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Himachal Pradesh >>

Mandi Travel

Built along the Beas River is the historic town of Mandi, the gateway to the Kullu valley. Literally meaning market, Mandi was on the salt route to Tibet. This place offers better option to break journey to the Kullu valley. A district headquarter, Mandi is also renowned for its 81 old stone temples with exquisite carvings, thereby earning it the title of 'Varanasi of the Hills'. The town also has some remains of old palaces and notable examples of the 'colonial' architecture. The Shivaratri Bhutnath celebrations in the Bhutnath temple attract tourists every year in large numbers. There are also two lakes near Mandi, which provide a good breather for the visitor. About five kms from the main town is the Tarana hills and on the top of the hill is Rani Amrit Kaur Park. From here one gets very good view of the nearby areas. The park has enclosed the Syama Kali temple, which was, built some where in the 17th century. In the days of yore, the pious sage, Mandavaya performed long and severe penance and practiced unthinkable austerities on his body, on the Right Bank of the river Beas, near the present town, which then took his name.

Location: Himachal Pradesh
Altitude: 800m.
Main Attractions: Shivratri Festival
Best Time To Visit: May to October.

NEARBY CITIES
Pandoh: 16-km
Rewalsar: 25-km
Sunder Nagar: 26-km
Bhuntar: 57-km
Jogindar Nagar: 55-km
Janjheli: 67-km

PRIME ATTRACTION
Triloknath Shiva Temple:

It is built in the Nagari style with a tiled roof. The temple at the centre of a group of sculpted stones shrines, overlooks the river and offers good views. Inside the temple, Lord Shiva has been depicted as the lord of the three worlds; at the Panchvakhra he has five faces, expressing his five aspects.

Bhutnath Temple:
Practically synonymous with Mandi and located in its very heart, this temple is as old as the town itself, dating back to the 1520's. It has a Nandi or god Shiva's bull facing the ornamental double arch to the sanctuary. The modern shrines nearby are brightly painted. In the month of March, the festival of Shivratri is a major event and Bhootnath Temple is its focus.

Syamakali Temple:
Also known as the Tarna Devi Temple, this temple is situated on the Tarna Hill, which rises above the town. Raja Syama Sen built the temple in the 17th century after a particularly trying time when the goddess gave him success.
At the top of Mandi town there is a temple of Shyama Kali deity, which is another manifestation of the consort of Lord Shiva.

THE LEGEND OF SHYAMA KALI TEMPLE:
It is said that the divine 'Sati' use once started dancing and in her joy she lost herself and went on with a fierce dance putting the three worlds in danger. Shiva, her husband, was approached to do something and Shiva quietly laid himself on her route of dance.

When, Kali had put her feet on prostrated Shiva she came to herself and stopped. In this manifestation, the spouse Kali is painted black oil the face and she looks fierce with her garland of skulls and tongue protruding out of remorse for treading on her husband's body. Raja Shyam Sen ruled Mandi from 1664 to 1675 and he was a great devotee of the deity Kali. Raja Jit Sen of Suket, ruler of the adjoining State, insulted Shyam Sen and Shyam Sen invaded Suket. He prayed and invoked the blessings of Kali before he set out. On his victory he was said to have built the temple and installed the deity. She is popularly known as 'Tarna Devi'. The Sikh kingdom after the death of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1839 passed through bad times. During the rule of Maharaja Kharak Singh of the Sikh kingdom the army became almost uncontrollable. Kharak Singh had left all the powers in the hands of his son Naunihal Singh. Naunihal Singh hit upon the strategy of invading Mandi and Kullu to give an opportunity to the army for fight and loot. Mandi and Kullu had given no cause for the invasion. However, General Ventura led a strong Sikh force to Mandi. General Ventura stopped within seven miles of the Mandi town and demanded some payment, which was made. Raja Balbir Sen of Mandi was called upon to visit the General in his camp on the pretext of receiving a Khilat. On his arrival the Raja was imprisoned and Mandi town was occupied. Balbir's imprisonment was followed by the capture of the Kamlah fortress and the Raja was sent as a prisoner to Amritsar and confined in the fort of Gobindgarh. Kullu was next invaded. One Goshaon, a clever Minister of Raja Balbir Sen, left the State in the disguise of a domestic servant and went to Lahore. He managed to gain the confidence of the rulers and had he sent to Gobindgarh fort to work for the prisoner. The clever Minister who gave out that Raja Balbir Sen had great spiritual powers (Sidh Purush) and could cure incurable diseases hatched a plot by his spiritual power. Some cases came to him and got cured by a touch of the Jhanda Sahib (flag post of the Gurudwara by the site of the fort). Maharaja Sher Singh who had become the ruler of Lahore heard of this and when there was a very heavy rain and floods, Raja Balbir Sen was brought to stop the rains and flood. It is said that Raja Balbir Sen prayed and prayed to the goddess Shyama Kali and took a vow that if the calamity was ended and he was released he would decorate the interior of the deity's temple with gold leaf. It is said that the prayer of Raja Balbir Sen did work and the rains were stopped. Balbir Sen was released with full honors and Mandi State with all that had been looted was restored to him. The Raja fulfilled his vow. Since then the Shyama Kali is held in very great veneration and the temple is visited by thousands of pilgrims every year.

Ardhanarishvara Temple:
This 7th century specimen of temple architecture, enclosed structure of Lord Shiva in a composite form with the right half as male and the left half as female symbolizing the male and female principles of cosmic evolution. The Ardhnari temple at Mandi is comparatively a modern temple. The right half of the stone image in the temple represents Lord Shiva and the left half his consort Parvati. Shiva has his typical knotted hair and wearing a garland of skulls, an entwined serpent, a musical instrument in one hand and a Damru or drum in the other. The divine consort Parvati is shown wearing a diadem, a pair of earrings and a ring on the nose. The icon is well executed from all standards. There is a slab joined to the image on which the vehicles or Vahan of the deities- the bull and the lion, are artistically carved. The images of 'Bhairon' and Lord Hanuman are also there. The temple consists of a cella, porch and a mandap. The carvings of the temple are of a high order. Ardhnari icons are rather rare in Northern India and the presence of this icon here is rather strange.

