One does not always visit the sanctum sanctorum of the divine in search of divinity; sometimes you do it to satiate your wanderlust too. Tourists and travelers like me are often on the lookout for temples in a city because that is where you not only get tranquility but also a glimpse into the history and a peek into the rich culture and heritage of the country. Kullu and Manali have a lot to offers when it comes to some temples that are a work of art.
- Hadimba Temple
Nestled among a thicket of Deodar trees, this temple has beckoned devotees and tourists alike when they are in the city. Built in the 15th century, this seven storied temple is dedicated to Hidimba who was the wife of the Pandav Bheem from Mahabharata. One can easily see the influence of Tibetan culture in the architecture of this temple which has been made out of wood. Don’t miss the doors of this temple which are adorned with intricate carvings of Goddess Durga. A little away from the main temple is another small temple which is dedicated to Ghatotkach, who was the son of Hidimba and Bheem.
- Jamul temple
This temple located in Kullu, in the village of Malana, is highly revered to by the Gaddi tribe. The temple would really test your dedication and stamina, for the only way to reach it is through trekking along a strenuous winding trail. It is also used by the locals as the seat of justice for settling disputes.
- Tibetan Monasteries
The Tibetan Monasteries in Kullu and Manali are a window into the Tibetan culture and exude a sense of calm and serenity. The most famous ones in the area are Himalayan Nyingmapa Gompa and Gadhan Thekchhokling Gompa. These monasteries are built in the style of a Pagoda and house the shrines of Lord Buddha. I managed to pick up some great Tibetan artifacts and shawls from there and if you have time in hand you can do some souvenir shopping.
Manikaran is considered a pilgrimage both by the Sikh as well as the Hindu community. People visiting Kullu and Manali make it a point to visit Manikaran which has several tales and stories related to it. The hot springs here will calm your senses while you take in the beauty of the place. Manikaran is home to Sri Guru Nanak Ji Gurudwara, Shiva Temple and Kulanth Pith which are all worth a visit.
- Manu temple
A famous tourist attraction of Manali, Manu Temple is built along the Beas River and reflects the Pagoda style of architecture. The temple pays homage to the sage Manu, who is known for penning down the Manu Smriti and for giving the basics of law and order to us. If you wish to seek just the divine blessings, you can spend some time at the temple premises but if the adventurer in you starts to kick in, you can visit the marketplace nearby or try the adventure sports activities that take place at the river.
Vashishth is known not only for its hot springs but also for its sandstone temples. It is a strong belief among devotees that a dip in the springs has medicinal properties to heal skin diseases. The temple is made out of stone and has some great wood carvings too.
- Gauri Shankar Temple
This is an ancient temple paying homage to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. The temple is built under the Naggar castle and showcases the Shikhara style of architecture. Beas River nearby and dense foliage around the temple, make this the perfect spot to spend some time communing with the Almighty. The tinkling sound of the bells mixes with the sound of the river to create a symphony that will fill your heart with great joy.
- Krishna Temple
Located at Thava in Naggar, you will need to trek a small path of around one km to reach this temple. Built in wood and stone in the Shikhara style, the temple dates back to the 12th century. It houses idols of Lord Krishna, Radha, Laxminarayan, and Garuda. The magnificent chariot kept in the premises is used during Dussehra celebrations.
All in all, don’t forget to explore the areas around all these temples and to wear comfortable shoes, for you would need to trek a lot. Nirvana requires penance you see!