The Sarahan Experience – A Spiritual Inquest and Much More || By Vibha Malhotra (TOI - 31st May 2014)

If you happen to visit Sarahan in the Shimla district of Himachal, you will be surprised by how much the little town has to offer. We rode into the town on our way to Kinnaur, and even though the town isn’t exactly on the way, this was one detour we are immensely glad we took. Even though Sarahan gets its fair share of tourists, it manages to retain its rustic charm till date. Such is the uncontaminated air of this place that you always feel at home and at ease here.

You cannot miss the incredibly beautiful and the most majestic building presiding over the place – the Bhimakali Temple. The temple is said to have been built around 3,000 years ago, and as expected in case of such an ancient building, there are several legends associated with it and the mystical landscape that surrounds it. The Shivlingam of Shrikhand Mahadev and the nearby Bhimadwar is associated with the ancient travellers – the mighty Pandavs. The surrounding valleys still seem to echo the legendary love story of Usha, the daughter of Banasur − the king of the region, and Aniruddh, the son of Lord Krishn. The temple itself is dedicated to the Mother Goddess Bhimakali, the presiding deity of the rulers of the former Bushahr state.


Recently some of us were on Kinnaur Trip and there is place called Jeory on the way. Sarahan is approximately 30 kilometers from Jeory and it's a beautiful town located on hill-top with amazing views of snow covered hills of Kinnaur. Bheemakali temple of Sarahan is most popular place to visit and this Photo Journey shares some of the moments spent around Bheema Kali Temple.Bheema Kali Temple has a huge campus and different temples inside the campus. There are two main temples, out of which one is accessible to everyone during normal days.The Second one is opened on some special occasions and Devi only allows Raja Virbhadra Singh to open the door of that temple. Shri Bheema Kali Temple is located in Sarahan town of Himachal Pradesh in India which is dedicated to the mother goddess Bhimakali, presiding deity of the rulers of former Bushahr State. The temple is situated about 180 km from Shimla and is one of 51 Shakti Peethass. The temple complex has another three temples dedicated to Lord Raghunathji, Narsinghji and Patal Bhairva Ji (Lankra Veer) - the guardian deity.Architecture of Bheema Kali Temple is beautiful. Whole campus is built with Stone and wooden blocks. It seems some part of the campus has not even cement to fix the joints. Whole campus is very well maintained and there is enough security as well.Here is one of the doors of the Bheem Kali temple in Sarahan Town. It's made up of silver with beautiful carving. There is also some text written, mostly in Hindi and Tibbatian scripts. Most of the carved forms are different gods and linked through some old stories.Sarahan was the capital of rulers of former Bushahr State. Bushahr dynasty earlier used to control the state from Kamroo. The capital of state later was shifted to Sonitpur. Later Raja Ram Singh made Rampur as the capital. It is believed that the country of Kinnaur was the Kailash mentioned in Puranas, the abode of Shiva. With its capital at Sonitpur this former princely state was extended up to entire area of Kinnaur where for sometimes Lord Shiva disguised himself as Kirata. Today, the then Sonitpur is known as Sarahan. Banasura, the ardent devotee of Lord Siva, eldest among the one hundred sons of great ablative demon King Bali and the great grandson of Vishnu votary Prahlad, during the Puranic age was the ruler of this princely state.