Sahil – Thank you Sahil. Your regular Ghumakkari is a good impetus for me. I wont be surprised to see you getting close to 25 stories within 2010. :-) All the best and thanks for reading and the prompt comment.

    @ sskagra – Thank you.

    @ Indian Thoughts – Yes and usually I have seen Gurudwaras to be very clean so it hits even more.

  • Patrick says:

    Don’t know about the cleanliness but the bath in those sulphur springs was really refreshing and the food was tasty. Did u know you could get a bath for Rs. 30 in Kasol in those same sulphur springs?

  • Mahesh Semwal says:

    Dear Nandan,

    Thanks for explaining how the name of place (Manikaran) originated. Translation of Gurmukhi —– Great Job. How you translated Gurmukhi ?

    One thing I observed that in most of the religious Hill station you can enjoy sulphur thermal spring.

  • Tarun Talwar says:

    Nandan,

    Nice write-up. Do you know punjabi to be able to translate it so well?

  • Patrick Jones says:

    It shone bright in the beginning but sorry to say Nandan, other than the legend associated with the place and the multi-religious corridor, there’s nothing much in it.

    Think one should leave it to the more religiously inclined :-)

  • jitu says:

    hiiiiiiiii nice trevel information of this webite. i am daily visiter of this website. thanx for the above information.

  • Hey, this writeup reminded of my trip last year. Yes its a shock to see such a big gurudwara in such a condition. I was also particularly shocked by uncleanniness of the place.
    And photographs of all different religions impressed me alot.

    I went down my memory lanes :)

  • sskagra says:

    Bhai bah aapne to kamal kar diya mahan sikhiwiki mandir gurduara sab kuchh dekha
    many many Thank

  • Sahil says:

    Great travalogue on Manikaran Sahib . Pics are very good. Thank you Mr. Nandan for taking us there.

    Sahil

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