Next to icy waters of the Parvati River bubble the hot sulphur springs at Manikaran, a famous destination for both Sikh and Hindu pilgrims. It is also popular among those with a streak for the wild for the region abounds with trekking areas and streams, which are an angler’s delight.
Only 45 kms from Kullu, on the right bank of Parvati River (a tributary of Beas River) is Manikaran. The valley, the place and the setting hold such charm that it even attracted Guru Nanak, the first Sikh guru, to spend some time here. A gurudwara has been built to commemorate his visit to the place. Sikh pilgrims in the footsteps of their great founder come here to live the environment in which Guru Nanak meditated.
A gurudwara and a temple in close proximity of each other exist in perfect harmony here.
Folk tales in the area tell that goddess Parvati the consort of Lord Shiva used to bathe in the river. One day while she was bathing the serpent god of the underworld Naga made of with her ear rings. This infuriated Lord Shiva who threatened the serpent. It is said that Naga snorted angrily and the jewels came out from under the earth. Hot waters followed the vents from where the earrings came out and still do.
The water from the steaming springs here is therapeutic and known for its healing properties. The temperature of the water is so hot that rice tied in a muslin cloth and dipped in can be cooked. The place derives it name from the jewels and the river from the goddess herself.
Life here moves at a gentle pace with Himachali’s leading a simple life, tending to their orchards, fields and flocks. Keeping alive their rich art and culture they remain immersed in annual rounds of fairs and festivals, full of music, song and dance. For the visitor there are superb locations for relaxing and sigh seeing.
The region is surrounded with snowcapped peaks and glaciers, and it has remained popular with adventure seekers and trekkers. There are many interesting trekking routes with wonderful scenery starting from here which lead to the Dhauladhar and the Inner Himalayan ranges. One of the most popular routes is the one to the source of River Parvati itself and it further goes over the Pin Parvati Pass into the arid Pin valley of the Spiti region. Another interesting route takes you into the archaic Malana village and ends at Naggar in the main Kullu valley. In-between one has to traverse three high altitude passes along the way.
Trout is one of the finest fresh cold water fish in the world. Introduced by the British into the streams of Himachal the water around Manikaran is an angler’s delight. The tributary Parvati joins the main river of the area Beas on the left bank at Bhunter. The entire 35 km stretch from Bhunter to Manikaran has pools of trout but at places they are inaccessible and dangerous and should be avoided. However, Kasol, Shat and Jari are good fishing spots providing rewarding catches.
The highway Bilaspur-Mandi to Kullu-Manali gets you to Bhunter, which is 10 kms short of Kullu town. Bhunter also has the only airport, big enough for small aircraft, to the entire valley. A road diverging of at Bhunter which crosses the Beas River take you into the Parvati valley. Manikaran is only 35 km away from Bhunter. Himachal tourism runs Hotel Parvati at Manikaran and there are other accommodations available here. Taxis for Kullu-Bhunter or elsewhere are readily available from Manikaran.