Shrikhand Mahadev : Abode of Lord Shivaby Vandana Bhagra, Shimla
A covers of clouds with emerging sunlight greets you early morning with open arms sending you to a blissful world, forcing you to leave your worries behind and just emerge yourself in this heavenly scenery. Mahadev as the name suggests is the abode of Lord Shiva, at almost 19,000 feet above sea level in the Great Himalayan National Park in Banjar, Kullu and the awe inspiring natural rock-made Shivalingam which is almost 72 feet high is out of this world and mostly surrounded by a snowfield. Devotees of Lord Shiva can be seen trekking through the mountains to reach this hilly terrain all through July and August just to pay their respect as it is a famous pilgrimage for Hindus. Legend goes that Lord Shiva meditated here and the Pandavas used to visit this peak. It is also said that Bhim ki Bahi or the huge stone tablets with hieroglyphics were once noted by Bhim himself as he kept an account Pandava’s adventures.
Devoid of any form of grass, flowers, plants or tress all you will witness is lots of snow and huge rocks. Despite the fact that there are heavy snowfalls during the year the Shivalingam is never covered in snow. The heavy cloud movement around the hills is amazing and as visibility reduces you will find yourself engulfed with it, like some special effects had just been used. But then this is natural beauty at its best.
Spending a day at the mountain top can be very exciting as well as thrilling. As morning turns to noon the clouds start to play hide and seek with the mountains changing colour every hour. During early hours and on a clear sunny day one can capture all the details on the mountains and the sudden changing weather is totally surprising and enjoyable too. You can actually stand on dry land and experience rain few hundred meters away while waiting to get there. Nothing can beat the sunset view as you enjoy the wonderful journey through the clouds
Those planning a trip can take the route from Nirmand or from the other side from Asru. The trek from Jaon Village takes about 38 kilometres to reach the Shrikhand Peak. Meticulous planning as well as prior advice from few adventure clubs will come in handy. To make your trek more comfortable and enjoyable, carry few energy bars, glucose or biscuits, water, walking stick, essential medicine as well as a torch. A guide or a coolie is also advised.
En route you will come across small rickety bridges over gushing mountain streams near Barahati and an almost seven hours trek from here will take you to Thachru. Apple orchards between Jaon Village and Singh Ghat are inviting as you can always have a bite, of course taking permission from the owners. Though this stretch is quite steep through the forest followed by a long and a wide plateau with wild flowers, you can see the astounding views of the mountains among the clouds and the valley of flowers especially known for its rich herbal and medicinal plants. As you trek through the dark, eerie forests, guzzling waterfalls you may find yourself out of breath while climbing the final stretch to Shrikhand Mahadev as it is almost a vertical climb over the rocks. Other notable stops include the Kali Ghati, Bheem Dwari, Nain Sarovar and Parvati Bag, which finally takes you to the rocky mountain climb and into the clouds. There were no tree between Thacharu and Kaali Ghati and as you move forward all you can see are the snow covered hills. As there are no water sources beyond Nain Sarovar, be sure to pack lots of water. This place is also famous for its rare and magnificent Brahmkamal flowers, and it is also said that the glacial lake was formed from a teardrop from Goddess Parvati’s eyes. Bheem Paudi or steps as the name suggests is full of huge rocks with various kinds of markings. View of the early morning Shrikhand Shivlingam is just striking and if you happen to reach on a full moon night the whole area glimmers in moonlight, hence enriching your experience of being there. Devotees of Lord Shiva would love to witness this natural marvel but those into adventure and trekking will be equally thrilled to visit this awesome as well as wondrous miracle.
Photo credits: VJ Sharma