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’.
Himachal to Set up 100 Swachhta Cafés Worth Rs. 10 Crore to Promote Traditional Cuisine, Collect Tonnes of Single-Use Plastic
Shimla-Swachhta cafe would be set up in Himachal Pradesh with an estimated cost of around Rs. 10 crores by the year 2023. The State Government would set up around 100 such cafes. Ten such “Swachhta Café” would be set up at important locations of the state with an estimated cost of rupees one crore with a target to collect 25 tonnes of single-use plastic items from different parts of the state by end of this financial year.
It was informed by Rural Development and Panchayati Raj Minister Virender Kanwar recently.
Under this “Swachta Café” program, plastic waste will be purchased from the ragpickers, individuals collecting waste from households and urban local bodies at Rs. 75 per kilogram in exchange for food or other eatable items to motivate the ragpickers and individuals to keep their surroundings clean.
The Swachhta cafe will be constructed under “Village Haat Scheme” where women will be facilitated to sell medicinal plants, such as giloye, peppermint, powder of neem leaves and homemade pickles, murabba, wheat flour, pulses, spices and vegetable vat reasonable prices.
The women running the Swachhta Cafe will be given training in the hospitality sector to enable them to cook popular traditional cuisine to maintain original flavour and taste of the dishes. Around 100 such women will be trained by the hospitality experts during the current financial year, he informed.
He further informed that a target has been fixed to train around five thousand women belonging to self-help groups in the next three years in the hospitality sector to run these cafes.
The first Swachhta Café was inaugurated at Gram Panchayat Radiali in Nalagarh area in Solan, which is to be run by women self-help groups and another cafe would be opened at Naggar in Kullu Districts. Under the scheme, if a person brings more plastic waste then he can use the surplus money for dining in next time in the cafe.
Minister said that the programme aims that villages are made completely free of single-use plastic in coming years and the entire state will be covered under the scheme in a phased manner in coming years.
HP Tourism to Cook 1100 kg ‘Khichari’ at Tattapani to Promote Tourism
Shimla-Himachal Pradesh Tourism Department will organise ‘Tourism Festival’ on the occasion of Makar Sakranti on January 14, 2020, at Tattapani. It would be organised in collaboration with district Mandi Administration. This was disclosed by Director Tourism Department Yunus while presiding a meeting today.
He said that the objective of organizing this tourism festival is to promote Tattapani as a tourist destination. He said that for first-time tourism festival was being organised at Tattapani to make it tourism destination for Indian and Foreign tourists.
He informed that during this event, Water Sports, Satluj Aarti and cultural programmes would also be organised. On this occasion, 1100 kilogram’ Khichari’ would also be cooked and it would be especially cooked in a single utensil, he added.
This is for the first time in Himachal Pradesh that Khichari would be cooked in such large quantity and will be served to about 12,000 to 15,000 people. Special buses would also be plied by the Transport Department to reach Tattapani Tourism Festival from Mandi and Shimla on Makar Sakranti.
SDM Karsog, District Tourism Officer Mandi, representatives of NTPC, HPTDC, Language, Art and Culture Department and Tattapani Panchayat participated in the meeting among others.
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.