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’.
ADB funds Rs. 1900 crore tourism project for Himachal
The design of the project is based on the detailed baseline data, a study conducted of 324 sites in 12 districts of the state, suggestions obtained from about 90,000 tourists.
Shimla: The Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Government of India has approved a tourism infrastructure development project worth about Rs. 1900 crores to be funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for development of tourism infrastructure in the urban and rural areas of Himachal Pradesh.
With the help of this ADB funded project, the state would develop tourism in rural, unexplored areas and improve the infrastructure of the towns and also generate employment for the local youths and showcase Himachal as the best natural tourist destination state, the State Government informed.
Additional Chief Secretary, Tourism Ram Subhag Singh further informed the project would be completed in eight years.
The project is supposed to focus on diversification of tourism to new and rural areas by developing tourism infrastructure, create livelihood and employment opportunities through rural, adventure and ecotourism.
The project also mentions the application of innovative models like incentive-based mechanisms for community-based tourism activities, augmentation of services like water supply, sewerage, solid waste, skill development related to the tourism sector, advertising and marketing etc.
He claimed it would be one of the finest examples of sustainable tourism in the Himalayan States.
The project will have both hard and soft components and will include beautification of towns, development of unexplored areas, conservation and restoration of heritage buildings, infrastructure development in adventure, eco, rural tourism with an emphasis on community participation and employment generation.
The design of the project is based on the detailed baseline data, a study conducted of 324 sites in 12 districts of the state and suggestions obtained from about 90,000 tourists and designed in line with sustainable tourism guideline for the Himalayan States.
The Government said the Department of Economic Affairs was satisfied with the performance and progress of the State on the ongoing ADB funded project of about Rs.600 crores.
Future of India is in tourism, says Alphons at conference on Himachal’s eco-tourism potential
Shimla: The Union Minister of State for Tourism Minister K. J. Alphons on Tuesday said the future of India is in tourism as the global tourism witnessed a growth of 7 per cent, while tourism in India grew by 15.6 per cent.
He was speaking during the inauguration ceremony of the two days International Conference on ‘Eco-Tourism Potential in Himachal Pradesh’ organized by the State Forest Department and Eco-Tourism Society of Himachal Pradesh at the Atal Bihari Vajpayee Institute of Mountaineering and Allied Sports, Manali in Kullu district.
It is true that the potential of tourism in Himachal is promising. Sadly, the previous government of the both ruling and opposition parties did not do much to encourage eco-tourism or environmental conservation. The efforts were limited to announcements and proposals.
Some of the appreciable steps in this regard, which are very rare, were a ban on plastic bags and thermocol cups and plates.
All major international tourism destinations of the State have witnessed an unplanned growth of concrete and rise in the daily generation of solid waste. However, except for Shimla town, none of the other districts has a solid waste treatment plant. The Municipal Councils of these towns are still using landfills.
It was only recently in 2018 that the State Government made an announcement for the establishment of waste management plants in various districts. However, the government did not provide any deadline for the completion.
New Announcements of HP Govt
On Tuesday, the Himachal Pradesh Government has announced the development of 113 sites boost the eco-tourism. Out the total, five sites would be developed in a Public Private Partnership mode. Other 16 sites would be developed by the State Forest Department and 47 by the HP the State Forest Corporation. These agencies would are supposed to start eco-tourism activities at these sites.
It was announced that 25 new destinations would be developed by constructing log huts for tourists.
Three eco-tourism hubs would be developed during the current financial year and 10 places would be developed as adventure tourism spot of Himachal in collaboration with Eco-Tourism Society, Tourism Department and Mountaineering Institute, Manali.
Further, the government claimed that 31 eco-tourism circuits has been prepared and would be sent for approval to the Centre.
Nature parks and herbal gardens are being developed in the State and as many as 50 Forest Rest Houses have started eco-tourism activities in the State. It said efforts would be made to link eco-tourism with the rural life, culture and traditions.
The government expects it would not only give a boost to the unexplored and virgin tourist destinations of the State but also help in boosting economic activities in the rural areas of the State.
The government said it would spend Rs 50 crore on a new scheme ‘Nayae Rahaien Nayae Manzilain’, under which new tourist destinations would be developed in the State.
The government has banned the use of thermocol cup plates in the State from June 5 on the occasion of World Environment Day. These steps would go a long way in ensuring a clean environment of the State.
The eco-tourism could have several components such as trekking, mountain biking, river rafting, skiing, heli-skiing, camping, rock climbing, bird watching etc.
The government said the exploration of new destinations would not only provide much-needed solace to the tourists visiting these pristine new places in the State but also lessen the burden on already crowded tourist destinations of the State.
The Government would also associate private players to invest in eco-tourism projects.
The Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur filled a membership form of Eco Club on the occasion. Several MoUs for eco-tourism projects were signed on the occasion between different organizations and companies.
The left bank Manali road would be taken up through World Bank of CRF funding for its timely completion.
The announcements do sound appreciable, but in reality, the government is still struggling even to provide basic facilities to the public. The tourism industry in Shimla had taken a hit due to the water-scarcity caused by mismanagement and preparedness of the government.
Himachal seeks Rs. 300 crore from Centre to promote religious tourism circuit and eco-adventure tourism
Shimla: The Himachal Pradesh Government has urged the Union Minister for Tourism, K.J. Alphons to sanction three schemes worth Rs. 300 crore to promote religious tourism circuit and eco-adventure tourism in the state.
The Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur, during a meeting in New Delhi, apprised the Minister that Himachal was also a major centre of religious tourism and religious tourism circuits will be developed here to provide devotees more facilities.
The Chief Minister also invited Union Minister to Himachal and said that he himself will take him to the tourist destinations of the State. K.J. Alphons whole-heartedly accepted the invitation.
Chief Minister also urged the Centre to provide funds generously for widespread publicity of tourism sites in the state.
The Union Minister of State for Tourism assured the Chief Minister that the Union Government will extend all possible support to this hill state for exploitation and expansion of its tourism potential.
The Chief Minister said that the focus should be on tourism in the state, which was not given before. However, now the state government is giving special emphasis to strengthening infrastructure in virgin natural places, he said.
Himachal has immense potential for adventure tourism and adventure sports like mountaineering, biking, river rafting, and paragliding and the state is considered as a paradise for these adventure sports.
However, it is true that the governments have done very little to polish and maintain the tourism sector.
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