The holy hot spring town: Manikaran, Parvati Valley
Manikaran or Manikaran Sahib as it is famously known amongst the religious pilgrims visiting the village is situated in the Parvati Valley of Kullu district in Himachal Pradesh. Manikaran is situated alongside the Parvati River, at an altitude of 5,574 feet above sea-level. As the names suggests is the land of the Himalayas and so Manikaran is also surrounded by picturesque mountains and lush greenery on all sides.
Manikaran is a small village which has tiny houses most of which are quite clustered and scattered around the village. The houses here are quite modernized owing to the tourists visiting the village. The town is famously known for the gurudwara and its hot springs. The gurudwara at Manikaran is believed to have reverence with Guru Gobind Singh. The hot spring around the gurudwara has curative properties and a visit here is considered to be as auspicious as a trip to the holy city of Varanasi.
Within the gurudwara premises is the langar or dinning hall where pilgrims are served hot and free food throughout the day. The gurudwara premises also include a hot cave where people sit and meditate or come to relax. The hot cave is enclosed by stones and is hot due to the heat waves of the hot springs.
The pilgrims visiting Manikaran make it a point to take a dip in the hot spring. In some areas the water of the hot spring is boiling hot where people use this water to cook food. It is a common site to see people put utensils filled with food packets in the hot spring in order to cook. The gurudwara langar food is also mostly cooked in a similar fashion.
There are also quite a few old Hindu temples which were built during the 17th century. There are temples dedicated to Lord Shiva, Krishna and Ram and hence the town is a highly frequented place for Hindus and Sikhs. While in Manikaran one can see plenty of small shops leading to the Gurudwara selling religious offerings and local handicrafts.
Manikaran has plenty of guest houses to meet the needs of the pilgrims. A lot of these guest houses are the extensions of the local houses and so most accommodation options here are quite basic. There are also plenty of eateries mostly serving Indian food and local dishes such as momos, parathas and chowmein.
The most commonly spoken languages here are Hindi and Punjabi although English is also fairly understood by the locals. Since, Manikaran is a religious centre; tourists visit the place all year round. The town is most crowded during weekends and during festivals owing to its easy accessibility from places such as Punjab and Chandigarh.
The only way to access Manikaran is by road. The nearest airport is at Bhuntar 45km from the town. The Bhuntar airport is shut for most part of the year owing to the bad weather conditions. Apart from Bhuntar the nearest airport to Manikaran is situated at Chandigarh. One can take government buses or can hire a private vehicle from New Delhi, Chandigarh, Punjab or Manali to reach Manikaran.
The best time to visit Manikaran is during May, August and September, since the weather is generally warm during the day and pleasant during the nights. The winter months of December to March are considerably cold.
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