Revalsar Lake:
About 25-km from Mandi, and 14-km from Ner Chowk is the Revalsar Lake, famous for its seven floating islands of reed. It is maintained that prayer or breeze can move all seven of them. Here are three shrines - a Buddhist monastery, where elaborate rituals are performed, a Sikh gurudwara and a Hindu temple. It was from this place that the Sage Padma Sambhava, a zealous teacher of Buddhism, left as a missionary to preach the doctrine of "The Enlightened" in Tibet. Shaped quite like a square and with a shoreline of 7,35m, this dark jewel rests on a mountain spur and is protected by a variety of dense vegetation. Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists hold the spot sacred alike.

LEGEND OF REWALSAR LAKE:
Legend has it that the great teacher and 'tantric', 'Padmasambhava' used his enormous powers to take flight to Tibet from Rewalsar. Also known as 'Guru Rimpoche', the "Precious Master". It was under Padmasambhava's influence that 'Mahayana' Buddhism took root in Tibet - and at Rewalsar waters, his spirit is said to reside in the tiny islands of floating reed that drift over the waters.

A RELIGIOUS HARMONY:
There are three Buddhist monasteries at Rewalsar. Commemorating the month-long stay of Guru Gobind Singh in 1738, Rewalsar has a gurudwara that was built in 1930 by Raja Joginder Sen of Mandi. Rewalsar has three Hindu temples, which are dedicated to Lord Krishna, Lord Shiva and to the sage "Lomas". A small zoo also is maintained near the lake. The lake of ‘Kunt Bhyog’ (1,750m above sea level) lies above Rewalsar -as does six other lakes of legend. These are associated with the escapes of the 'Pandavas' from the burning palace of wax- and episode from the epic, Mahabharata. Prashar Lake: 40-km on the banks of the lake is a storyed pagoda-like temple dedicated to sage Parashar.Linked by road to Mandi is an interesting 14-km trek that is possible along a steep track from Kataula, which is easily accessible from Mandi.The beautiful Prashar Lake is located high in the mountains, 40-km north of Mandi. It is here that sage Prashar is said to have meditated. On the lake's edge is a three-storeyed pagoda-like temple dedicated to the sage. Capped with a roof of slate tiles, the temple has a wealth of woodcarving. It is said to have been built by Raja Ban Sen of Mandi in the 14th century Its remarkable setting is enhanced by a frame of snow-draped peaks, and visible from the lake's edge, the waters of the river Satluj flow due south. The lakeside and the nearby villages are sites of various festivals held at different times of the year.

Sundernagar:
Famous of its temples 26-Km from Mandi towards Shimla and at a height of 1,174m (3,852 ft) on the raised edge of the fertile valley, the beautiful town of Sundernagar is known, also for its shady walks amidst towering trees. On top of a hill and visited by thousands of devotees every year, the Sukhdev Vatika and temple of Mahamaya. The biggest hydroelectric project in all Asia, the Beas-Sutlej Project, irrigating nearly one-fourth of the northern plains of India, has brought unprecedented prosperity to Sundernagar. The Beas-Sutlej Link colony is the biggest colony in Himachal Pradesh.

Janjehli:
At a distance of 67-km from Mandi, Janjehli is a paradise for hikers, offering treks up to a height of 3,300m. (10,827 ft). After covering 32-km by a motorable road up to Gohar, the rest of the journey is on foot. In the midst of thick forests, 15-km from Gohar, at Bajahi is beautifully located, well furnished, Rest House, to stay overnight, from where Janjehli is a scant 20-km away, after going through bridle path.

Kamlah Fort:
Situated on the border of Mandi with Hamirpur, this fort was built by Raja Surat Sen in 1625.
Pandoh: Just 16-km away from Mandi, Pandoh is an earth and rockfill dam.
Shikhari Devi: 15-km from Janjehli is situated the ancient temple of Shikhra Devi and is surrounded by some marvellous landscapes.

FAIRS & FESTIVALS:
In February-March, Shivaratri fair is held in Mandi. In weeklong celebrations, full of music and dance, temple deities from hills and around are taken in procession with chariots and palanquins to visit the Madho Rai and Bhutnath temples.

Shivratri Fair:
The town of Mandi with its ancient temples revels in the Shivratri fair for a whole week.

On elaborately decorated palanquins, hundred of local deities are carried to the town. Accompanied by folk bands, they make their first stop at the 'Madho Rai' temple and then go to pay obeisance to Lord Shiva at the Bhootnath temple. Festivities-music and song, dance and drama follow this. Yet, all the while the atmosphere is surcharged with deep religious devotion.

SHOPPING:
In town look for good handicrafts near Bhutnath temple and in Seri Bazaar. Mandi raw silk has acquired wide fame.
Click here to buy Handicrafts from Himachal Pradesh

HOW TO GET THERE
Air: The nearest airport is Bhuntar about 57-km from Mandi.
Rail: The broad gauge railhead is at Pathankot, a distance of 210-km. From Pathankot the narrow gauge railway connects Joginder Nagar, which is 55-km from Mandi.
Road: Mandi is well connected by road to other places. The main bus stand is just above an open playing field, where the National Highway- 21 continues along the left bank of river to Pandoh.

CLIMATE:
In winter, the temperature can however around freezing point when heavy woolen clothes are required. During summer, the climate is hot and cottons are recommended.

 
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