Located on the banks of river Parvati in the Kullu district at a distance of about 4km from Kasol in the Parvati Valley. This is known to be a famous pilgrimage destination for Sikhs as well as Hindus. The place houses hot springs, Gurudwara Manikaran Sahib and even a group of temples forming a religious pattern which attracts people from across the places. There are three hot springs out of which one is inside the Gurudwara, and the other two privatized by the guesthouses. People take bath in these hot springs because of its content of sulfur which is capable of curing diseases. There are different sections for men and women to take bath in these hot springs which also holds high religious as well as spiritual significance. The temperature of the water here is hot enough to cook food by directly placing the vessels over the water. The same food is served in Gurudwara as langar.
How to Reach Manikaran
Visitors can travel to this place from Kullu as well as Manali as both are located in the proximity of the town. Many people traveling to Kasol visit Manikaran since it is very closely located. Local buses and cabs on hire are easily available around this region.
By Air- The nearest airport is in Bhuntur at a distance of 35 km from Manikaran. You will find many local buses running from Bhuntur airport towards Manikaran or you can even hire a cab. Another major airport with vast connectivity is in Chandigarh from where it takes about 8 hours to reach Manikaran.
By Rail- Nearest railway station is in Pathankot which is about 300km from Manikaran and takes about 8 hours of travel further to reach the destination. Major north Indian cities are connected to this rail link located in Punjab.
By Road- The roads to this region are very well connected to major cities around like Shimla, Chandigarh, Pathankot and New Delhi. You can take buses or taxis conveniently to reach Manikaran by road.
Best time to visit Manikaran
The town of Manikaran is located at a height of about 1760 meters above sea level making the region quite cold during most part of the year because of which it is mostly visited during the summers by the travelers.
Summer (April to June) is bearable with temperatures ranging from 6 degrees Celsius to 15 degrees Celsius. Carry essential warm clothes even while you travel to the region during summers. The heat from the hot springs makes the temperatures bearable making summers an ideal time of the year to visit Manikaran.
During Monsoons (July – September) the region receives an average of 200mm rainfall. Rains in the region are more often leading to hindrance of your travel plans. However, the beauty of the region is in its bountiful form during these months which also attracts the tourists.
The roads remain inaccessible due to the thick snow that presses on to the ground during winters (October- March). The temperatures go to as low as -8 degreeCelcius making the region non-idealistic tot visit.
Places to visit in Manikaran
Sri Guru Nanak Devji Gurudwara
This is a highly revered place of worship among the Sikhs which is also mentioned in the ‘Twelfth Guru Khalsa’ by Giani Gian Sikh. It is believed to have been visited by the Guru Nanak with his five disciples making it a place of high significance for the Sikh community. The langar served here is also quite big which provides free food to the disciples and the needy.
Believed to be a place where Lord Shankar stayed here for a while, this is amongst the superior and most sacred piths of the country. The purity of the place is believed to be marked by the Lord Shiva’s stay. Vishnu Kund is believed to the purest of all which takes away the anger and evil of the individuals taking a dip into it. People also cook or boil the food from the Kund and consume it with a belief that it will take them to the Vishnu Lok.
The town of Manikaran is surrounded by the snow-capped mountains of the Harinder mountains. View from atop these mountains gives you a wonderful view of the town as well as the river Parvati the banks on which the town is located.
Legends surrounding the hot springs as well as its natural marvel makes them a fascinating attraction. Contents of Uranium and other radioactive elements and is believed to cure diseases for those taking a dip in these springs. This attracts the tourists in the region because of the belief that these hot springs are also holy. The water here is extremely hot that even the rice can boil in them. Sikhs believe that during Guru Nanak Devji visit to the region in the 16th century he couldn’t find a source of fire to cook food for the needy. On praying to god the spring was turned into a hot spring. However Hindu’s believe that Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati were living here for about 1100 years during which Goddess Parvati lost some precious stones which couldn’t be found after all the efforts. This led to the opening of the third eye by Lord Shiva as he got very furious. Sheshnag to pacify Lord Shiva’s anger hissed which brought the boiling water into existence and the stones could be found.
Lord Shiva Temple
Dedicated to the Lord Shiva this temple attracts a large number of tourists throughout the year. It is believed that Devtas of Kullu regularly visit this temple which brings in the significance associated with it. An earthquake in 1905 caused slight damages to the overall temple which even tilted it slightly.
Lord Ramachandra Temple
A popular religious centre of the area was built by Raja Jagat Singh in the 17th century. Lord Ramachandra temple is famous for the glorious idols of Lord Ram and Goddess Sita placed in there. It is in the center of the city with 3 halls and 40 rooms for the devotees who visit. Devotees are also arranged with langer to be fed by the temple.
Most commonly Suggested Itinerary while visiting Manikaran
Day 1- Take a tour of gurudwara, explore and learn the reasons for its sacredness. Cherish the food from Langar which is simple yet delicious coming all the way from the direct kitchens of the temple freshly cooked. Relax in peace after a dip in the hot springs which washes if not impurities at least the mental and physical strain you have been carrying all along. There are guesthouses as well as spaces offered by the gurudwara where you can choose to spend the night.
Day 2- Start your day with a dip in the Kulant Pith followed by a visit to the Lord Ramchandra Temple and the Lord Shiva temple. These temples also serve meals in the form od Langar to the devotees. Check out the markets and breathe in the vibe as you prepare yourself for the places to visit further from here.
Food in Manikaran
There are not many options for food in the town. One can enjoy the meals organized by the langars in temples and Gurudwaras in the area. The food cooked in there are delicious as well as hygienic which can also be packed and carried further. Himachali cuisine is simple consisting mainly of Chapati, dals, vegetable gravy and curd.