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news details
Clear trip of Manimahesh Yatra
Impact of the experience
9/3/2018 8:44:48 PM
Jamwal Mahadeep Singh
A journey becomes a pilgrimage as we discover, day by day, that the distance traveled is less important than the experience gained. When we speak in context of a 'Yatra', on religious platter, we find the phenomenon is not restricted to a particular section of society, to a particular religion or to a preacher's of particular religious body or restricted to economic position. When we think of the Hinduism, number of sites of pilgrimages sounds and flashes in our minds. In Muslims, the fifth pillar of Islam is a pilgrimage to Mecca. Christian pages of pilgrimage remind us of Jerusalem, site of the Passion, the site of Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus. For Buddhist, this is the area where Gautama Buddha lived and taught, and the main sites connected to his life are now important places of pilgrimage. A pilgrimage is a journey or search of moral or spiritual significance. Typically, it is a journey to a shrine or other locations of importance to a person's beliefs and faiths. The followers of Lord Shiva carry a mission in their life to visit the places and sites associated with Lord Shiva. According to Hinduism, Shiva resided at the summit of a mountain named Kailash, where he sat in a state of meditation. There are many both benevolent and fearsome depictions of Shiva. In benevolent aspects, he is depicted as an omniscient Yogi who lives an ascetic life on Mount Kailash as well as a householder with wife Parvati and his two children, Ganesha and Kartikeya.
Among the dream places, wished to be visited by devotees of Lord Shiva, is 'Mani Mahesh' believed to be the abode of Lord Shiva. The pilgrimage to this site, located in sub-division Bharmour of Chamba district Himachal Pradesh (also known as 'Dev Bhoomi', owing to the reason HP is abound by more than 2000 temples almost every village having at least one temple besides community Devta or local Deities and because of cluster of Buddhist Monasteries and Gompas stretched across the vivid landscape). The 'Manimahesh', a peak (18,547 ft elevation), locally also called as 'Chamba Kailash' stands towering high over the Manimahesh Lake (13,390 ft, a glacial depression sourced by snow-melt waters from the surrounding hill slopes. It is surrounded by sandy boulders, small hilly mounds and prickly dry bushes. This whole area is called Shiv Chaugan), at the base of the Mani Mahesh peak and both are held in deep veneration by people. It is a virgin peak that never climbed by anyone because of the divine power of the peak. Derivation of Manimahesh signifies a "Jewel (Mani) on Lord Shiva's (who is well known as Mahesh) crown". The said pilgrimage has been declared by HP as state pilgrimage. The visitation to this site of Manimahesh Lake, destination of this pilgrimage, is undertaken by Pilgrims to have a freezing dip in the sacred Manimahesh Lake for purification and for glimpse of the spiritual light flashes from the Kailash peak emitted by the Mani (jewel) considered as blessings of Lord Shiva to get rid of sins. The rays reflected from the jewel can be seen from Manimahesh Lake on clear full-moon nights (which are a rare occasion). When a spiritual light flashes from the Kailash peak where 'Shivlinga' is situated is considered as Mani Darshan. For this moment and to glimpse this spiritual light devotees spend their night at Manimahesh Lake. And the glorious views of Manimahesh Kailash in the morning and at the time of sun rising touches the hearts of visitors. The pilgrimage is spread over to a limited period only from the auspicious day of 'Shri Krishna Janmashtami' and concludes on the day of 'Radha Ashtami'. It is believed that Lord Shiva shifted with Mata Parvati to Mani Mahesh (Chamba Kailash) after gifting his original Bhadar Kailash to Nagraj Vasuki. Hence Manimahesh is very sacred to 'Bhadarwahis' and thousands of devotees undertake the highly revered pilgrimage trek of Mani Mahesh, approached from different routes. The on foot journey from erstwhile district Doda takes route from Bhaderwah via Bheja village to holy shrine Manimahesh. Pilgrims from Lahaul-Spiti come through Kugti pass. Some from Kangra and Mandi come via Kawarsi or Jalsu passes. Direct trekking from Chamba is also an option undertaken by the devout. The holy trek starts from the Laxmi Narayan temple and the Dashnami Akhara in Chamba town. The easiest route (motor able) take