Would you believe if I say, there are hot springs in the Himalayas somewhere? And would you also believe, the entire meals there are prepared using the hot water springs too? India has ample hidden gems and – the Manikaran Sahib in Himachal Pradesh nestled in the Himalayan region is one of them. It has natural phenomena like the hot water springs which are believed to heal the human body and soul.
Also, a very popular destination among Sikhs and Hindus because of the huge Gurudwara and Hindu temples inside it. And attracts a lot of people from India and outside to take blessings and see this mystical wonder of nature.
The hot springs emerge from the earth’s crust naturally and contain umpteen minerals. So, the temperature varies from 60-100 degrees (yes, that hot!). For usage purposes, it is mixed with the cold water or kept in a pool to bring the water to a normal temperature.
Although I had been to a hot spring beach in New Zealand, still I was excited to see such a natural wonder in my homeland. Moreover, I also wanted to see how meals are prepared using the hot springs.
My Journey to Manikaran Sahib in Himachal Pradesh
Manali – Bhuntar – Manikaran -> ~80 km drive
After spending a couple of days in Manali after my Spiti trip. I thought of taking a solo trip to Manikaran Sahib. After I visited Amritsar, this was the other religious place I took myself to. But here, I so utterly felt connected and blissed out with myself and nature, unlike other times.
The way to it from Manali was refreshing and beautiful. The sound and views of the Parvati River flowing beside the road throughout, the gigantic mountain views, the crisp and fresh air, and the cold yet soothing weather made it all worth taking the trip.
By afternoon, after approx 3.5 hours of slow hilly route journey through the steep mountains and valleys, I made it to the Manikaran Sahib Gurudwara in the Manikaran City. But most importantly, the route was fully enjoyable.
Inside the Manikaran Sahib Temple
After entering the temple premises, one would be left in Awe to see fumes coming out from the side of the bridge. It was other-worldly, and near it, the coldness of the weather, mountains, and valley, and the hotness of hot springs amalgamated well.
Natural beauty is also at its best even inside the temple premises.
Manikaran Sahib Gurudwara
I spent a lot of time inside the Gurudwara in tranquil attending Ardas. With having plans to stay here, I had no place to rush to.
Langar (community food) at Manikaran Sahib
The Langar food is served 24*7 for free to all the pilgrims. No matter where anyone comes from or of which religion, caste, the country they belong to. Among Sikhs, Seva (help) is a religious belief (serving God creations are equivalent to serving God). After having tasty Langar and getting around a bit, I thought of serving and felt great to have done something without any selfish purpose.
For cooking, the hot spring water is so suitable that the entire food is prepared by immersing the cooking vessels in the water pools. And I was so excited to see how they do it.
Took a dip in the Hot Water Spring Pool
Taking a bath in the hot spring pool is not something to be missed, it is believed to have many natural healing powers. Some of its benefits include relief from muscular or arthritic pain or skin irritations etc. For the females, they have a walled pool and there are no safety issues. The two men’s pools are inside (covered) and outside (in open). The mountains and the Parvati valley views from the outside pool would probably be an add-on to the experience.
At night, the multi-colored lighting looked so captivating.
Stay at the Gurudwara
Every pilgrim can also stay for free inside for any number of days as per the availability. The Gurudwara can accommodate around 4,000 people at a time. I stayed at Gurudwara’s facility which is inside the premises. Also, everyone, there is allocated a common room with a pillow and quilt.
The rooms were not good but I had no prior bookings elsewhere and didn’t want to go outside alone at night for safety reasons.
Shiva Temple and Hot Spring Pools used for cooking
The next morning, I woke up at 6 AM-ish and felt so blissed out amidst nature.
There are many Hindu temples and a huge Shiva Temple inside the premises. Near it, there are also many small hot water pools where the food gets prepared. I bought Bengal grams (desi chana) tied in a muslin cloth and a thread string attached to it to dip and boil them. Also, I saw them preparing tea by immersing the container inside the pool.
And it didn’t take more than a few seconds to completely boil it. 😀
Now, after having breakfast, it was time for me to leave for Chandigarh Airport to catch my flight in the evening. If I would some more days, I would have stayed in Kasol or gone for the Kheerganga Trek but hopefully next time! 🙂
How to reach Manikaran Sahib in Himachal Pradesh?
Flight – There is no Airport in Manikaran. The nearest major Airports are Chandigarh International Airport and Shimla Airport which are at a distance of ~300 km and takes ~8-9 hours to reach Manikaran by cab or bus. (Skyscanner).
Train – There is no railway station in the city, the nearest major station is Chandigarh Railway Station and Shimla Railway Station which are at a distance of ~250 km and takes ~7-8 hours by bus or cab. (IRCTC).
Bus – This is probably the best option to reduce the traveling cost but the journey may be super slow. Many local buses to Manikaran are only available from Bhuntar Bus Stand (Distance ~35 km). Many private/local buses ply from Delhi, Manali, Shimla, Amritsar, Chandigarh, and nearby cities to Bhuntar. (Redbus).
Cab/Taxi – If you don’t want to compromise on comforts or aren’t comfortable driving on hilly routes, this is a feasible option. There are many cab operators from all the major nearby cities.
Self-Drive – If you are short on time or if you want to pitstop and enjoy or capture the picturesque views on the route, then going on your own is the best way.
Places to Stay
The accommodation at the Gurudwara is provided to all the pilgrims on request for free. But there is no booking facility. Everyone only gets a common room by showing a valid government ID.
If you are looking for any place outside the temple, there are many stay options in Kasol or at a distance of 4-5 km away towards Kheerganga trek.
Places to Eat
At the Manikaran Sahib Gurudwara, the food is served 24*7 for free. One can have a tasty and complete meal there. Or there are ample cafes and restaurants at the nearby Kasol town.
Can everyone take a dip in the Hot water pool in Manikaran?
YES! There are two separate sections, one for males (covered and open pool) and the other one for females (covered pool). Also, it is good to carry your towel, toiletries, and spare clothes as it’s a very small town and you may not find utilities easily.
Other things to do and places to visit nearby
There’s nothing much to do in Manikaran city. But being in the mountain region, there are some famous treks like the Harinder Mountain trek, Kheerganga trek, and Tirthan Valley only at a few km distances.
Also, there are small yet happening towns nearby like Kasol, Tosh, Malana, Chalal, etc.
How much Manikaran trip may cost?
The major portion will depend upon how you are reaching Manikaran. The stay and food, both are at a very nominal charge there – Max 1000 INR/per person/per day. If you are staying and eating in the Gurudwara everything will be at no cost.
Best time to Visit Manikaran
All around the year.
But winter season would be a good time, also because it snows here during this season (October – February).
Bits of Advice
- It is good to start early or reach before dawn. The route is hilly and you may also miss the pleasing views in the dark.
- Inside the Gurudwara’s premise, everyone has to cover their head throughout. If someone doesn’t follow it, the consequences may not be favorable.
- Wearing covered clothes is highly advisable as it is a religious place, so people for obvious reasons are sentimental about it.
- If you have plans to stay inside the temple, avoid carrying too much luggage. Although, there are cloakrooms still there isn’t any lift to carry them to the 4th or 5th floor.
- If you are having langar, it is advisable not to leave the food. Take as much food as you can eat.
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