There are thousands of temples in Himachal Pradesh dedicated to numerous Gods & Goddesses. The temples in Himachal are known for their splendor and peculiar architecture.
Pilgrimage trips form a vital segment of tourism in Himachal, and across India, the importance of which can not be undermined.
Pilgrimage trips are not only for the domestic population but for the foreign population as well who have a substantial share in pilgrimage tourism. But they visit for different reasons-to study the ancient architecture, belief system in God/Goddesses to name a few.
Pilgrimage tourism is the third-largest foreign exchange earner for India. More than 15 Cr Indians visit pilgrimage places across the country. The biggest driving force is the country’s mythological past, history, and customs/beliefs-God fearing nature of Indians.
I visited Haridwar for the first time when I lost my father. I was constantly thinking about the commercialization of the belief. The wheel of the economy in Haridwar is being moved primarily by the DEAD and living together. The living ones who throng there to perform rituals for those who are gone… no more!
In the northern part of the country, the Badrinath, Kedarnath, Mount Kailash, Vaishno Devi, Rishikesh, Haridwar, Amritsar; the Sabarimalai, Rameshwaram, Madurai, Tirupati in the South; Puri Jagannath temple in the east and Shirdi Sai Baba temples; the churches of Goa in the western part keep more than 15 % of Indian population on the move.
Himachal does attract pilgrims from near around states and like many other centers of divine powers, this hill state has a lot to offer. I have listed some of them-
1. Sankat Mochan
Sankat Mochan temple is dedicated to Lord Hanuman and is located at Shimla. Since all those who visit Shimla also visit this temple, no doubt this temple is one of the most visited places in Shimla.
The temple was commissioned by Baba Neem Karoli.
The campus has expanded over the years and open courtyards offer an unobstructed view of Shimla, the Capital City.
2. Tara Devi
This temple is 250 years old and is on the hilltop overlooking Shimla City. The tourists visit the Tara Devi temple to get the blessings of the deity and catch the glimpse of Shimla City.
3. Jakhoo Temple
This temple is at a height of 8000 feet from the main sea level. A tall statue of the Lord Hanuman ( 180 feet) is an added attraction. There is a ropeway link to the Jakhoo temple.
4. Bijli Mahadev
You hear of the temples dedicated to Mahadev (Lord Shiva) in Himachal, be prepared for an adventurous, arduous trek. Bijli Mahadev is one such temple at an altitude of 2460 m on a mountain separating the two most visited valleys- Parvati Valley & Kullu Valley.
These rivers flow on either side of the mountain on which the Bijli Mahadev Temple is ensconced leaving the visitors amazed by the strange & recurring phenomenon of Shiva Linga getting shattered by a lightning strike.
What’s the frequency of the occurrence?
Twelve years is the answer.
Let me explain it further. The amazing thing is that the Shiv Linga in this temple gets shattered every 12 years due to lightning that strikes on the Linga. The temple priest assembles the Linga again with pulses & cereals flour along with butter and it solidifies to take the original form again.
Those who are adventurous can opt for a 3km trek from Bhunter. Youtube is flooded with videos on views from Bijli Mahadev, trekking experiences. I have picked up one for you.
Well, this is more than enough to prove that there exists supreme power and we are just minuscule. They say it’s an order of Mahadeva (Lord Shiva) that Indra( God of rains) is following to strike lightning after every 12 years.
It is said that it’s for the benefit of the population who live under the shadow of Bijli Mahadev.
The history of this temple also unfolds why this beautiful part of the country is called Kullu. History has a fierce battle between Mahadev & the demon Kulanta who took the form of a gigantic snake blocking the flow of the river intentionally to drown the whole population.
Mahadeva killed the demon Kulanta and the snake-like form of the demon got formed like a huge mountain. Kullu is the derivation from the name Kulanta. Sounds interesting right?
5. Hidimba Temple
I would say this is another most visited temple in Himachal and is situated in Manali. It would be hard to believe that tourists in Manali would ever miss visiting this temple, taking photographs, and enjoying the natural beauty of tall pine trees surrounding the temple.
The temple is dedicated to the demoness Hidimba, an underestimated character of Mahabharta as compared to her husband Bhima. Being a demoness she behaved like a devoted wife & mother who raised her son single-handedly.
The temple was built by Maharaja Bahadur Singh in the year 1553. There is no idol placed inside the temple but the footprint on the stone slab which is worshipped.
Hidimba Devi(the wife of Bheema and mother of Ghatotkach) is believed to be protecting the entire valley and tourist’s favorite, Manali.
The temple has been inviting many films makers to capture its beauty. The scene where Arvind Swamy(hero) gets kidnapped in Roja movie [Click here] was shot in Hadimba temple. The movie Roja was produced by writer, director Padma Shri Mani Ratnam.
Though in the film, it was shown as a temple in Kashmir because the film, in those days, could not be shot in Kashmir due to the state being gripped by terrorism in its entirety.
6. Vashistha Temple
Vashsitha temple in Manali is dedicated to Vashistha Rishi, famous for its natural hot springs or sulfur springs. The temple is around 4000 years old.
It’s exciting to enjoy the hot water pools in the extreme winters when Manali is completely covered in snow. It is a bizarre experience. These springs attract tourists from India & abroad.
Vashistha Rishi is a vegetarian God who loathes animal sacrifices and alcohol. The rishis are not counted as Gods, but in Kullu, they are worshipped as Devtas.
Vashistha is considered to be the protector of Vashistha village and its inhabitants against demons and enemies, the provider of the fertility of the land, animal & people. Vashistha even mediates as the supreme authority in case of disputes.
The main occasion for his public appearance is the temple festival in April and his annual tour up to Brighu Lake where he bathes. He also attends festivals of the other village gods, like the Hadimba fair in May, and accepts personal invitations from the residents as well.
Not only do the tourists take a dip in Vashsitha but the Devi and Devtas who pay visits to Vashistha also take baths in hot water springs.
Like other Devi & Devtas, Vashistha does not take part in the Dasara festival in Kullu, instead, the rath is carried to the neighboring Sitarama temple where he stays during Dashara days.
One more hot water springs location in Parvati Valley, in fact just by the side of Parvati river. Parvati river while passing through Manikaran is not calm, rather it’s gushing fast, fuming – because the hot water drains profusely in the chilling water of Parvati.
Here we can apply physics comfortably but not on finding the reason for this wonderous ooze of hot water from mountains.
I am sure, it would be easy to guide you to Manikaran by just saying that it’s close to Kasol & Malana. Kasol & Malana need no introduction.
Manikaran is a holy place for two religions- Hindu & Sikh. You would see the mixed crowd in Manikaran but beyond a certain point, Hindus choose their way to Old Rama Temple and Sikhs to Gurudwara.
Normally where there is Gurudwara, food is something that is guaranteed and it’s only the place to stay to be managed to enjoy Manikaran fully.
Since it’s about the pilgrimage, the focal point should be the place where one can indulge in Bhakti. But the area around is stunning and the best creation of God.
8. Naina Devi Temple
The temple is situated about 70 km away from Bilaspur. Naina Devi is one of the 51 Shaktipithas in India.
The temple is situated on the Shivalik Hills at Himachal -Punjab states border and then the plains of Punjab commence their spread. Once you have made it to the temple, there is a spectacular view of the Anantput Sahib & Bhakra Dam catchment area.
Bhakhra Dam is about 20km from Naina Devi Temple.
Rope Way is also available to reach the temple. The ticket rates are as given below-
Frequently Asked Questions
Suggested Read: FAQs on Shimla, Himachal Pradesh
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