Manimahesh Yatra is held from Janamashtmi (Birthday of Lord Krishna) to Radhastami (Birthday of Hindu Goddess Radha, who is almost always depicted alongside Lord Krishna) every year. It is believed that on this occasion Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati take a bath in the Lake. Manimahesh Yatra Chota Snan Will be held on Janamashtmi and Manimahesh Yatra Bada Snan will be held on Radhaashtmi. For this holy moment more than half a million people come from the country to take holy bath in the Manimahesh Lake (http://www.manimaheshyatra.co.in/manimahesh-lake/).
The religious sanctity / significance of Manimahesh Lake is very next to that of the Kailash Mansarover Lake in Tibet. Manimahesh Kailash Peak is believed to be abode of Lord Shiva. People firmly believe that a dip into the Lake would bring in peace and wash all their past sins.
Bharmour — Bharmani Mata Temple — Chaurasi temple
4 KM Visit to Bharmani Mata Temple can be taken either by taxi or by walking. It is believed visit to Bharmani temple before visiting Manimahesh Lake is mandatory and without visiting Bharmani temple, Manimahesh yatra is not considered complete. As per legends, To get the glimpse of Mani darshan (view), it is necessary to take bath in Brahmani’s pool before Manimahesh Lake. So do not miss this sacred visit. After Bharmani Mata Temple Visit, you can visit Chaurasi Temple at Bharmour.
Chaurasi Temple http://www.manimaheshyatra.co.in/bharmani-mata-temple-bharmour/
Bharmour — Hadsar : Bharmour to Hadsar is 13 KM — By Taxi, Bus or by foot
Hadsar-Dhanchoo (2900m) 6 KM — Just beyond Hadsar, their is a trail that climbs along the Gauri stream coming from the Manimahesh lake. The path ascends in dense forest for about 3 KM. As height is gained the tree line is left behind and the trail works through birch trees and bushes up to the alpine meadows of Dhanchoo. The camp ground is seen across the Gauri stream, near a fine waterfall. There is a corrugated shelter and one or two small rock shelters around the site.
The Ascent is pretty gradual for the first 2 KM, and then there were two quite small & safe glaciers to cross. Then the climb upto to Dhanchoo is quite steep and tiring. There is a waterfall just before Dhanchoo. Dhanchoo is the Midway of the journey & there is also a small shop for tea and light snacks over there. Also you will get lot of Langar (Free Food) Facility provided by Self Help Organizations (Sewaks) at Dhanchoo, actually not only at Dhanchoo, all the way upto Manimahesh Lake during Manimahesh Yatra Days. If you are a group of Young People, then you can plan to reach Gauri Kund or Shiv Kund in the same day to get Accomodation, otherwise it is advisable to find accommodation here at Dhanchoo for Night Stay.
Dhanchho — Manimahesh Lake (4115m)
From Dhanchoo there are basically two routes lead to the further trek of Mainmahesh Lake. One is Old, up the left side of the stream, is steep and very tiring, famous with the name of Bandar Ghati, It is a shorter but a little risky and narrow trek. Other is a new mule track which is a little longer but less steep than Bandar Ghati. You can take mule / Horse for your journey to Manimahesh Lake. On new trek there is a glacier which has to be crossed with Mahimahesh Nullah flowing rapidly underneath it.
After a trek of 2–3 KM there you will find a place called Shiv ka Gharaat (Flour mill of Lord Shiva). There is a rock where you can hear the voice of water flowing with voice inside rocky hill, but there is no source of water and thus it is folklore that Shiva ji had a flour mill inside this mountain, which is Source of Food for DEITY / GOD / Mankind. It’s a belief that those souls who have committed lot of sins in their life, after their death they churn the mills there. Some pilgrimage offer grains here as well.
Also landscape changes dramatically from Shiv ka Gharaat, with forest cover changing quickly into rocky terrain.
Next major stoppage in the route is Sundrasi, You can find food and accommodation here as well. From Sundrasi there are two routed one by Bharon Ghati (Bharon Valley) and other through the glaciers. One through the glacier is easier one and majority of the pilgrims follow this route. While you take this route make sure not to keep going and not stop for longer duration as oxygen level is less here.
Bharon Ghati is also one of the most steep & tiring sector of the whole trek approx distance around 2 KM. Bharon Ghati needs to be crossed quickly as its prone for shooting stones.
Next is Gauri Kund. Only ladies are allowed to bath in the Gauri Kund. Gauri is another name of Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva. A dip in this kund (pond) is considered sacred because it is believed that Parvati used to take bath here. Gauri kund is where women are supposed to take the holy dip, mens are not allowed to take holy dip in Parvati kund. From Gauri Kund one can catch the first glimpse of Manimahesh Kailash or Shiv-ling shaped “Kailash Parbat”.
From Gauri Kund there is further 1.5 KM climb for Holy Manimahesh Lake.
There is a four faced marble Shivling that is the main deity which is worshiped. A roofless temple, conspicuous with many iron trinkets, is seen on the opposite side. A cave shelter can be found in one corner.
You can find tent accommodation at Gauri Kund and Shiv Kund only during Manimahesh Yatra. Pilgrims take the holy dip amid the chanting of mantras. Thereafter, pilgrims offer prayers to Mount Kailash and make floral offerings at the image of Lord Shiva established on one side of the lake.
Kailash Darshan at Manimahesh and the complete Manimahesh Yatra is no doubt one of the best experience of one’s life. There you forget everything about world. It’s something hard to explain but to cherish forever.
Starting point of Manimahesh Yatra is Pathankot / Chakki Bank Railway ahead or Pathankot/ Gaggal Airport. One shall reach there and the onwards journey is described above.
For more information please visit http://www.manimaheshyatra.co.in/