Words defy to describe the majestic grandeur of Manali. In our constantly moving, 24/7 society, we’re in a frenetic rat race! With so much technology and gadgetry, we hardly have any time to take rest. Manali’s awe-inspiring beauty was a perfect resting place for my sapped soul.
Manali is named after the Hindu lawgiver Manu. The word ‘Manali’ comes from ‘Manu-Alaya’ which literally means “the abode of Manu”. Legend has it that sage Manu stepped off his ark in Manali to recreate human life after a great flood had deluged the world. Manali is also often referred to as the ‘Valley of the Gods’. The Old Manali village has an ancient temple dedicated to Manu.
From the pages of history:
The valley in ancient time was sparsely populated by nomadic hunters known as rakshas. The next arrivals were the shepherds who arrived from the Kangra Valley and settled to take up agriculture. Some of the earliest inhabitants of the region are the naur or nar, which is a caste unique to the Kullu valley.
Only a few naur families are known to exist now. A naur family in the village Soyal near Haripur on the west bank of Manali was famous for the vast land they owned and their practice of having rakshas as their labourers.
Vashisht was named after rishi Vashisht, one of the seven Hindu sages. Legend has it that the crestfallen rishi Vashisht after learning that his children were killed by Vishwamitra tried to commit suicide. But the river refused to kill him. The river was therefore named as Vipasha which literally means ‘freedom from bondage’. It was later shortened to Beas River.
He began meditating and vowed to start his life anew. The Vashisht temple which exists even today is believed to be more than 4000 years old. Vashisht temple is built in a traditional style with intricate wood carvings. Hot springs, which are believed to have medicinal value, are very popular. There are separate bathing arrangements for men and women.
According to another legend Lakshman who paid a visit realized that the sage had to go for long walks to take bath. He shot an arrow into the ground and hot water began to gush out. There’s another temple, ancient stone temple known as Rama temple adjacent to the Vashisht temple. Vashisht village, considered an important place by the Hindus, is often associated with pilgrimage.
Vashisht village is 6 kms away from Manali on the banks of the Beas opposite Old Manali. It can also be reached from Manali by trekking (it may take an hour) or a short drive up a road by auto rickshaw. Most foreign tourists prefer staying here or at the Old Manali than the downtown Manali. Rich traditions and excellent cafes are integral for backpackers. Like Old Manali, Vashisht is crammed with tourists during peak seasons.
Cunning canineDon’t forget to have croissants or cakes from German Bakery located here. While enjoying your breakfast with awesome bread/cakes and tea here, your bread may be taken away on the sly!! No, you won’t be robbed of your meal by any hungry souls…
There are dogs around. So, be careful…
My bread was taken away by a cunning canine as I was savoring the breathtaking view around.
The serene village is sure to soothe weary souls. You will see here plenty of wayside shops that sell woolen clothes.
(To be continued)