Manikaran (Hindi: मणिकर्ण) is located in the Parvati Valley between the rivers Beas and Parvati, northeast of Bhuntar in the Kullu District of Himachal Pradesh. It is at an altitude of 1760 m and is located about 45 km from Kullu.
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Manikaran is a pilgrimage centre for Hindus and Sikhs. Both Hindi and Sikhs have their own belifes. Manikaran is famous for many temples and a gurudwara. There are temples of Lord Rama, Krishna, and Vishnu. The area is well-known for its hot springs and its beautiful landscape.
According to legend, when Lord Shiva and his consort Parvati were walking in the valley, Parvati dropped one of her earrings. The jewel was seized by Shesha, the serpent deity, who then disappeared into the earth with it. Shesha only surrendered the jewel when Shiva performed the cosmic dance, the Tandava and shot the jewel up through the water. Apparently, jewels continued to be thrown up in the waters at Manikaran until the earthquake of 1905.
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According to sikhs, during third Udasi, Guru Nanak Dev ji came to this place in 15 Asu 1574 Bikrami with his disciples Bhai Bala & Bhai Mardana.Sri Guru Nanak Dev ji was with his Sikhs in the Himalaya mountains of India. His sikhs were hungry and there was no food. Guru Nanak sent his good Friend Bhai Mardana to collect food for langar (the Community Kitchen). Many people donated rice and flour(atta) to make parsadas (bread). The one problem was that there was no fire to cook the food. Guru Nanak than lifted a rock and a hot spring(hot water) appeared. The sikhs were able to make rice and beans. Bhai Mardana was having trouble making Chapatis because they kept sinking. Bhai Mardana said I am going to donate my life in the name of God. The parsada amazingly floated. Guru Nanak Dev Ji said that anyone who donates his life in the name of God, All his(or her) drowned items float. This was a miracle.
The legend of Manikaran states that while roaming around, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, once chanced upon a place that was surrounded by mountains and was lush green. Enamoured by the beauty of the place, they decided to spend some time there. It is believed that they actually spent eleven hundred years here.
During their stay here, Goddess Parvati lost her mani in the waters of a stream. Upset over the loss, she asked Shiva to retrieve it. Lord Shiva commanded his attendant to find out the mani for Parvati, however, when they failed, he was extremely angry. He opened his third eye, a tremendously inauspicious event which led to disturbances in the universe. An appeal was made before the serpent god, Sheshnag, to pacify Lord Shiva. Sheshnag hissed thereby giving rise to a flow of boiling water. The water spread over the entire area resulting in the emergence of precious stones of the type Goddess Parvati had lost. Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati were happy at the outcome.
Manikaran is an extremely sacred place for the Sikh population of the country since it is believed that Guru Nanak Dev paid a visit here. The record of this can be found in the Janam Sakhi or the Twarikh Guru Khalsa (by Giani Gian). There is a mention that along with his disciple Bhai Mardana, Guru Nanak came down to this place after visiting Kalanaur, Gurdaspur, Dasuya, Triloknath, Palampur, Kangra, Mandi, Chamba and Kulu and Bijli Mahadev. He was also accompanied by five of his followers or ‘piaras’.
Lord Ramchandra Temple at ManiKaran
This is perhaps the most important temple of Manikaran. The temple was constructed by Raja Jagat Singh in the 17th century. Though there is no historical evidence backing, still the idol of Shri Ram installed here is believed to have been brought straight from Ayodhya. An idol of Rama’s younger brother, Laksmana was also supposed to be there, however, it has now nowhere to be seen. An idol of Goddess Sita accompanies that of Lord Rama. The temple was renovated by Raja Dilip Singh in the year 1889. Though the history of the temple is inscribed in a stone of walls, yet nothing is visible. Today, the temple is been looked after by a trust. There are three halls and forty rooms in the temple complex, specially meant for the visiting devotees. A lungar is organised to distribute food to the devotees.
Temple of Lord Shiva at Manikaran
This temple is hugely revered as it belongs to Lord Shiva. However, an earthquake in the 1905 caused a bit of damage to the temple and it got slightly tilted. The importance of Manikaran is also judged from the fact that devtas of Kullu valley pay regular visit to this place on specified date.