(Courtesy - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhimakali_Temple)According to a legend, the manifestation of the goddess is reported to the Daksha-Yajna incident when the ear of the Sati fell at this place and became a place of worship as a Pitha - Sthan. Presently in the form of a virgin the icon of this eternal goddess is consecrated at the top storey of the new building. Below that storey the goddess as Parvati, the daughter of Himalaya is enshrined as a divine consort of Lord SivaThere is a small market around Bheema Kali Temple and there are enough shops to have lunch or light snacks. Apart from that local caps can be bought from this fellow. He was very welcoming and offered good discounts for us :). We had asked for rates in Rampur Market, but he had better stuff and reasonable prices. There are many other shops in the town where some local stuff can be procured. On top of all that, most of the folks were really sweet to interact with.During our visit, we were looking for ladies wearing Dhaatu but couldn't gain the courage to ask anyone to get clicked by us. And just outside the Bheema Kali temple, this lady asked us to click one of her photograph and show her how we click. Probably she was noticing us clicking & reviewing photographs around the temple. We clicked few shots and showed to her. She shared some tips to improve and finally approved few of the shots. After final approval, she invited us to her hotel nearby but we couldn't go because it was time to head back as we had booked guest-house in Jeory.Here is a nearby sight, which is popularly known as Hawa-Ghar. This point has very clear view of Kinnar-Kailash Hills and place was quite windy. We spent around 30 minutes here to enjoy the breeze and take rest. This place is isolated form hustle bustle of the town. When we reached, there was only one person sitting here. Probably this place was least used by localites, as everyone has Hawa-ghar around their own houses :)Whole place was surrounded by Pine or Deodar Forests and smell was awesome in the middle of these forests. It was really an amazing experience to roam around Bheema Kali Temple and Sarahan Town. Meeting different people, visiting one of the amazing temples in this region, Hawa Ghar, a huge house of old kingdom etc.The town Sarahan is known as the gateway of Kinnaur. Down below at a distance of 7 km from Sarahan is the River Satluj. Sarahan is identified with the then Sonitpur mentioned in Puranas.Before entering into the main temple, everyone needs to lock mobiles, wallets or anything else which is made of leather and then wear a cap. Above photograph shows Aneesh wearing the holy cap and standing on right side of lockers everyone gets to keep everything safe.  
The architecture of the temple follows what is loosely classified as the “Sutlej Valley style”, with pent and gable roofs and a main shikhar that is styled like a pagoda. The stone and wood structure of the temple looks completely at home amongst the lush green surroundings. Such is the charm of this place that upon visiting the temple, one finds it easy to believe in miracles. Several sources claim that in the early twentieth century, an earthquake caused the temple to tilt slightly. However, a subsequent earthquake corrected this tilt to some extent. Today, at least to a layman’s eyes, the tilt is barely noticeable.

