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Mandi & Palampur
 

Blessed with some of the most spectacular and beautiful landscapes anywhere, it is a travellers paradise -lofty snow peaks, deep gorges, lush green valleys, fast flowing rivers, enchanting mountain lakes, flower bedecked meadows, beautiful temples and monasteries steeped in time. May it be for relaxing, sightseeing, trekking, mountaineering, fishing, para-gliding, skiing, ice skating and golf, Himachal has it all...Come Explore Himachal with himachaltourist...

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 practised unthinkable austerities on his body, on the right bank of the river Beas, near the present town, which, then took his name.

PRIME ATTRACTIONS

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.

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- symbolising the male and female principles of cosmic evolution.

EXCURSIONS

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 all seven of them can be moved by prayer or breeze. 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.

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 hydro-electric 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.

Prashar Lake: 40-km on the banks of the lake is a storyed pagoda-like temple dedicated to sage Parashar.

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.

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.

About Palampur
The Kangra valley of which Palampur (1249 m) is a major station, was the 'Trigarta' of old. It was one of the leading hill states and was once a part of the kingdom of Jalandhara.

In local parlance, the word for 'lots of water' is 'pulum'. This is what has given Palampur its name and it is water that has given the valley so much of its character. Countless streams and brooks criss-cross the landscape and in their intricate mesh, are tea gardens and rice paddies. The town came into being when the tea bush was introduced in the 19th century - and Palampur became a focus of planters. Kangra tea, with its centre at Palampur, has been internationally acclaimed since then.

To further bless the area with remarkable natural beauty, the Dhauladhar ranges rise dramatically from the earth, just beyond Palampur. The town itself has some interesting colonial architecture and the area around is richly garnished with historical temples and forts - and scores of picturesque hamlets.

How to get there
The airport at Gaggal (Kangra) is 37 km from Palampur. The broadguage railway reached Pathankot which is 115 km from Palampur - and the narrow guage railway comes right upto Moranda, 4 km from the town. Taxis and buses are available at both places. By road, Palampur is 545 km from Delhi.

Climate
In winter, the temperature can get quite low when heavy wollens are required. It is warm in summer and cotton are recommended.

Places of interest in and around Palampur

Tea Factory (1.5 km): At the very start of town, the tea factory of the co-operative society, offers an insight to the processing of Kangra tea.

Church of St. John in the Wilderness (200 m): This attractive church, very close to the hotel and surrounded by poinsettias, is built on a low rise. This was reconstructed in 1929 and has several memorial tablets.

Temple of Bundlamata (2 km): One can walk through tea gardens and open fields or drive to reach this historical temple which was originally built about five centuries ago.

Neugal Khad: Close to the temple of Bundlamata, is this 300 m wide chasm, through which the Bundla stream flows. Immediately ahead are the Dhauladhar mountains.

Gopalpur (13 km): There is a mini zoo here.

Chamunda Devi (18 km): Legend has it that two demons, Chanda and Munda tried to harass the goddess Ambika. Enraged, Ambika knitted her brows and from their folds emerged a terrifying of Kali, who slew the demons. Pleased, Ambika declared that Kali would now be worshipped here as 'Chamunda'. Himachal Tourism also runs a 'Yatri Niwas' at this sacred place.

Andretta (13 km): This has been the home of artists Norah Richards, Sobha Singh and B.C. Sanyal. In Sobha Singh's home, now a gallery, several of his notable works are displayed. There is also a pottery and crafts centre at Andretta.

Kangra Fort (27 km): The most important fort of the region, it is enclosed by high ramparts and its walls have a circumference of approximately 4 km. It was built about 1,000 years ago on the confluence of the Banganga and Manjhi rivers. Its various gates, shrines and remains of the old palaces are noteworthy.

Sujanpur Tira (42 km): Built in 1758, the fortress of Tira has the remnants of old halls, palaces and temples. The town of Sujanpur below the fort, has several old temples of which the Narbadeshwar and Murli Manohar are exemplary.

Tashijong (12 km): There is a Tibetan monastery here.

Baijnath (15 km): At the jewel-like temple of Bajnath, Lord Shiva is revered as Vaidyanath-the Lord of Physicians. With a wealth of intricate carvings and graceful proportions, this temple is a big draw for pilgrims and visitors. It is said that here, King Ravana supplicated Lord Shiva for the boon of immortality.

 
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