In the part 1 of the story of our Manimahesh Yatra 2016, we had reached at the Jot, where we slept at night. In the morning we clicked some photographs of the ridge, and the surrounding peaks at Chamba Jot. Sky was still dark with the clouds. At 8:00 AM, the tea shop was open, and even a green vegetable shop was open too. But, as we had not even brushed our teeth, so decided to first reach for a spot where we could refresh ourselves.
Jot to BharmourAshu bhai sat on the driver's seat and soon the car started running down the Jot towards Chamba. I picked up my Guitar and together we sang few of the Ashok Kumar's songs, such as 'O Mere Dil Ke Chain, chain aaye mere dil ko dua kijiye.'
Road from Jot to Chamba mostly has a descending gradient, and steep curves. Still we enjoyed the road because of the beautiful mountains and the terraced green fields, on which corn plants were still standing. Deodar trees could easily be spotted on the slopes, though they were not clustered together to make the dense forests like those along Rajgundha to Bir-Biling trek or along the trek to Shringa Rishi temple and Chehni Kothi in Banjar.
There was a rivulet that followed us tediously and finally would merge with Ravi in Chamba. We crossed the Ravi at Chamba at around 9:45 AM, and then the road ran parallel with Ravi up till Bharmour.
The reservoirs' water of the Chamera stage I and Chamera stage II almost touched the road. I couldn't understand why these river projects were named in reverse order. The project at the downstream is given stage I, while at the higher stages its III and II.
Generally stage projects with the same name are numbered as stage I, II and III, starting from the upstream. Such as the river projects Uhl stage I, II and III on river Uhl are numbered with stage I at the higher elevation of the river. The river water was silty, and roaring.
After reaching Bharmour, first task was to find the parking for the car, as the road up to the Bharmani Devi temple was slippery and police on duty suggested not to take car up there.
Bharmour to Bharmani Devi temple
It is said that without taking the bath in the cold water at the Bharmari Devi temple the Manimahesh yatra remains incomplete. Due to the surge of the pilgrims in a large number, we couldn't find the place to park the car in one kilometer of the stretch along the road earlier to the Bharmour market. Then we first reached the market along the road, and then we started ascending uphill towards Bharmani Devi temple.
Instead of taking the motor-able road which would be more than 5 kilometers of length, we took a left diversion along a steep path. We witnessed the apple trees loaded with the green and reddish apple fruits, though not completely ripe. They followed us along half of the trek. When the apple orchards line finished, we spotted the motorable road on the upper reaches of the mountain face. We climbed the terraced uncultivated fields and spotted a woman near to a fresh water pipe.
First obvious question we asked her was about the remaining distance up to Bharmani devi, which she told to be only about 1.5 kilometers. I and Ashu started to talk in Mandyali(local language of district Mandi), because its not much different from the Chambyali (local language of Chamba district). Along with her a very old woman and two others of mid fourtees joined us in the chit chat.
|With Bharmani Devis of Bharmour, Manimahesh Yatra 2016|
We sat on one of those grassy fields and within half an hour we were comfortable enough to sing the "Kunju and Chanchlo" - a very famous Chambyali song. We wanted to listen it from them, because lyrically we were weak, but they only helped us with the lyrics.
It was a wonderful experience to have introduction with them, and being elders they advised us to remain away from drugs and alcohol. It is very common to spot the people coming from outside with smoke and drugs. They knew it very well. They offered one apple for each four of us, and if help was necessary invited us to their home. We felt as if we met the real Bharmani Devi. We touched their feet and started along the remaining trek.
Last part of the trek is very steep, but we reached Bharmani Devi temple at around 3:00 PM. It was a small place with a large gathering of the pilgrims. Located on the grassy meadow at the base of the mountain peaks covered with the Deodar trees, it carried a spiritual aura. The other mountain peaks on that side of the river Ravi looked of higher elevations.
|Pilgrims ready to take the dip into the bath at Bharmani Devi Temple, Bharmour, Chamba, Manimahesh Yatra 2016|
Though with limited space but separate bathing facilities were provided to the ladies. A pond of about 4 m * 2m* 1.5 m size looked small for the number of the gents crowded there. One by one we took dips into that ice cold water and then we tailed along a long line to take the blessings of the Bharmani Devi.
It was a stone carved sculpture of Bharmani Devi put under the open sky, that people were lined up to touch. It took about half an hour for our turn. As nothing had entered our stomachs except the small apple that the women had offered us in the afternoon, we went to the Langar. It was organised by the Devbhumi Langar committee Samela, Hamirpur. Ashu's father was with this committee and soon we met him.
|Ashu with his Father and Govida, Bharmani Devi, Bharmour, Chamba, Manimahesh Yatra 2016|
The meal was the average chawal, dal and curry, but we knew that the efforts to organise such free food service for the pilgrims at such heights would be extra-ordinary. Along with his father, there were about five other persons who were involved in this Langar. There were 4-5 other Langars from different places with different dishes. At around 4:15 PM, we left Bharmani Devi and descended back to Bharmour. Plan was to reach Hadsar in car and then reach Dhancho on our feet.
to be contd in part 3...