Recently some of us were on Kinnaur Trip and there is place called Jeory on the way. Sarahan is approximately 30 kilometers from Jeory and it's a beautiful town located on hill-top with amazing views of snow covered hills of Kinnaur. Bheemakali temple of Sarahan is most popular place to visit and this Photo Journey shares some of the moments spent around Bheema Kali Temple.Bheema Kali Temple has a huge campus and different temples inside the campus. There are two main temples, out of which one is accessible to everyone during normal days.The Second one is opened on some special occasions and Devi only allows Raja Virbhadra Singh to open the door of that temple. Shri Bheema Kali Temple is located in Sarahan town of Himachal Pradesh in India which is dedicated to the mother goddess Bhimakali, presiding deity of the rulers of former Bushahr State. The temple is situated about 180 km from Shimla and is one of 51 Shakti Peethass. The temple complex has another three temples dedicated to Lord Raghunathji, Narsinghji and Patal Bhairva Ji (Lankra Veer) - the guardian deity.Architecture of Bheema Kali Temple is beautiful. Whole campus is built with Stone and wooden blocks. It seems some part of the campus has not even cement to fix the joints. Whole campus is very well maintained and there is enough security as well.Here is one of the doors of the Bheem Kali temple in Sarahan Town. It's made up of silver with beautiful carving. There is also some text written, mostly in Hindi and Tibbatian scripts. Most of the carved forms are different gods and linked through some old stories.Sarahan was the capital of rulers of former Bushahr State. Bushahr dynasty earlier used to control the state from Kamroo. The capital of state later was shifted to Sonitpur. Later Raja Ram Singh made Rampur as the capital. It is believed that the country of Kinnaur was the Kailash mentioned in Puranas, the abode of Shiva. With its capital at Sonitpur this former princely state was extended up to entire area of Kinnaur where for sometimes Lord Shiva disguised himself as Kirata. Today, the then Sonitpur is known as Sarahan. Banasura, the ardent devotee of Lord Siva, eldest among the one hundred sons of great ablative demon King Bali and the great grandson of Vishnu votary Prahlad, during the Puranic age was the ruler of this princely state.(Courtesy - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhimakali_Temple)According to a legend, the manifestation of the goddess is reported to the Daksha-Yajna incident when the ear of the Sati fell at this place and became a place of worship as a Pitha - Sthan. Presently in the form of a virgin the icon of this eternal goddess is consecrated at the top storey of the new building. Below that storey the goddess as Parvati, the daughter of Himalaya is enshrined as a divine consort of Lord SivaThere is a small market around Bheema Kali Temple and there are enough shops to have lunch or light snacks. Apart from that local caps can be bought from this fellow. He was very welcoming and offered good discounts for us :). We had asked for rates in Rampur Market, but he had better stuff and reasonable prices. There are many other shops in the town where some local stuff can be procured. On top of all that, most of the folks were really sweet to interact with.During our visit, we were looking for ladies wearing Dhaatu but couldn't gain the courage to ask anyone to get clicked by us. And just outside the Bheema Kali temple, this lady asked us to click one of her photograph and show her how we click. Probably she was noticing us clicking & reviewing photographs around the temple. We clicked few shots and showed to her. She shared some tips to improve and finally approved few of the shots. After final approval, she invited us to her hotel nearby but we couldn't go because it was time to head back as we had booked guest-house in Jeory.Here is a nearby sight, which is popularly known as Hawa-Ghar. This point has very clear view of Kinnar-Kailash Hills and place was quite windy. We spent around 30 minutes here to enjoy the breeze and take rest. This place is isolated form hustle bustle of the town. When we reached, there was only one person sitting here. Probably this place was least used by localites, as everyone has Hawa-ghar around their own houses :)Whole place was surrounded by Pine or Deodar Forests and smell was awesome in the middle of these forests. It was really an amazing experience to roam around Bheema Kali Temple and Sarahan Town. Meeting different people, visiting one of the amazing temples in this region, Hawa Ghar, a huge house of old kingdom etc.The town Sarahan is known as the gateway of Kinnaur. Down below at a distance of 7 km from Sarahan is the River Satluj. Sarahan is identified with the then Sonitpur mentioned in Puranas.Before entering into the main temple, everyone needs to lock mobiles, wallets or anything else which is made of leather and then wear a cap. Above photograph shows Aneesh wearing the holy cap and standing on right side of lockers everyone gets to keep everything safe.

