Submitted by alvin on Tue, 2016-10-04 16:58 I stumbled upon Kasol quite accidently. We were travelling in Manali. As there was heavy snowfall and landslides, we had nothing much to do. A friend suggested us to visit ‘Manikaran’ in the same district famous for its hot springs. We jumped at his suggestion and drove towards Manikaran. A temple in Manikaran Located about 35kms from Kulu, in the Parvati valley, Manikaran is a famous pilgrim centre revered by Sikhs and Hindus alike. It is believed that when Lord Shiva was walking in the valley, Parvati dropped her earrings and soon thereafter serpent ‘Sesha’ took it away to the nether world. When Parvati was upset, Shiva performed his ‘Thandava Nritya’. As a result, the jewel came up through a spring. Hence the name ‘Manikaran’. Locals say that till the earthquake in 1905, precious stones would come out of the ground at Manikaran through hot springs and only later they stopped emerging. Cooking rice in the hot spring Gurudwara complex Manikaran is also revered by Sikhs. When Saint Guru Nanak visited this place in 1574, he collected flour to make rotis. Unfortunately, there was no fire to cook the food, and when Nanakji offered his prayers, a hot spring appeared with whose help rotis were cooked. Therefore a Gurudwara named ‘Manikaran Saheb Gurudwara’ was built there. The Shiva temple is simply known as ‘Manikaran Temple’. The hot springs remain as hot as ever. Located at an altitude of 5200 ft, Manikaran is in the valley, where the river Parvathi flows. There are many temples in Manikaran but the temples of Lord Shiva and Lord Rama are important. It is said that the idols of Lord Rama and Shiva were installed by the then king of the area Raja Jagjit Singh. Israeli shops in Kasol Parvati river The most visited area in Manikaran is the hot spring itself. The spring emanates at a place next to both the temple and Gurudwara and one can see stream rising even from a distance. The water is so hot that if a bag of rice is placed in it, it is cooked in no time. In the Gurudwara, the hot water of the spring is led to a pool where pilgrims take their bath. The water of the spring is said to have medicinal properties and hence a lot of people take their bath to cure themselves of their diseases. The Gurudwara is revered by all. We prayed there and ate the food offered at the langar. Manikaran town is small and has many shops selling goods required by pilgrims. On the way to Manikaran lies the village of Kasol. It is about 5 kms from Manikaran and is at a height of 5000ft. It has become very popular among adventure seekers and those wanting to relax. It became popular with Israelis, who discovered it as a town to relax and now Kasol is a mini Israel with a number of establishments selling Israeli food and Israeli knick-knacks. In fact, when we come to Kasol, we feel that we are in Israel because of Hebrew name boards. Many tourists come to Kasol and stay there for a few days and do their treks around the valley. Nature lovers do trips around the river bank and take long walks to a place called “Kheerganga”. The trek to Kheerganga starts from Bershayini and it takes trekkers along small hills and villages on the banks of Parvati River. The trekkers stop at Rudranag, take bath in a waterfall and from here the climb becomes steep. Kheerganga is nothing but a little pool on top of a hill whose waters are also hot like Manikaran. The locals say that Lord Shiva meditated at this pool for 3000yrs. Trekkers describe the 14km walk as one of the most beautiful treks in North India. Kheerganga has some basic accommodation where trekkers can spend the night. River Parvati and hot springs Treks near Kasol Other popular place in the vicinity is ‘Malana’ which is a small hamlet situated 22kms from Kasol. The locals in ‘Malana’ are vary of visitors and live in self-imposed isolation. Their customs are queer. Their language is different. If any outsider touches anything in Malana, the locals feel that impurity has been caused and the visitor has to pay a fine. However, local police say that secrecy on the part of the villagers is due to the fact that they grow and distribute ‘Ganja’!. A Hydroelectric project has come up in Malana. Kasol, Manikaran, Kheerganga are places where both the devout and the adventurous go and are less trodden in Himachal Pradesh.