The historic town of Mandi (800 m.) is built along the banks of the river Beas. It has long been an important commercial centre, and the sage Mandvya is said to have meditated here. This one time capital of the princely state of Mandi is a fast developing town that still retains much of its original charm and character. Today, it is a district head quarter.
Mandi is renowned for its 81 old stone temples and their enormous range of fine carving. The town also has the remains of old palaces and notable examples of `colonial' architecture. Mandi is the gateway to the Kullu valley and acts as the base for several exciting excursions.
How to get there
The nearest airport is at Bhuntar 59 km away. The broadguage railhead is at Pathankot, a distance of 210 km From Pathankkot the metre guage railway connnects Jogindernagar which is 55 km from Mandi. From Chandigarh one can drive directly to Mandi via Ropar and Bilaspur, the distance is 203 km - the drive takes around 5 hours. Luxury bases from Delhi and Shimla, and bound for Kulu-Manali go via Mandi.
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At a Glance
In winter, temperatures can hover around freezing point when heavy wollens are required. During summer, the climate is hot and cottons are recommended. Place of interest in and around Mandi
Bhootnath Temple: Practically synonymous with Mandi and located in its very heart, this is as old as the town itself and dates back to the 1520s. In March, the festival of Shivratri is a major event and the Bhootnath temple is its focus. For an entire week the town celebrates the arrival of hundreds of local deites on elaborately decorated palanquins.
Symakali Temple: Also called the temple of Tarna Devi, this is high on Tarna Hill which rises above the town. In the 17th century this was built by Raja Syama Sen after a particularly trying time when the goddess gave him success.
Other temples in Mandi town
Within the town is a veritable roll-call of shrines. Apart from the emotions they evoke, they also have a wealth of classical architecture and ornate sculpture. Many of these are devoted to Lord Shiva, at the Triloknath temple he is depicted as the lord of the three worlds, at aspects. At the Ardhanarisvara temple, Lord Shiva appears in a composite form with the right half as male and the left half as female - symbolising the male and female principles of cosmic evolution. There are several exquisite temples along the College Road, and the banks of the Beas are lined with many more. At the Gyarah Rudra temple, the deay the famous `Amarnath darshan' takes place, the temple is decorated to resemble the Amarnath cave.
The other places of interest within Mandi are the Rani Amrit Kaur Park, the Disctrict Library Building and the Empress Bridge.
Sundernagar (1175 m)
22 km from Mandi is this attractive town where the balancing reservoir of the Beas-Sutlej link canal is located. The road has the canal on one side and lush green fields on the other which makes driving along it a real pleasure. the Mahamaya temple is a top a hill.
Prashar Lake (2730 m)
40 km north of Mandi is this beautiful lake, with a three storeyed pagoda like temple dedicated to the sage Prashar.
On the border with Hamirpur, this fort was built by Raja Suraj Sen of Mandi in 1625.
Janjheli (2200 m)
67 km from Mandi this is a scenic place with thick forest and springs.
It is also the base of some excellent treks.
16 km from Mandi, an earth and rock fill dam is located here.
Shikari Devi (2850 m)
15 km from Janjheli there is an ancient temple here and some marvellous landscapes.
Shopping A variety of traditional handicrafts including silver jewellery and stone carvings can be purchased at Mandi.
Located on a mountain spur, an hour's drive from Mandi brings you to this dark jewel like lake. With water, woodland and high hills, it presents a variety of natural beauty and the spot is scared for Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs.
It was from here that the great Indian teacher and `tantric'. Padmasabhava left for Tibet. Known to the Tibetans as Guru Rimpoche, the Precious Master, it was under Padmasambahava's influence that Mahayana Buddhism spread over Tibet. There are islands of floating reed on Rewalsar Lake and the spirit of Padmasabhava is said to reside in them. It is here that the sage Lomas did penance in devotion to Lord Shiva, and the Sikh Guru Gobind Singh also resided here for one month.
The Sisu fair held in late February/early March, and the festival of Baisakhi are important events at Rewalsar.
How to get there
Rewalsar is 24 km by road from Mandi. Taxis and buses are available at Mandi.
In winter, the temperature can hover around freezing point when heavy wollens are required. During summer, the climate is mild and light woollens/cottons are recommended.
Places of interest in and around Rewalsar Monasteries
At opposite ends of the lake there are two Tibetan monasteries. The Bhutanese also have one.
This gurudwara was built in 1930 by Raja Joginder Sen of Mandi. It commemorates Guru Gobind Singh's visit, when he sought to evolve a common strategy with the hill rulers against the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb.
At Rewalsar there are three Hindu temples. These are dedicated to the sage Lomas, to Lord Krishna and to Lord Shiva.
The forest department maintains a small zoo at Rewalsar. Above Rewalsar, the 'Seven Lakes' are also of interest.
In 1925, the enterprising Raja Joginder Sen of Mandi created an elaborate hydel power scheme near the village of Sukrahatti - which was then renamed Jogindernagar (1220 m) after him. After tunnelling and piping the water over several kilometers from the river Uhl to Jogindernagar, the Shanan power house was built by a team of engineers headed by Col. Battye. Later, the HP State Electricity Board added another set of turbines at nearby Bassi.
Jogindernagar has everything for a quiet and relaxing holiday - and leaves options open for trekking, fishing, sightseeing, picnics and enjoyable drives in the area.
How to get there
Jogindernagar is the terminus of the narrow gauge rail track from Pathankot. It is 65 km by road from Kangra and 55 km from Mandi. The nearest airport are at Gaggal (Kangra), and from the one at Bhuntar near Kullu the distance is 110 km. Taxis and buses to Jogindernagar are available at all major stations.
In winter the temperature can hover just above freezing point when heavy woollens are required. During summer, the climate is mild and light woollen/cottons are ecommended.
Places of interest in and around Jogindernagar
This is a small but enchanting lake held sacred to 'Machendru Devta'.
Bassi Power House
This forms the second phase of the Jogindernagar power generation scheme. It is as attractive picnic spot.
16 km from Jogindernagar, this is a Tibetan settlement with a beautiful monastery.
23 km from Jogindernagar is this exquisite temple where Lord Shiva is worshipped as Vaidyanath - 'The Lord of Physicians'. The original temple was built in 804 A.D. Here king Ravana is said to have supplicated Lord Shiva for the boon of immortality.
Jhatingri (2130 m)
12 km from Jogindernagar is this enchanting spot atop a hill. Surrounded by a thick deodar forest, the ruins of the summer palace of the Mandi rulers is located here. And the vistas it unfolds are breath taking.
Barot (1830 m)
40 km by road from Jogindernagar, and 12 km by the haulage trolly, Barot packs an enormous range of out door activity. The reservoir of the power project is located here, and there is a trout breeding centre making it a wonderful place for angling. Across the river Uhl is the Nargu wild life sanctuary home to the ghoral, Himalayan black bear and a variety of pheasants.
Adventure activities and fishing
A variety of treks and hang and para-gliding are possible in this area. Barot is one of finest places for angling in Himachal Pradesh.
Editor: Romola Butalia   (c) India Travelogue. All rights reserved.