In the year 1982 I heard about Valley of Flowers and Manimahesh. We came across a middle aged woman on our Kedarnath trip, who had been traveling alone for years, which was considered an exceptional event in those days. She said, “No one is alone in Himalayas.” She had many experiences which she shared with us. My mother asked her, “Which is the most beautiful and which is the most difficult destination according to your opinion?” She replied that Valley of flowers and Manimahesh respectively.
So after completing my Valley of Flowers trip I was trying to get information about Manimahesh. One of my travel freak Facebook friends advised me to go there during the time of mela which takes place in August or September every year between Janmastami and Radhastami. Otherwise its difficult to get food and shelter at night. I managed to fulfill my wish in 2017.
From Pathankot I reached Chamba by bus in the evening. From Chamba buses ply to Bharmor. There were special buses for pilgrims till late night during mela period. I stayed one night at Chamba in a hotel near old bus stand and one night at Bharmor HPTDC tourist lodge and visited Bharmani Devi temple.
Next early morning I started for Manimahesh by bus. I reached Hadsar which was the starting point of the trek for Manimahesh at around 9-30 AM. Ponies were also available during mela but the route was very steep at some places, so one has to get down and walk from time to time in different places according to the instruction of the syce.
I started walking from the gate, there were few stair cases, and after that there was the trekking trail. I ate breakfast at a Voluntary Service Medical Center. They were very congenial and helpful who provided me ORS, and gave first-aid for my scratches on face. One of them informed me that the MANI of Manimahseh could be seen only at night and on previous day it was seen at 3 AM. So I should keep myself cautious at night, and as it was too cold, he suggested me to take a tent that faced the holy mountain so that I did not need to come out to witness that unique phenomenon.
After walking one and half kilometer I took a pony. Those who trek till the end has to take breaks for food and repose at two points, one is Dhancho and another is Sundarasi. Some people stay at Gaurikund too.
The path was difficult but beautiful. Iravati or Ravi river accompanied all along the way. Ravi river initiates from this region. Some people were bathing in this river. There were several Langars (free food centers) at places. They were organized mostly by the Punjabi or Sikh people. They were generous and did not discriminate people by religion as I had seen in my Amarnath trip. My pony owner and I took our lunch in a langar. Food was very good and fresh.
I reached Gaurikund at 4 pm, many people halted there for night stay, but I decided to go up to Shivkund and visit Gaurikund on my way back. Reaching Shivkund, I hired a mountain facing tent with blankets, sharing with another person at the cost of 600 rupees, The mountain was covered with mist, I felt very disappointed. After dinner I came back to tent and tried to take rest. I realized that it was difficult to sleep not only for cold weather but also for a discomfort to stay at an altitude of 4,080 meters ( 13,390 ft ).
After a long time when had I fallen asleep I did not know, suddenly there was an uproar of “Jai Bhole” which awoke me up. I opened the tent flap and saw the Mani ( the jewel ) on Mt Manimahesh. It was a unique phenomenon. The crescent moon appeared on the peak in such a way that it seemed like a diamond. The sky was absolutely clear. Gradually the crescent moon rose up, innumerable stars and constellations were clearly visible. It was a surreal feeling to be there. Suddenly I saw a shooting star. Tears came in my eyes and I thought there was nothing that I could ask God to gift me. I never thought my long wish for visiting Manimahesh would be fulfilled in such a way.
Next day I started early morning for Hudsar and visited Parvati Kund. I reached Hudsar at around 11 AM. From there I went to Kugti Village by shared jeep.
My experiences of Kugti, KarthikSwami temple.
N.B. To reach Manimahesh one has to reach Chamba( Himachal Pradesh ). Buses ply from Chamba to Bharmor and Hudsar. From Hudsar it is almost 18 kilometer steep uphill trekking. Ponies are available during mela which takes place from Janmastami to Radhastami ( August/ September). Langars are set up only during this period.