The temple is one of the very few places where one feels close to God and nature and where one can reach out and grasp the Truth. The perfect combination of peace and solitude is very rare, and makes it possible for travellers to grab those few minutes that have the power to completely rejuvenate the soul.

And once you have thoroughly explored the temple, the Palace of the Raja of the Bushahr State is just around the corner. Built on 1917 and surviving the rampant historical shift around it, this building stands frozen in time. A traveller with some time to spare can take a walk through the Palace’s sprawling lawns and admire the buildings of the palace up close.

When you have had your fill with history you can head out and visit one of the many apple orchards that dot the area. If you happen to visit in late summer you can treat your senses to the delicious fragrance of apples preparing themselves for harvest.

Recently some of us were on Kinnaur Trip and there is place called Jeory on the way. Sarahan is approximately 30 kilometers from Jeory and it's a beautiful town located on hill-top with amazing views of snow covered hills of Kinnaur. Bheemakali temple of Sarahan is most popular place to visit and this Photo Journey shares some of the moments spent around Bheema Kali Temple.Bheema Kali Temple has a huge campus and different temples inside the campus. There are two main temples, out of which one is accessible to everyone during normal days.The Second one is opened on some special occasions and Devi only allows Raja Virbhadra Singh to open the door of that temple. Shri Bheema Kali Temple is located in Sarahan town of Himachal Pradesh in India which is dedicated to the mother goddess Bhimakali, presiding deity of the rulers of former Bushahr State. The temple is situated about 180 km from Shimla and is one of 51 Shakti Peethass. The temple complex has another three temples dedicated to Lord Raghunathji, Narsinghji and Patal Bhairva Ji (Lankra Veer) - the guardian deity.Architecture of Bheema Kali Temple is beautiful. Whole campus is built with Stone and wooden blocks. It seems some part of the campus has not even cement to fix the joints. Whole campus is very well maintained and there is enough security as well.Here is one of the doors of the Bheem Kali temple in Sarahan Town. It's made up of silver with beautiful carving. There is also some text written, mostly in Hindi and Tibbatian scripts. Most of the carved forms are different gods and linked through some old stories.Sarahan was the capital of rulers of former Bushahr State. Bushahr dynasty earlier used to control the state from Kamroo. The capital of state later was shifted to Sonitpur. Later Raja Ram Singh made Rampur as the capital. It is believed that the country of Kinnaur was the Kailash mentioned in Puranas, the abode of Shiva. With its capital at Sonitpur this former princely state was extended up to entire area of Kinnaur where for sometimes Lord Shiva disguised himself as Kirata. Today, the then Sonitpur is known as Sarahan. Banasura, the ardent devotee of Lord Siva, eldest among the one hundred sons of great ablative demon King Bali and the great grandson of Vishnu votary Prahlad, during the Puranic age was the ruler of this princely state.(Courtesy - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhimakali_Temple)According to a legend, the manifestation of the goddess is reported to the Daksha-Yajna incident when the ear of the Sati fell at this place and became a place of worship as a Pitha - Sthan. Presently in the form of a virgin the icon of this eternal goddess is consecrated at the top storey of the new building. Below that storey the goddess as Parvati, the daughter of Himalaya is enshrined as a divine consort of Lord SivaThere is a small market around Bheema Kali Temple and there are enough shops to have lunch or light snacks. Apart from that local caps can be bought from this fellow. He was very welcoming and offered good discounts for us :). We had asked for rates in Rampur Market, but he had better stuff and reasonable prices. There are many other shops in the town where some local stuff can be procured. On top of all that, most of the folks were really sweet to interact with.During our visit, we were looking for ladies wearing Dhaatu but couldn't gain the courage to ask anyone to get clicked by us. And just outside the Bheema Kali temple, this lady asked us to click one of her photograph and show her how we click. Probably she was noticing us clicking & reviewing photographs around the temple. We clicked few shots and showed to her. She shared some tips to improve and finally approved few of the shots. After final approval, she invited us to her hotel nearby but we couldn't go because it was time to head back as we had booked guest-house in Jeory.Here is a nearby sight, which is popularly known as Hawa-Ghar. This point has very clear view of Kinnar-Kailash Hills and place was quite windy. We spent around 30 minutes here to enjoy the breeze and take rest. This place is isolated form hustle bustle of the town. When we reached, there was only one person sitting here. Probably this place was least used by localites, as everyone has Hawa-ghar around their own houses :)Whole place was surrounded by Pine or Deodar Forests and smell was awesome in the middle of these forests. It was really an amazing experience to roam around Bheema Kali Temple and Sarahan Town. Meeting different people, visiting one of the amazing temples in this region, Hawa Ghar, a huge house of old kingdom etc.The town Sarahan is known as the gateway of Kinnaur. Down below at a distance of 7 km from Sarahan is the River Satluj. Sarahan is identified with the then Sonitpur mentioned in Puranas.Before entering into the main temple, everyone needs to lock mobiles, wallets or anything else which is made of leather and then wear a cap. Above photograph shows Aneesh wearing the holy cap and standing on right side of lockers everyone gets to keep everything safe.


And this is not all that the little town of Sarahan has to offer. Located barely half-a-kilometre from the town is the Sarahan Bird Sanctuary. You can stroll down to this well-known paradise for birds and watch two of the most incredible birds of Himachal Pradesh – Monal and Tragopan. Not only do these birds reside here, the facility also serves as a breeding ground for them.