off from Pathankot (Pb) and traverse through Chamba, Bharmour and last motor able destination Hadsar, a takeoff point for further on foot journey. It is not out of context to place here that for the last few years, the private Helicopter service has been introduced by the administration that take off from Bharmour to 'Gauri Kund' site, one and half kilometer short of Manimahesh Lake. From Hadsar 'ponies' and 'Palki' services are managed by locals. The on foot journey is an adventurous, charming and heart throbbing owing to traverse alongside a 'Nallah' known as 'Khada Nallah. The well-defined trail along the Manimahesh river winds up through mixed forest to a series of green meadows, cross over a wooden bridge of Manimahesh Nallah and further ascend of 2km culminate at 'Dhanshohh' (9514 feet elevation). The well established 'community langers', few 'Dhabas and night-shelter cater to the basic need of pilgrims. Camping for the night at Dhanchho is the best place to rest and acclimatize before ascending to Manimahesh Lake next day. After taking bathe in 'Dhanshohh' waterfall (According to a legend, demon Bhasmasur, bestowed with boon by Lord Shiva that demon placing his hand on anybody's head will reduce that man to ashes. Bhasmasur tried to apply his boon on Shiva himself that forced Shiva to take refuge in a cave behind the rolling waters of the Dhanshohh water fall). Pilgrims take their further journey passing through 'Bander Ghati', 'Shiv Ghrat' (here pilgrim can feel sound of a 'Ghrat' - 'water mill') resting point at 'Sundrasi', ' Bhairon Ghati' and a cross over a small patch of glacier reaches 'Gauri-Kund'. Here a cluster of local 'Dhabas', small kiosks, community langers and night shelters welcome pilgrims besides two religiously important water bodies called Gauri Kund and Shiva Krotri, whereas per popular belief Gauri and Shiva bathe respectively. The women pilgrims do take holy dip in Gauri Kund and the men in Shiva Krotri before proceeding to Manimahesh Lake, venue of a highly revered pilgrimage trek. The religious significance of this lake is next to that of the Lake Manasarovar in Tibet. The Government of Himachal Pradesh has declared it as a state-level pilgrimage.
Certain legends associated with Manimahesh pilgrimage are fully observed by pilgrims. Before proceeding for 'Hadsar' from Bharmour, pilgrim are supposed to pay their obedience at the site known as 'Brahamani Mata', 3.5 kilometer steep journey but now made motor able also. According to a local legend Goddess was residing in the Bharmaur Chaurasi, before the advent of pilgrims. When Lord Shiva first appeared in Bharmaur, the Goddess shifted her seat to the hill top known as Bharmani. When Lord Shiva went to Manimahesh Kailash, he granted a boon to goddess Brahmani Devi that all persons intending to go on pilgrimage to Manimahesh must have a dip in holy pool. Failing this, their pilgrimage would not be acceptable to Lord Shiva. Brahmani Mata temple complex is at the top of the ridge, 4km away from the Bharmour. The pilgrims visiting Bharmani Mata temple pay their obedience after taking a holy dip in Bharmani temple Kund. After paying visit to 'Brahamani Mata', Pilgrims are supposed to obtain blessings and permission from the 'Pujaris' of Manimahesh, based in the premise called as 'Chaurasi temple' at Bharmour. This site also houses 6th century AD, built wooden temple of Lashna Devi, alongside temple of 'Dharamraj'. The 'Pujaris of Manimahesh are from genealogy of 'Tarlochan Mahadev' and reside in a nearby village 'Sanchui'. They proceed from Bharmour taking 'Charri Mubarak' of Manimahesh on 'Radha Ashtami' and reaching at Lake Site are the first to take bathe in the Lake and only one to cross over the Lake. Common pilgrims are prohibited from crossing over the Lake. At one corner of the Manimahesh lake is a marble image of Shiva placed in open, which is worshipped by the pilgrims who visit this place. After bathing in the holy waters, pilgrims circumambulate the lake three times as an act of reverence, seeking blessings of the Lord. The lake and its surroundings present a majestic view. The quiet waters of the lake carry the reflection of snow capped peaks that carry over the valley.
Concluding with the message 'Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra' is the greatest Mantra for lord Shiva found in 'Rig Veda' and it goes as: "OM. Tryambakam yajamahe Sugandhim pushti-vardhanam Urvarukamiva bandhanan Mrityor mukshiya mamritat".
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