Manimahesh is one of the Panch Kailash which is in Chamba District of Himachal Pradesh and the other Kailash are Kailash Mansarovar in Tibet, Adi Kailash in Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand, Shrikhand Mahadev in Kullu District of Himachal Pradesh, and Kinnaur Kailash in Kinnaur District of Himachal Pradesh.
The manifestation of the Lord Shiva is supposed to be a rock formation on top of the mountain that resembles a Shiva Lingam and is known as Manimahesh Shivling. The Mani Mahesh Peak is believed to be visible only to those who are lucky. If Lord Shiva is happy then the peak will be clearly visible and clouds covering the peak denote the displeasure of Lord Shiva.
Manimahesh's etymology refers to a "gem (Mani) on the crown of Lord Shiva (Mahesh)." According to local lore, the moon rays reflected off the jewel can be seen from Manimahesh Lake on a clear full moon night. The Mani Mahesh Peak is also known as Chamba Kailash.
Lord Shiva is thought to have created Manimahesh after marrying Goddess Parvati, also known as Mata Girja. Additionally, it is believed that Lord Shiva paid deep penance here for seven hundred years and gave the Gaddis (the local tribes) a Chuhali topi (pointed cap), which they wear even today along with their other traditional clothing, the Chola (coat) and Dora (10–15 m long black cord). The Gaddis began referring to themselves as Shiva worshippers and named this mountainous region as "Shiv Bhumi" (Land of Shiva).
A Mythology narrates the story of Lord Shiva being deceived at Dhancho, where devotees spend a night on their route to Manimahesh Lake. On being delighted with the zeal of Bhasmasur, a demon and one of his devotees, Lord Shiva blessed him with the ability to touch anyone and turn them to ashes. Bhasmasur intended to use this blessing on Lord Shiva only. As a result, he went after Lord Shiva to touch him and destroy him. Shiva was able to get away and climb the waterfall at Dhancho to seek refuge in a cave behind the falling waters. As a result of Lord Vishnu's intervention, Bhasmasur was unable to cross the waterfall and was deliberately killed. Since then, people revere the Dhancho fall.
The three Lords of the universe namely, Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma, are thought to have their residence in the region of Manimahesh. The Chamba Kailash is regarded as Lord Shiva's heavenly realm. On the approach to Manimahesh Lake, a waterfall that can be seen at the Dhancho was said to be the heaven of Lord Vishnu. A mound that has a view of the city of Bharmaur is described as Bramha's heaven.
The Gaddis also hold the belief that Shiva departs to the underworld and transfers power to Lord Vishnu after spending six months on Mount Mani Mahesh Kailash. Every year, the Gaddis mark Janmashtami, the eighth day of the month of Bhadon (August), the birthday of Lord Krishna (an incarnation of Lord Vishnu), as the day Lord Shiva passes into the underworld. Before the night of his wedding (February or March), Lord Shiva returns to Bharamaur from the underworld, and this day is known as Shivratri.
Manimahesh Yatra happens in the Budhil Valley of the Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh. The Mani Mahesh Yatra has been declared a State Level Pilgrimage by the Government of Himachal Pradesh.
Bharmour is the gateway to Manimahesh Shivling. The Pir Panjal and Dhauladhar ranges surrounding the area make it a picturesque town. The Mani Mahesh Lake is located at a distance of 26km from Bharmour. The trek to Manimahesh Kailash starts from Hadsar and the yatries reach Manimahesh Lake after covering a distance of about 7 to 9 km.
The Mani Mahesh lake is located at an elevation of 13000 feet at the base of the Kailash peak. The height of the holy Mani Mahesh Kailash Parvat is 18,564 feet.
The Mani Mahesh is accessible by three routes:
Most people prefer the Chamba route to go on the Mani Mahesh Yatra as it is easily accessible by road, rail, and air. One can reach Chamba in the following ways:
The Manimahesh Yatra route that we follow is Pathankot — Bharmour (via Chamba) — Hadsar — Dhanchoo — Mani Mahesh — Hadsar — Chamba — Khajjiar — Dalhousie — Pathankot. The trek for Mani Mahesh starts from Hadsar which is located 71km from Chamba and 12km from Bharmour.
The Mani Mahesh Yatra happens from May to October. Tourists can visit the Chamba Kailash anytime during these months. However, the best time for Manimahesh Yatra is in June, August, and September. One can notice major temperature differences during the day and night in Manimahesh. The temperature during the day time ranges between 12°C - 20°C and the temperature during the night time ranges between 0°C - 6°C.
A ceremony known as "Chhari" (holy stick of Gur Charpathnath carried by the pilgrims on their shoulders) serves to announce the official beginning of the Manimahesh Yatra. It starts from the Laxmi Narayan temple and the Dashnami Akhara in Chamba town and as the colourful procession passes Hymns in honour of Lord Shiva are sung. When the procession reaches the Mani Mahesh lake, rituals are conducted all night long by State priests from the Bharmaur Brahmin family. The next day, devotees partake in a sacred bath (naun) in the Manimahesh Lake and later circumambulate the holy lake three times in order to receive blessings from Lord Shiva. According to popular mythology, Mata Parvati took a bath at the Gauri Khund while Lord Shiva did so at the Shiv Kalotri. Hence before taking the final dip in the sacred water of Manimahesh Lake, female devotees also take a dip in Gauri Kund, similarly, male devotees take a dip in Shiv Kalotri.
The official Mani Mahesh Kailash Yatra starts on Krishna Janmashtami, also known as Chota Snan (August), and finishes on Radha Ashtami, also known as Bada Snan (September). The dates for every year are different. Thousands of devotees visit Mani Mahesh during this time to take a dip in the Mani Mahesh Lake and seek the blessings of Lord Shiva.
The official Mani Mahesh Yatra 2022 was from 12th August 2022 to 04th September 2022. The official dates for Mani Mahesh Yatra 2023 are expected to be from 06th September 2023 to 23rd September 2023.
Mani Mahesh Kailash is regarded as unconquerable. Despite the fact that numerous individuals have successfully scaled much larger heights, such as Mount Everest, no one has yet been able to reach this holy peak. According to a legend, a Gaddi once attempted to ascend the Mani Mahesh mountain while leading his flock of sheep. However, he and his sheep are thought to have been turned to stone. The remains of the unfortunate shepherd and his sheep are considered to be located as a cluster of smaller peaks beneath the main mountain. Another tale claims that a snake too tried to reach this peak but failed and was subsequently turned into stone.
Trip To Temples offers 5 nights and 6 days package of Mani Mahesh that starts from Pathankot and ends at Pathankot.
It is considered that the Mani Mahesh Yatra is incomplete without paying reverence at Bharmani Devi Temple in Bharmour. So we begin the Kailash Yatra by visiting the Bharmani Devi Temple and later proceed to Danchoo - the base for Mani Mahesh Trek. After trekking from Danchoo, the yatries will reach Mani Mahesh Lake where a provision for taking a dip in the holy water is available. On their way back to Pathankot, the yatries will also get a chance to visit Khajjiar and Dalhousie. With this the Mani Mahesh Kailash Yatra will end with the blessings of Lord Shiva.
For more information on Mani Mahesh Tour Package, visit https://www.triptotemples.com/package/manimahesh-yatra or call/sms Mani Mahesh on 9911937751.
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