Saturday, April 05, 2008

A Trip to Manikaran Sahib

We recently returned from a few days up in the mountains with my cousin and family. We went to Manikaran Sahib, a Gurdwara that is located in the Parvati valley near Kulu and Manali in Himachal Pradesh.

The ride up was pretty twisty and turny. We had multiple vomit related pit stops. We've driven around the Cascades quite a bit without incident, but apparently the Himalayan mountain roads were too much for Nayan's stomach. Nonetheless, the drive was just spectacular. One of the things that is so different here, is that people, lots of people, actually live way up the mountain sides. Often there are no roads, just little trails; folks hike up many thousands of vertical feet to get to their houses. There's also an interesting network of rather sketchy cables and baskets to help people and goods traverse major valleys. Pictured below is me standing on one of many jerry rigged rafts that folks use to cross rivers.

The Gurdwara is built around natural hot springs; there are multiple baths where you can soak. The Gurdwara itself has a very universalist bent -- virtually every religious prophet is pictured throughout the Gurdwara; each time I went into the hot spring I had a different experience -- once with a group of Hindu priests, again w/ a number of Buddhist monks, more with Sikh pilgrims.
Here are a few snippets from on the history of the site: Guru Nanak Dev ji was with his Sikhs in the Himalaya mountains of India. His sikhs were hungry and there was no food. Guru Nanak sent his good friend Bhai Mardana to collect food for langar (the community kitchen). Many people donated rice and flour(atta)to make parsadas(bread). The one problem was that there was no fire to cook the food. Guru Nanak than lifted a rock and a hot spring appeared. The sikhs were able to make rice and beans.

Legend has it that once Lord Shiva and his divine consort Parvati were wandering in this sublime environment. Shiva liked the place and started meditating. Meanwhile, Parvati started taking a bath in the blue waters. While she was playing in the water she lost her earring. Shiva was enraged when he could not get back the earring, he started doing Tandav, the dance of destruction. The atmosphere got tense and Shiva threatened the serpent, the probable thief. The serpent fished the jewel out from the waters. Thus the river came to be known as Parvati and the place was called Mani(ring)Karan(ear).

1 comment:

Ghazala Khan said...

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Ghazala Khan
The Pakistani Spectator

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