Recently some of us were on Kinnaur Trip and there is place called Jeory on the way. Sarahan is approximately 30 kilometers from Jeory and it's a beautiful town located on hill-top with amazing views of snow covered hills of Kinnaur. Bheemakali temple of Sarahan is most popular place to visit and this Photo Journey shares some of the moments spent around Bheema Kali Temple.Bheema Kali Temple has a huge campus and different temples inside the campus. There are two main temples, out of which one is accessible to everyone during normal days.The Second one is opened on some special occasions and Devi only allows Raja Virbhadra Singh to open the door of that temple. Shri Bheema Kali Temple is located in Sarahan town of Himachal Pradesh in India which is dedicated to the mother goddess Bhimakali, presiding deity of the rulers of former Bushahr State. The temple is situated about 180 km from Shimla and is one of 51 Shakti Peethass. The temple complex has another three temples dedicated to Lord Raghunathji, Narsinghji and Patal Bhairva Ji (Lankra Veer) - the guardian deity.Architecture of Bheema Kali Temple is beautiful. Whole campus is built with Stone and wooden blocks. It seems some part of the campus has not even cement to fix the joints. Whole campus is very well maintained and there is enough security as well.Here is one of the doors of the Bheem Kali temple in Sarahan Town. It's made up of silver with beautiful carving. There is also some text written, mostly in Hindi and Tibbatian scripts. Most of the carved forms are different gods and linked through some old stories.Sarahan was the capital of rulers of former Bushahr State. Bushahr dynasty earlier used to control the state from Kamroo. The capital of state later was shifted to Sonitpur. Later Raja Ram Singh made Rampur as the capital. It is believed that the country of Kinnaur was the Kailash mentioned in Puranas, the abode of Shiva. With its capital at Sonitpur this former princely state was extended up to entire area of Kinnaur where for sometimes Lord Shiva disguised himself as Kirata. Today, the then Sonitpur is known as Sarahan. Banasura, the ardent devotee of Lord Siva, eldest among the one hundred sons of great ablative demon King Bali and the great grandson of Vishnu votary Prahlad, during the Puranic age was the ruler of this princely state.(Courtesy - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhimakali_Temple)According to a legend, the manifestation of the goddess is reported to the Daksha-Yajna incident when the ear of the Sati fell at this place and became a place of worship as a Pitha - Sthan. Presently in the form of a virgin the icon of this eternal goddess is consecrated at the top storey of the new building. Below that storey the goddess as Parvati, the daughter of Himalaya is enshrined as a divine consort of Lord SivaThere is a small market around Bheema Kali Temple and there are enough shops to have lunch or light snacks. Apart from that local caps can be bought from this fellow. He was very welcoming and offered good discounts for us :). We had asked for rates in Rampur Market, but he had better stuff and reasonable prices. There are many other shops in the town where some local stuff can be procured. On top of all that, most of the folks were really sweet to interact with.During our visit, we were looking for ladies wearing Dhaatu but couldn't gain the courage to ask anyone to get clicked by us. And just outside the Bheema Kali temple, this lady asked us to click one of her photograph and show her how we click. Probably she was noticing us clicking & reviewing photographs around the temple. We clicked few shots and showed to her. She shared some tips to improve and finally approved few of the shots. After final approval, she invited us to her hotel nearby but we couldn't go because it was time to head back as we had booked guest-house in Jeory.Here is a nearby sight, which is popularly known as Hawa-Ghar. This point has very clear view of Kinnar-Kailash Hills and place was quite windy. We spent around 30 minutes here to enjoy the breeze and take rest. This place is isolated form hustle bustle of the town. When we reached, there was only one person sitting here. Probably this place was least used by localites, as everyone has Hawa-ghar around their own houses :)Whole place was surrounded by Pine or Deodar Forests and smell was awesome in the middle of these forests. It was really an amazing experience to roam around Bheema Kali Temple and Sarahan Town. Meeting different people, visiting one of the amazing temples in this region, Hawa Ghar, a huge house of old kingdom etc.The town Sarahan is known as the gateway of Kinnaur. Down below at a distance of 7 km from Sarahan is the River Satluj. Sarahan is identified with the then Sonitpur mentioned in Puranas.Before entering into the main temple, everyone needs to lock mobiles, wallets or anything else which is made of leather and then wear a cap. Above photograph shows Aneesh wearing the holy cap and standing on right side of lockers everyone gets to keep everything safe.

And if you are social and seek company, you can always take a walk through the sleepy lanes of Sarahan and speak to the charming shopkeepers, and enjoy some simple yet sumptuous local food, served with no pretentions but lots of love. You can also shop for good-quality local goods without ever worrying about being charged an unfair price.



With touching simplicity and mesmerizing landscapes, the town tends to convince you that an encounter with divinity is just around the corner. You need to shed your cynicism and ego, and surrender yourself completely to nature. And when you are able to do so, you can simply close your eyes to feel the comforting warmth embracing you and slowly you will be lulled into that elusive meditative trance that has been so difficult to achieve elsewhere.

1 comment:

thetalesofatraveler.com said...

Amazing pics and the place is so beautiful !!

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