If you have been looking for a disconnect from the real and stressful lives that we lead, head to Chindi, in Karsog valley this summer.
Located at 98 kms from Shimla, the aura and the location of the place will automatically slow down your system and make you feel one with nature. Start early from Shimla and if travelling with kids stock up on snacks and water, as the drive does not have very many options for stopping over. In just two hours you will reach Taatapani, which is the last good place to stop for a meal or for just stretching your legs.
Once you leave Tattapani, the road becomes much narrower and we strongly advise that if you are not used to driving in the hills, please hire a driver and ensure that the vehicle is in top shape. The next service station is only in Karsog, which is another 70 kms or so. The hills and the topography look very different from now onwards. You will cross small villages with three or four houses. The air is fresh, clean and rejuvenates your senses instantly.
We crossed many small villages with populations less than a thousand. Most villages have a small tea vendor, where men can be seen sitting and gossiping and a tailoring shop where we saw women learning how to stitch clothes. Otherwise the area seems to be still very untouched by modern commercialization. We were booked at the Hotel Mamleshwar, HPTDC, Chindi.
Before you actually reach Chindi, about 10kms before, on to your right you will see a gate for Mool Mahunag Temple. A byroad takes you to this beautiful and ancient temple in the hills. The temple is highly revered and is dedicated to Lord Karan from the Mahabhrata.
One of those rare temples in india, where the deity chooses to meets it’s devotees only on sankrant. On all other days the doors to the main sanctum remains locked. What we found most fascinating was that the road actually comes to an end when you reach the temple complex. As if you were always meant to come here!
After the visit to the temple we headed to Chindi. The drive was bumpy but the trees and the greenery made up for it. The Hotel Mamleshwar, HPTDC, is a pretty decent property. Located in the midst of an apple orchard on one side and the wilderness on the other, it definitely transports you to a different zone.
There is not much to do in Chindi, it has the very beautiful and recently renovated Chindi Mata temple and opportunities to go for long walks.
Infact the Chindi Mata temple is so pretty and peaceful is that we visited it thrice during our visit. A full day trip can be planned from Chindi to Karsog. The Karsog valley has a distinct personality of its own. You will be temped like we were, to stop the car and just take in the beauty all around.
We visited the Kamakhya Mata temple, which is at a distance of 7 kms from the main market. The temple is very old and exquisite. The wood carving is exceptional and it is worth the bumpy ride that you have to undertake to reach there. The temple has a sleeping chamber dedicated to the Goddess, where it is believed that the Goddess comes every night to rest.
On our way back we stopped at the famous Shiva temple called Mamleshwar. Another jewel in Karsog valley, which should not be missed. The temple is very old and still retains it’s old world charm. We were suprised to see no cctv cameras or security guards at any of the temples. Infact at the Chindi Mata temple and Kamakhya Mata temple, there was no panditji too.
At the Mamleshwar temple, you will see a preserved grain of wheat which is as big as a mango. Request the pandidtji to show it to you, There is an akahand dhuni at the temple, which is believed to have been burning since the existence of the temple.
There are not many good options to eat in Karsog, We just saw a few dhabas serving decent and simple vegetarian food. Please remember to carry food and water if travelling with small children. The weather was very pleasant even in June and the fresh air was tempting us to extend our stay.
Chindi is a beautiful offbeat location which can be combined with a visit to Mandi or Manali. Stop over when you are travelling back from Mandi. The trees, the birds, had cast a spell on us for the time we were there. The children were lucky to spot birds in all colors and a fox at a distance on one evening too.
Next time when you want to be int he hills , but away from the tourists and usual holiday makers, head to Chindi.