Trip to the Indian Himalayas
The Lakshmi Narayan temple in Chamba was built by Sahil Verma in the 10th century in the style of Shihar. In total, there are six temples on the territory of the temple complex – three of which are dedicated to Vishnu, and the other three are to Shiva. The city itself, once the capital of the oldest Himalayan principality, is now a small district center of Himachal Pradesh, with narrow streets, old houses and a market, which you can wander around all day. And, like many of his neighbors, he has not lost his attractiveness and originality, while remaining the center of spirituality, art and craft. In the city and the valley of the same name today there are 84 temples of the 7-10th century.
On Monday, the day of Shiva, we were incredibly lucky – we got to the festival, which is held once a year in the sacred place of one of the minipities – Bradzheshvari Devi – a tantric form of Shakti, especially revered in Himachal Pradesh. In each of these places, part of the body of Sati, beloved of Lord Shiva, fell. So having failed to choose between her love for Shiva and the blessing of her father, who hated him, she threw herself into the fire. Shiva, mad with grief, took his lover’s body in his arms and began to rush around the universe, threatening to destroy the whole World. Seeing this, Lord Vishnu – the keeper of the Universe, with his chakra Sudarshana cut the body of beautiful Sati into 51 parts. And, in those places where they fell people and now pay tribute to Sati … and love, beautiful as a spring flower.
No wonder the festival is held in the spring, at the time of flowering. According to the legends that have survived to our day, the first temple on this site was built by the Pandavas, the main characters of the Mahabharata. One night, the brothers dreamed of the goddess Durga, who told them that she was in Nagarkot, and if they want to continue to be safe, they should build a temple for her. The temple was built, according to the same legend, in just one night. Subsequently, he was repeatedly looted and restored again. Now it is a quite modern building, not much resembling a temple built by the Pandav brothers, in that legendary heroic era.
Masrour, which we visited on one of the beautiful sunny days, is a unique complex of temples, carved out of a single rock. In the center of the complex is a temple dedicated to Rama, Lakshman and Sita, on either side of it there are 14 smaller temples. And, although the temple complex was seriously affected by earthquakes, including in 1905, it still makes an indelible impression today.
It is worth mentioning another place we visited – Badjnath Tirth, on the river bank there, among the rocks, during the summer months sadhus come from all over India. Baba graciously met us, about the life of the sadhu, ashram and its history.
I also remember a walk from Sherablink Monastery on the territory of the University of which I shot an artist painting figures of Buddhas, Protectors and Bodhissats for a new stupa being built nearby – in Bir, one of the centers of Buddhism in the Indian Himalayas, as well as a center for tourism and paragliding. It was during this walk that I took some pretty good photos, including a smiling little girl. Yes, and the very contact with the everyday life of people always leaves a lasting impression.
A trip along the narrow-gauge railway, built by the British, along with the Indians, is a separate story that will live in my heart for a long time. And, of course, the beauty of the Himalayas themselves, which opens to the heart …
In general, the trip was a great success and left a very good and favorable impression. The author sincerely thanks Marina Filippov and Stas Fedorov for a wonderful trip and interesting fascinating stories, which I did not fail to take advantage of while writing annotations to the photo album.