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’.
Amidst wild animals, without electricity, phone or clock, an old woman lives alone in Great Himalayan National Park
SHIMLA- Have you ever thought of living your entire life in wild, without electricity and electronics, and even a clock? How about the Great National Himalayan Park that is recognized by UNESCO for its incredibly rich bio-diversity? The 754 square kilometer National Park houses 31 mammal species including leopards, the Himalayan black and brown bear, and the ghost cat – snow leopards. There are over 300 bird species, reptiles, hundreds of insect species amid rich Himalayan flora and fauna. It sounds more like a Hollywood adventure movie. Is it possible to live in such a harmony with nature?
There is no habitation for miles as all natives were removed to a separate buffer –zone when the area was declared as a National Park. However, there was a woman, who refused to depart from the nature. She has been sharing the forest with wild animals for decades now.
So it’s not entirely true that there is no habitation inside the park. An 83-years-old lady, Chatri Devi, still lives in her clay-house, all alone.
She doesn’t have electricity or a phone. She doesn’t even possess a clock and calculate time by following sun. This seclusion, complete isolation and wild animals do not scare her at all.
Leopards and black bears do come near to my house, even with their cubs, but they never attacked me as I am not their prey. Why should I be afraid of them? They go on their way (pointing towards a thick forest adjoining her house),
It’s not that she doesn’t have a family or is bound to live here. Rather, she has a big family comprising of three married sons, their wives, and nine grandchildren, who live in a village outside the park. It takes about one and half hour walk uphill to reach her from their place.
The only reason for her to choose this life in the park is that she loves it as she has a strong emotional attachment to the house she had build with her husband decades ago and small-piece of farmland where the couple grew wheat, barely, potato, corn and rajmah. She is the only one person who refused to relocate when the the area was declared as the GHNP in 1999.
Her death is the only way to separate her from the house, she said.
When asked if she ever gets bored, she replies,
These birds and animals are also part of my family. Every winter ‘jujuranas’ or western tragopans and gorals descend here. So I ejoy watching them.
These days, as she is very old now, one of the family members come to visit her everyday after taking that hours long uphill walk to ensure she is doing fine and returns by evening.
She makes a remarkable example of complete harmony with nature and its creature, away from modernised and way far complex, stressful urban life.
About The Himalayan National Park
Top Image: IANS
India’s first Igloo hotel in Manali is the fresh tourist attraction in Himachal
SHIMLA- Manali Igloo Stay is the fresh tourist attraction not only in Himachal Pradesh, but in entire India. First-of-its- kind, made entirely of snow, the Igloo houses are owned by Kelinga Himalyan Adventures, a winter-sports and travel company that offers ski courses and treks. The company, that comprises of local youth Tashi and Vikas, had been looking for good snowfall to give the concept a try. It’s eco-friendly, as it used no non-biodegradable material (snow), there would be no waste after it’ll meltdown.
This year, it snowed heavy and temperature was also favorable to build Igloo houses at Sethan village, near Prini. Each structure is made of compressed snow and measures 8×9 foot in width and 6.5 feet in height. The Igloos were opened at the end of the January, 2017.
The igloos are built by Tashi and Vikas with their friends.
When we discussed this concept with our friends, they were so excited that they spent hours with us and even helped us build them,
the duo told to an English daily.
The visitors are provided with bedding, table and lights. Accommodation is available only on a twin-sharing basis as there are only two structures. For sleeping, the visitors are given warm feather sleeping bags and a hot water bottle.
The temperature is chilling outside, but apparently inside is comparatively warmer. The Igloos can sure save visitors from cold winds outside. So, the idea is quite practical.
Igloos are mainly found in colder parts of the world like Switzerland, Canada, Finland etc. Definitely, it would be entirely a unique experience to find out what it feels to live in an Igaloo. No need to say, these Igloos would be available only in winters, hardly for a couple of months.
That’s not all; visitor can try to build their own Igloo houses at a height of about 9,000 feet, somewhere near Hampta pass.
This year, we have introduced two igloos on a trial basis and it has been successful. Lower areas of Manali, including the town, are warmer than Sethan. We plan to to get this concept registered with the tourism department so that they (officials) can also help us promote it, especially in rural areas,
In Pictures: Shimla receives overdose of snowfall in 2017
SHIMLA– Like every year, tourists flooded Shimla in hope of snowfall and they received an overdose of it. Along with other parts of Himachal Pradesh, the capital city received heavy snowfall on January 6 and 7, 2017 that caused uprooting of several trees that damaged overhead electricity wires due to which almost entire capital plunged into a weeklong darkness. The capital suffered water-shortage, too, as pumping stations stopped working. The daily life was hit as hundreds of roads were blocked.
Still, the hospitality industry made most of it as tourists were stuck for days. But other than inconvenience, snowfall brought smiles on the faces of tourists. The hills, deodar trees, roofs, and vehicles, everything was covered with a thick sheet of snowfall. Himachal Watcher captured a few photographs and talked to the tourist about their experience which we would like to share with our readers.
Himachal along with its capital also witnessed another, mild spell of snowfall on January 16, 2017 and some the posted pictures include some glimpses of the second snowfall as well. We hope that those who missed the snowfall would find some solace in these pictures and videos.
All Photos Copy Right: Tarun Sharma/ Himachal Watcher
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