Shrikhand Mahadev- A heavenly Himalayan trek
Shrikhand Mahadev, one of the toughest pilgrimages in India, is known for Lord Shiva in Hindu Mythology. It also makes a thrilling and adventurous trek in Himachal. It takes you amidst the lavish and beautiful setup of mighty Himalayas to the top of the Shrikhand Mahadev peak at a height of 16900 feet above the sea level. This holy destination is situated Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh.
What you should know about the trek/pilgrimage
June and July are the most ideal months to take up Shrikhand Mahadev trek. Though it’s summer time, one should always be prepared to face untimely rain and even snow fall. In the peak pilgrimage time, it is very easy to find food, water and sleeping bags. Still it is advisable that you take your own sleeping bags and some of other daily need supplies with you, but at the same time try to keep your luggage very light. Do not over-pack, but make sure you carry water bottles, glucose sachets, warm clothing, rainwear, flashlights and dry fruits.
This is a 35 km harsh track to trek and not meant for physically ill and weak hearted. The trek ascends through the alpine meadows to a 72 feet pinnacle of rock called Shivlinga. The yatra takes 10 days to complete and is organized by the Government of Himachal Pradesh. So, before you start your yatra, the registration becomes mandatory.
The folklore behind Shrikhand Mahadev
According to the folklore and the legends, there lived a demon called Bhasmasur. He preached and pleased Lord Shiva through hard penance. Lord Shiva responded to him and accorded him with a power and called it basma kangan. Now, Bhasmasur turn anything he touched into ashes.
Image: Exotic India Art
Bhasmasur, drenched in his ego and pride, thought of turning Lord Shiva into ash. Lord Shiva vanished into the cave and appeared on the mountain top, as he took help of Lord Vishnu. Vishnu transformed himself into a female enchanter, Mohini, and tricked Bhasmasur to touch his own head and turn burn himself with his own hands. Mountain top, where Lord Shiva stood is known as Shrikhand Mahadev.
Journey Start at Jaon and Singhad
The pilgrims start their yatra at village called Jaon village, 170 km from Shimla and 200 km from Kullu by car. Singhad, the base camp, reaches after trekking just 3 km, which is the last habitation. After this the point the trekking requires periodic stops for taking rest and adaptation to the climate.
One thoroughly enjoys the pilgrimage in the beautiful landscape of Kullu and the part of Himalayan range in this region. Alpine meadows take you through the exquisite experience to witness the most beautiful landscape of Himalaya. The whole experience is like an access to stairway to heaven.
Trekking Uphill Thachru
The first uphill trek starts and takes you to Thachru. One gets to see lush green, deodar trees, brooks and stream in the way. The first goal will be to reach Barathi Nalah at 7200 ft. This is a place of confluence of two small rivulets and is a place to take rest.
From here onwards, there is a vertical 6 km climb till Thachru begins. To reach Thachruone has to face a vertical climb at Danda Dhaar. In the midway one encounters change in vegetation, the scenic view of Kullu Himalayan range. Through the water gurgle and birds chirp, first day ends for the resting time at Thachru, which is at some 11300 feet.
Before you reach Parvati Baag, trek first takes you to Kali ghati or Kali top from Thachru. There is straight 3 kms climb uphill to reach Kali-top. You’ll get a chance see some very rare Himalayan flowers on the way.
After total of 2.5 hrs of walk, an open place appears. Kali top or kali Ghati is the top of Danda Dhaar at around 13000 feet. The climb up from Barathi Nalah ends here.
This place makes one feel close to Lord already. The panoramic view of Himalayas captivates the spectators with its jaw-dropping beauty. There is also a small temple dedicated to kali on Kali-Top.
Trek to Kunsa
After worshiping Kali next journey begins and takes thea 1.5 KM trek leads you to Bhim Talai. After Bhim Talai, you start climbing the mountain to reach Kunsa. It’s a smooth trek of 3 kms.
In between are a wide open grass land and a 500 meters long and 80 meters wide glacier around. Kunsa is located at a height of around 13000 feet climb. Kunsa is the place of water falls in a setting
Right after Kunsa is 3 kms walk to reach a place called Bhim Dwar. From kunsa it can takes around 2 hours to reach Bhim Dwar. Here, again, you come across rare Himalayan flowers. This picturesque and exciting landscape with deep gorges, big waterfalls with streams flowing down, gives you a fit of thrill. Picture Bhim Dwar as huge grazing ground surrounded by waterfalls. It is said that ‘Pandavas’ stayed here during their exile.
On the way to the Parvati Baag exist all these breathtaking waterfalls. The yatra already seems to be fruitful till you reach the door of the god.
Parvati Baag to Shrikhand Mahadev
Parvati Baag is at 13600 feet, after crossing the water fall, Parvati Baag come after a climb uphill. Parvati Baag is a place of halt just before reaching the destination. As per legends this was the place chosen by mata Parvati for stay.
Some of the rarest flowers are found here too, like ‘Brahma Kamal’. This is the place right below Shrikhand Mahadev and is another halt in the lap of nature.
The final trek starts the next day. Early morning, the trek to Shrikhand starts so as plenty of spare time is left to admire the place and start the journey downhill as well.
This is a tough trek; hurdles of glaciers, cold weather and altitude altogether add adventure to the trek. Trek will take you to the Nainsar Lake first, and will continue until you reach at a height of 14500 ft after a vertical climb.
Strong will to reach the destination towards Lord Shiva,chants of ‘Har Har Mahadev’, and ‘Om Namah Shivaye’ make the trek easier and one forgets the coarse climb. You start realizing that you efforts are worth a touch of nature endowed with pure Himalayan beauty.
Reaching Shrikhand takes crossing moraines, small stone tunnels, and seven small peaks. In this amazing trek, one feels as if he or she is walking on the clouds, close to sky.
At around 16000 feet is Bhim Baiee. Here, the rocks and stones, piled over each other, contain certain peculiar marks, which appear to have been engraved. It is said that Bhim once wanted to construct stairs to heaven from here but could not complete it due to time constraint.
If you observe, you’ll be amazed to realize that the stones are actually packed on top of each other like stairs. At half an hour away from here, finally, a path on top of glaciers takes the pilgrims to the Shrikhand Mahadev. Here, a huge rocks stand in the shape of ‘Shivling’.
It is a magical moment as one reaches the top; it enchants the devotee with divine waves of emotions. Thrills and chills move you inside out, also as one can feel the effusion scenic of mountains all around. The tall standing pinnacles of rock here symbolize the lord Shiva and his glory in the form of the ‘Shivling’.