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Manimahesh Lake, Chamba Overview

Manimahesh Lake (also known as Dal Lake) is situated in the Pir Panjal Range of the Himalayas, in the Bharmour subdivision of Chamba district of Himachal Pradesh. Nestled at an elevation of 4,080 meters, it is considered only second in significance to the Lake Mansarovar in Tibet. Manimahesh literally means "Shiva's jewels". According to a local legend, on a full moon night, one can see the reflection of this jewel in the magnificent lake.

Most of the year, it remains closed due to the snow. To reach the lake, one has to trek a distance of 13 km through enchanting mountains and greenery. Shaped like a saucer, the Lake is divided into two main parts - the larger part is the Shiv Katori (the bathing place of Lord Shiva), and the lower part is called Gauri Kund (the bathing place for Goddess Parvati).

The mighty Lake is situated in proximity to the virgin peak of Manimahesh Kailash Parbat, which is considered to be the holy abode of Lord Shiva. It is said that he created both the landforms as his marital home with Goddess Parvati, and he is believed to be residing here still. There is even a marble image dedicated to the Lord in the periphery that is also called Chaumukha.

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Legend of Manimahesh Lake

There are many different legends associated with the origins of Manimahesh Lake. One of the most popular amongst them says that Lord Shiva created the lake after he married Goddess Parvati. It is also believed that the avalanches and blizzards that occur in the region are caused due to Shiva's displeasure. Legends also mention the lake as the sight of Shiva's penance.

Another popular belief is that Gaddi (shepherd) tribe of the region adopted Shiva as their deity and returning the favor the Lord gifted them with their famous Chuhali topi (pointed cap). The chhaliya topi is worn by the members of the tribe with their other dress of chola (coat) and dora (a long black cord about 10–15 m long). They started calling the land as "Shiv bhumi" (the land of Shiva) and declared themselves the truest devotees.

Mythology also considers the land as the abode of the three prime Lords of Hindu; Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh. The lake being Shiva's Heaven, a Dhancho waterfall on the way as Vishnu's and the mound overlooking Bharmour city is said to be Brahma's heaven. Shiva resides in his paradise for 6 months of the years and afterwards handing over the reign to Vishnu for the rest part of the year. The day of this spiritual exchange falls on Janmashtami (Lord Krishna's birthday) and the day when Shiva returns to Manimahesh, is celebrated as Shivaratri.

How To Reach Manimahesh Lake

Manimahesh can be approached by three routes;

1. Visitors can arrive from Lahaul and Spiti via Kutti pass.
2. Another route is to take the Karwarsi pass or Jalsu pass via Tyari village, near Holi in Bharmour from Kangra and Mandi.
3. The easiest and most convenient way to reach the place is by Bharmour?Hadsar-Manimahesh route which involves a 13 km trek from Hadsar village to the Manimahesh Lake. It takes two days travel time by this route (including an overnight stay at Dhancho). The path of the trek is well maintained, picturesque and is guaranteed to give an amazing experience.

There are buses, private taxi and shared taxi available for all the above routes. You can even take a helicopter from Bharmour to Hadsar.

Helicopter Ride to Manimahesh Lake

There is no better way absorb the gorgeous landscape of the Manimahesh lake than a helicopter ride. You can make your reservations for the ride from either Bharmour or Chama. The helicopter reaches up to Gauri Kund, and from there you have to take a 1 km hike, offer your prayers to the Lord, melt into the scenic beauty and then take the return flight to Bharmour/Chamba.

The return trip will cost INR 8,600 per passenger from Bharmour and INR 14,500 per passenger from Chamba.

Trek to Manimahesh Kailash

If the mountain lovers and trekkers are to be believed, the trek to the majestic Manimahesh is one of the most beautiful treks in Himachal Pradesh. The most popular and easiest trek begins from a small town of Hadsar. A well-marked mule trail connects the town from Manimahesh and starts near the Buddhil nullah and Manimahesh nullah intersection. Some temples and a huge gate mark the beginning of the track.

The first few kilometres is a modest climb but after that, the path becomes like a zigzag towards the first Mani Mahesh stream crossing. After trekking for another 1km, you will reach Dhancho. This place is perched at an altitude of 2,280 meters above sea level. From Dhancho, the trek proceeds through the valley of flowers and medicinal herbs to Sundarsi.

From Sundarsi, there are two trekking routes available. The first and more convenient one choice is a zig zag path over a moraine straight on to Gaurikund. The other and slightly more difficult one reaches Gaurikund via "Bhairav Ghati". If you take the first route from Gaurikund, you cross to the Mani Mahesh nullah over a metal girder bridge. The gradient finally eases out and  your destination is 1.5 kilometre from here.

The trek can be completed in one day, or you can stay overnight at Dhancho. Tented accommodation and kitchen for food are available for the stay. It is also a relatively easier trek, so no need to advance trekking gear. In fact, the pilgrims complete the trek barefooted.

Pilgrimage to Manimahesh Lake

Every year during the Hindu month of Bhadon, the sacred Manimahesh Lake is visited by thousands of pilgrims from all over the world. The yatra of jatra starts continues from Janmashtami to Radhastami (15 days period) corresponding to the Gregorian month of August or September. The Pilgrims take this holy trek barefooted, covering a distance of almost 14 km. The yatra is heralded by a procession that is locally known as "holy chhari" (the walking stick carried by the pilgrims). The colourful and blissful procession is carried on while singing praises and hymns for pleasing the Lord. Transportation and medical facilities are also available for them.

The trek starts from Laxmi Narayan temple and the Dashnami Akhara in Chamba. After the procession reaches its destination, the pilgrims take a holy dip in the lake and circumambulate around it three times to take blessings from the Lord. The women devotees dip in the GauriKund and the men in the Shiv Katori. The pilgrimage and the yatra have been recognized as a fair by the state government and Himachal Pradesh tourism administration.

Best Time To Visit Manimahesh Lake

You can visit the Manimahesh Lake at any time during April to mid-November. It remains frozen during the rest of the year.

Tips For Visiting Manimahesh Lake

1. Visiting the Lake during the yatra season is bliss. However, beware of the immense crowd of fellow devotees.
2. Take warm clothes, water and food. There are no eateries available near the lake (except during the yatra season).
3. Carry all the required supplements for the trek. The trekking terrain can be hard, but it also provides an amazing experience.
4. Never wander alone during the trek. Stick with your trekking guide and fellow trekkers.
5. Do not walk fast while trekking down.
6. The trek is very aesthetic, so do not forget to charge your camera fully.
7. Camp under the stars near the lake. It is guaranteed to be an out-of-this-world experience.
8. Due to its remote location, there are some connectivity issues in the region. Even the best of the networks have spotty and unreliable coverage.

Water & Scenic Beauty of Manimahesh Lake

The glacial Manimahesh lake has its sources in the melted snow water from nearby peaks. Shiny snow surrounds prickly dry bushes. As the ice begins to melt by the end of June, it breaks into numerous small streams. The streams, together with green hills and bountiful of flowers give the valley remarkable scenic beauty. The reflection of snow-capped peaks is seen in clean, unpolluted waters. The air around is icy and the environment is pure and pious, filled with prayers of the pilgrims and blessing of the Lord.

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Have a Question on Manimahesh Lake?

Q. If anyone can guide and advise for manimahesh in first week of june for four people?


3 years ago
It is advisable to go to Manimahesh Lake through a legitimate trekking group/ tour operator. During June, the weather is quite pleasant at the lake making it a good time to visit. You can check out t (Read More)he following link for stay options close to the lake: