|Grazing in Highlands
Places where Gaddis Live: Tourist Information
Their homeland is Gadheran, Bramour tehsil, in the Chamba district.
It comprises the valleys of the upper Ravi and its tributary the Budil which form a V meeting at Kharamukh just below Bramour. These two rivers here run more or less east-west and divide the Dholadhar range to the south from the Pir Pinjal to the north. Karamukh, the lowest point, is 4,500 ft., the high peaks to the north over 19,000 ft. and the valley sides and high alps are precipitous and inaccessible. The only road into Gadheran is from Chamba, 50 km of a narrow road. The country is surmounted by Mount Kailash. 18,500 ft., the seat of Lord shiva and his consort Parvati. Gaddis are staunch Shaivites and wherever they may wander, feel an unusually strong cultural and religious involvement with their homeland, also referred to as Shivbhumi, the land of Shiva.
During the last hundred years or so many Gaddis have bought land and built houses on the southern slopes of the Dholadhar- the northern edge of Kangra valley but whether or not they still have land or relations in Bramour tehsil, they consider themselves as belonging to Gadheran.
» Bharmour Today - Photos
This ancient capital of Chamba, the location of the Chaurasi or the 84-temple campus, and more importantly, the land of Shiva, known locally as Shivbhoomi. The area is semi-developed, remote, and houses three of the Himalayan ranges-the Dhauladhars, the Pir Panjals, and the Zanskars. Three major rivers-the Ravi, the Beas, and the Chenab-run through the area, the. Ravi draining most of Chamba. The landscape is characterized by snowcapped mountains, steep, narrow valleys, numerous crisscrossing streams, waterfalls and rivers, dense forests of pine, oak, and deodar (cedar), and heavily terraced land.
The path to Bharmour, though in hindsight quite treacherous, and is pure adventure. On one side towered the rocky Dhauladhars, and on the other a deep ravine through which the roaring Ravi flowed furiously. At times on the way, one will see herds of sheep and goats making their way up to the highlands.
According to local folklore, Bharmour used to be the garden of the goddess Brahmani Devi. One day, her son's pet bird was killed by a local peasant. The boy, a bit too attached to his pet, died from grief. Brahmani, unable to live without her son, buried herself alive, and soon the trio began to haunt the local villagers. In order to appease the dead, the villagers beatified Brahmani and erected a temple at the site of her residence. Consequently, the entire area came to be called Brahmpura, or "the residence of Brahmani". Bharmour is known for its Chaurasi (84) temple complex and the annual Manimahesh pilgrimage. Legend has it that on his way to Manimahesh (Shiva's abode-the Mount Kailash), Lord Shiva stopped by Brahmpura along with his 84 sidhas, who promptly set up camp and lit fires. Brahmani Devi was enraged by such desecration of her territory, and ordered Shiva to move on. After Shiva placated her, Brahmani allowed them to remain. The 84 sidhas, enamored with the place, transformed themselves into 84 lingas and took their residence in the Chaurasi (84) temple complex. Shiva granted Brahmani a boon stating that all pilgrims to Manimahesh would be expected to bathe in her pool as a gesture of their respect before they could pay homage to Shiva at Manimahesh.
Today, Bharmour is the land of the Gaddis who are known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle and rugged beauty. In the past, Bharmour used to be cut off from the rest of the world, and in the winters, the Gaddis used to leave these highlands for warmer climes. To this day, though many of the Gaddis have made their mountain residences permanent, the shepherds still travel up and down to access grazing lands for their sheep and goats.
Enveloped within the high mountain ranges, the original capital of Chamba district, Bharmour , is a fascinating little town. Mainly popular for it’s several ancient temples and monuments that reflect the town’s glorious past. It is also the base for the famed Manimahesh Yatra and for various marvelous treks in the region. Known as 'Brahmpur' in the 6th century, it was the seat of power of Chamba State for some 400 years till AD 920, all the temples present in Bharmour stand on a level area, which is called the Chaurasi after the 84 Siddhas, who are believed to have meditated in Bharmour over 1,000 years ago. These Siddhas hailed from Kurukshetra and visited Manimahesh. The oldest temples in the complex are those of Lakshna Devi and Ganesh. Both these temples are made in the hill style with gable roofs and rubble masonry. The tallest temple in the whole complex is of Manimahesh, built in shikhara style of architecture. The temple has a Shiva Lingam on a raised platform. The other temple in shikhara style is of Nar Singh. Lord Vishnu in his avtar as Nar Singh (also spelt as 'Nrusimha') has been cast vividly. There is a bronze 'Nandi' of life size, which stands facing the Manimahesh temple. There is a small water source called "Ardh Ganga" in a corner of the temple complex. Bathing in its water is considered religiously significant. The country around Bharmour is regarded as belonging to Lord Shiva and is sometimes called Shiva-Bhumi. Being the home of nomadic shepherds Gaddis it is also called 'Gadheran'. .Himachal Tourism tents are available at Bharmour and there is also a Tourist Rest House. Bharmour, 65 km away from Chamba & 80 km from Dharamshala. The way from Chamba is along an attractive hill road that follows the river for much of it's route. During the yatra days, the Himachal Road Transport Corporation (HRTC) provides special bus services between Chamba and Bharmour.Bharmour is also known for its delicious apples and local blankets.
LOCATION: Himachal Pradesh
TOURIST PLACES: Chaurasi, Manimahesh, Chhatrari and Kugti
BEST TIME TO VISIT: July to September
Life in Bharmour centres around the temple square-Chaurasia, which owes its name to the 84 shrines built within its periphery. The beautiful shikhara of Manimahesh temple dominates the square. A life-size image of Nandi in polished brass stands before it.
This place 34-km away from Bharmour is at a height of 4,170m and is an important place of pilgrimage. The view of the towering peak of the Manimahesh Kailash (5,656m) and its mirror image in still waters of a little lake are quite fascinating. Bands of pilgrims wend their way up the arduous track to bathe in the icy lake and to worship at the little temple there. Thousands of people come for the main pilgrimage, the Manimahesh Yatra in the months of August / September. Himachal Tourism Tents are also available here.
The Shakti Devi temple in Bharmour is of great archaeological importance. This place is 40-km away from Bharmour and 45-km from Chamba via road. The village is inhabited mostly by the Gaddis who are semi-postral lot, engaged in rearing of sheep and goats. Situated at a height of 6,000 feet, it's famous for its remarkable hill-style temple of Shakti Devi. The temple of Chhatrari is regarded as one of the holiest ones competing with well-known temples of "Lakshna Devi" at Bharmour and of "Bhawani" at Kangra.
The last inhabited village of Bharmour is not too far from the Kugti Pass (5,040 m) and is on the challenging trail from Bharmour to Keylong. Overlooking splendid forests of conifer, Kugti has a little forest resthouse too. The famous temple of Keylong Wazir is just 2-km away from here.
Trekking: Treks of 5-8 day duration, viable from June to October include:
Bharmour to Triloknath / Udaipur in Lahul over the Kalicho Pass (4,803m).
Bharmour to Udaipur over the Chobia Pass (4,996m).
Bharmour to Manali over the Kugti Pass (5,040m).
Bharmour to Manimahesh (4,170m).
A branch of the mountaineering Institute, Manali, at Bharmour organizes treks and provides information and equipment like tents, sleeping bags etc.
HOW TO GET THERE
Road: There is a bus services between Chamba and Bharmour. Chamba is 56-km drive from Dalhousie, which is well linked by road with public and private transport. Bharmour is situated 80-km away from Dharamshala.
A branch of the mountaineering Institute, Manali, and at Bharmour organizes treks and provides information and equipment like tents, sleeping bags etc.
HOW TO GET THERE
Road: Bharmour is 65-km away from Chamba along an attractive hill road that follows the river for much of its route. During the yatra days, the Himachal Pradesh Road Transport Corporation (HPRTC) provides special bus services between Chamba and Bharmour. Chamba is 56-km drive from Dalhousie, which is well linked by road with public and private transport. Bharmour is situated 80-km away from Dharamshala.
