It was an unplanned trip again to Himachal Pradesh. This time the trip took me to Manali and Kullu.Here are the pictures as it happened:
This is the way it was before the King, who is also the CM of the State of Himachal Pradesh had the jungle cleared to restore the view of the temple and planted an apple orchard in the courtyard
My first view of the temple from the HTDC Srikhand Hotel
This is what I call the definitive view of the famous Sarahan Temple :the centuries old Bhimakali Temple built in the Indo – Tibetan style, for goddess Durga.
The main temple showing one of the twin towers that tilted during the devastating earthquake of 1905.
The inherent elasticity of the interlocked wooden beams encasing Ashlars worked stone structure prevented major damage and a later earthquake straightened the plumb to an extent.
The temple complex is almost an acre, includes buildings, courtyards and this is the royal palace.
This is the main entrance.
In Hindu myths Sarahan is known as Shonitpur and there are beautiful legends about this little hamlet dating back from the vedic era, nestled in the foot of the Srikhand Peak (the peculiarity of this Himalayan peak is, it is the only one, whose tip remains uncovered with snow).
One tale is about a war between Lord Krishna and Banasura, one of Prahlad’s hundred sons, on account of Banasura’s daughter, Usha’s love for Krishna’s son Aniruddha. Krishna defeated him but later returned Bushair as dowry for Usha. Sarahan is in Bushahr of Rampur district of Himachal Pradesh.
Another tale is of how a bengali devotee called Bhimagiri, set out from Bengal with a staff, on pilgrimmage, at Sarahan his staff sank deep into the soil. When he looked he found buried there was Bhimakali’s image. She appeared to him in a dream and said this was her home and this is where she would live. So the temple came into being.
Sarahan is the base for some of Himachal’s finest treks to Badahal, Sangla and Shrikhand Peak. The treks are however open only between April and June and September-October.
From the circuit house compound which was under construction when I visited in April 2006, you get this view of the HTDC run Srikhand hotel (with green roofs), built like the temple itself. You get typical Himachali warm reception here, and all the other 3star(?!) comforts such places provide at 7150 feet (“well used and basic” as one traveller* remarked), the most important and useful of which, for a lonely trekker, is perhaps security, hot water, made to order dinner and electricity in the room.
The road leading up from the circuit house and lined with these straight tall beautiful himalayan juniper
leads to the Apiary housing the world’s most colourful bird – the western Tragopan, which seemed even more beautiful than a peacock to me.
The Nathpa-Jhakri Dam here feeds hydel power to the entire northern grid and it’s amzing to listen to the stories from the resident engineer about how electric lines were laid in the mountains. The CPWD quarters look nice too from the bus/car while entering the village. I couldn’t stick the picture here as I lost it. Sorry 🙂
Sarahan is 177 km and six hours drive from Shimla on the NH22 upto Jeori thereafter bifurcating to Sarahan with the other road leading to Rekong Peo. From infront of the HTDC office near Mandi House in New Delhi, a Volvo service leaves at 7 p.m. daily and reaches Shimla via Chandigarh at 4 a.m. The bus to Jeori starts at 5 a.m. reaches Sarahan at 11 a.m.
*http://www.travelpod.com/travel-blog-entries/meandher/transplanet_1/1119691380/tpod.html (blog name Twin Tower, dtd 2007)
http://blogs.bootsnall.com/BabeInTheWoods/sarahan-7-lights-switches-equals-one-bang-plus-photo-link.html#more-45 (for ‘hiccup’ experiences – 2give u an idea of what to watch out for)
http://yashasvi2001.sulekha.com/blog/post/2007/11/touching-the-horizons-chitkul-sangla.htm (for ITBP passes from Sarahan for further forays towards the I/Tibet border)
Pictures were taken by the author except the Juniper Trees and the old view that are netscavenged material.
Some would guess that it is a place somewhere. Few would know enough to be able to associate it with an Indian mountain state. There is this man however, who knows all this and a little more.
He had seen this woman once, walking straight down the footpath to him, wrapped in a lovely olive green printed Murshidabad silk saree, with the thick Kolkata winter evening neon-lights reflecting in her jet black hair, her face, her eyes. Moments later he had heard her speak his name. Still later he had walked down Rashbehari Avenue measuring his steps to match hers- absorbed. In the dead of the night he had heard her speak.
Blossoming apple orchards, straight-backed juniper and deodar lined Himalayan slopes, fragrant picone strewn pakdandis winding up and down the mountain, the mist shrouding the view outside the windows – he had seen it all.
He could smell the early morning sunshine at seven thousand feet. He had felt the evening descend quietly, sliding down the steep slopes behind him even as he felt her slumberous eyelids drooping and her voice beginning to ‘sound like a kitten’. When she was sleepy she always sounded like a kitten he thought.
He had groped his way back up the deserted roads without streetlights towards the place where husband and wife served Tibetan thukpa in round stainless steel bowls. He had lingered there long after she had drifted off to sleep and the phone had clicked off.
One day, while the sun shone brightly and the whole world seemed to be in a haze of heat and work and strangeness, his temples throbbed. That is when he had seen her again. In a noisy boardroom one thousand and four kilometers away from her city it had suddenly seemed to be the right place and the right time to reach out to her. Her voice had echoed in his mind and had walked him down a little slope and up several separate flights of stone and wooden stairs to this beautiful temple nestled in the lap of the snow capped Srikhand range.
He had seen Sarahan.
He finally knows what her Sarahan really is. He knows that it is a vision inside this woman’s head.
He knows that she carries it around with her, so that Sarahan is sometimes inside a cafeteria, where she drinks it up with the aroma of her cappuccino and the conversation of her friends.
Sometimes Sarahan is inside a semi dark auditorium reverberating with exquisite fingers spraying magical notes in the air sound of which filled her with the fragrance of exotic pale pink apple blossoms.
Sarahan is where she wants to be. Sarahan is where she has wanted to be. This is where she can be. Herself. Deep down in his own soul he knew that Sarahan is where she exists. That is where he would always find her. That she had planted a Sarahan inside of him too!