Located 45 km from Kullu at an altitude of 1737 m is Manikaran, a famous Hindu and Sikh pilgrimage destination in the state of Himachal Pradesh. The term Manikaran means jewel of ear. Manikaran is a pilgrimage centre for Hindus and Sikhs. The Hindus believe that Manu recreated human life in Manikaran after the flood, making it a sacred area. It has many temples and a gurudwara.
The Manikaran Gurudwara or Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji Gurudwara is commemorated to the visit of Guru Nanak Dev to this place. It is mentioned in the Janam Sakhi or the 'Twarikh Guru Khalsa' by Giani Gian Singh. It has been mentioned that accompanied by his disciple Bhai Mardana, the Guru reached Jwalamukhi temple after visiting Kalanaur, Gurdaspur, Dasuya, Triloknath, Palampur and Kangra. The Guru then proceeded towards Mandi and after visiting Chamba and Kulu, he came to Bijli Mahadev. After preaching at all these places Guru Nanak Dev came to Mani Karan. The Janam Sakhi or the "Autobiography of Bhai Mardana" mentions the miracles did by the Guru. The Guru came to Mani Karan along with his Five 'Piaras' or followers.
The Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji Gurudwara provides some extraordinary sights. One can enjoy a dip in the hot waters from the springs. There are altogether three baths; one is located under the Gurudwara itself. By taking bath here and by drinking water of this place, people go to Heaven; this is said of the Manikaran tract since the times immemorial. It is understood that the Manikaran hot spring is said to have got Uranium and other radio active minerals.
The legend of Manikaran states that while roaming around, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, once chanced upon a place that was surrounded by mountains and was lush green. Enamoured by the beauty of the place, they decided to spend some time there. It is believed that they actually spent eleven hundred years here.
During their stay here, Goddess Parvati lost her mani in the waters of a stream. Upset over the loss, she asked Shiva to retrieve it. Lord Shiva commanded his attendant to find out the mani for Parvati, however, when they failed, he was extremely angry. He opened his third eye, a tremendously inauspicious event which led to disturbances in the universe. An appeal was made before the serpent god, Sheshnag, to pacify Lord Shiva. Sheshnag hissed thereby giving rise to a flow of boiling water. The water spread over the entire area resulting in the emergence of precious stones of the type Goddess Parvati had lost. Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati were happy at the outcome.
The name Manikaran is derived from this legend. The water is still hot and is considered extremely auspicious. A pilgrimage to this place is thought of as complete. Infact, it is also believed that there is no need to pay a visit to Kashi after visiting this place. The water of the spring is also supposed to have curative powers. The water is so hot that rice can be cooked in it.
Manikaran as Sikh Pilgrimage Destination
Manikaran is also an extremely sacred place for the Sikh population of the country since it is believed that Guru Nanak Dev payed a visit here. The record of this can be found in the Janam Sakhi or the 'Twarikh Guru Khalsa' (by Giani Gian). There is a mention that along with his disciple Bhai Mardana, Guru Nanak came down to this place after visiting Kalanaur, Gurdaspur, Dasuya, Triloknath, Palampur, Kangra, Mandi, Chamba and Kulu and Bijli Mahadev. He was also accompanied by five of his followers or 'piaras'.
The Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji Gurudwara of Manikaran
The Gurudwara is very renowned because of its association with Guru Nanak. Devotees to this Gurudwara can take a holy dip in the hot water emanating from the springs. Out of three baths, one is situated below the Gurudwara itself. There are separate arrangement for men and women. Quiet closeby is a langarkhana where free food is served.
Other Attractions at Manikaran
Lord Ramchandra Temple
This is perhaps the most important temple of Manikaran. The temple was constructed by Raja Jagat Singh in the 17th century. Though there is no historical evidence backing, still the idol of Shri Ram installed here is believed to have been brought straight from Ayodhya. An idol of Rama's younger brother, Laksmana was also supposed to be there, however, it has now nowhere to be seen. An idol of Goddess Sita accompanies that of Lord Rama. The temple was renovated by Raja Dilip Singh in the year 1889. Though the history of the temple is inscribed in a stone of walls, yet nothing is visible. Today, the temple is been looked after by a trust. There are three halls and forty rooms in the temple complex, specially meant for the visiting devotees. A lungar is oragnised to distribute food to the devotees.
Temple of Lord Shiva
This temple is hugely revered as it belongs to Lord Shiva. However, an earthquake in the 1905 caused a bit of damage to the temple and it got slightly tilted. The importance of Manikaran is also judged from the fact that devtas of Kullu valley pay regular visit to this place on specified date.
Manikaran is located in a valley between two rivers, northeast of Bhuntar in the Kulu District of Himachal Pradesh. It is at an altitude of 1760 m and is located about 45 kms from Kullu.