Kangra, The ancient Capital of Beautiful Valley runs along side Kullu Valley combines the charm of a beautiful Shivalik mountain ranges soaring up into the sky on either side. There are also several tea gardens dedicated to the production of both green and black Kangra tea and a delight of every tea drinker.
Gaddis in Kangra
The Gaddis of Kangra lead a simple and unsophisticated life, with a few needs and fewer worries, they are content with their lot. The Gaddis are Hindus and have permanent villages in the valley bottoms, where they are engaged in agriculture. The Gaddi women remain in the villages while the men roam with their sheep and goats in the higher meadows during summer. Here, they live a hard and adventurous life, often having to scare away Leoparsds and Bears who prowl arround to attack their sheep. Cheerful and courageous, they add colour to the region. The main approach to the town in from pathankot.
Kangra Town Tourist Attractions
South of Triund, lies the ancient town of Kangra, 17 km from Dharamshala and overlooking the gushing torrent Ban-Ganga, reached after passing through beautiful valley that has the luxuriant and luminous quality of a Kangra painting. Former capital of the great hill state, it is the home of the exquisite Pahari and Rajpur miniature paintings which flourished under the unstinted patronage of Raja Sansar Chand II.
Artists had started to migrate to the Himalayas after the invasion of Nadir Shah in 1739, the influx reached its peak during the reign of the Raja who held court for 25 years, in the fortress he built for himself in the Oudh-Mughal syle of architecture. The fort is still there but due to repeated seige, is partially in ruins. Under its shadow is the resplendent temple to the Goddess Brajreshwari, its golden dome spreading lustre for miles around.
Brajeshwari Devi Temple
Situated in Kangra town, this temple was once filled with a legendary fortune in diamonds and pearls. Hearing the wealth of this temple. Mahmud Ghazni plundered in the 11th century. Feroz Tughlak clearned out the restored fortune three centuries later. Final sack was carried out by Timur the lame before Mughals who followed and restored the shrine to its glory.
Chintapurni, 80 km south of Dharamshala, and Trilokpur have famous stone temples. This place is a must while visiting Kangra temples for pilgrims and tourists alike.
Adventure Activities And Sports In Kangra Valley
Kangra valley, is an ideal country for adventure and sports activities like mountaineering, trekking, rock climbing and fishing, it is this valley which witness annually hang gliding rally.
3.5 km from Palampur is predominantly Buddhist town of Bir and 14 km from Bir is Billing, a beacon for Hang gliders, the world over. In the month of May/June a tented colony is set up by Himachal Pradesh tourism to facilitate hang-gliders. At this time all the roads lead to billing.
Trekking & Mountaineering
There are many peaks between 3,500m to 5,000 in Dhauladhar ranges. Most of the treks which start from Dharamshala, Palampur or Baijnath are of 5 to 8 days duration and ultimately terminate at Bharmour and Chamba, over the majestic Dhauladhar ranges. Dharamshala to Chamba over Bhimghasutri Pass, Dharamshala to Holi and then to Manimahesh over Talang Pass; Palampur to Holi over Shinghor Pass; Palampur to Dharamshala via Indradhar Pass and Baijnath to Manali over Thamsar Pass, are some of the existing treks. Most of the treks are operational from May to October. The regional mountaineering centre at Dharamshala provides technical know-how and equipment besides organising adventure courses.
Lahaul to Kangra over Manimahesh Lake
This enchanting trek takes you along the ancient trails of the Gaddis - the shepherds - over high mountain passes from dry Lahaul valley into the beautiful and un-spoilt valleys of Chamba and Kangra. You will visit the hamlet of Bharmour, encircled by the mighty ramparts of the Dhauladhar. The trek also takes you close to the Manimahesh Lake at foot of the 5656m Manimahesh Kailash peak, believed to be the abode of Lord Shiva. The trek ends in Macleodgunj, the adopted hometown of the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual and political head of the Tibetans.
SEASON: July - September
MAX. ALTITUDE: 4966m
NUMBER OF DAYS: 15 days
HIGH PASSES: Rohtang Pass (3970m), Chobia Pass (4966m) and Minkiani Pass (4314m)
TREK GRADIENT: Challenging