Manikaran is a famous pilgrimage place situated in Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh State. This place is famous for Shiva temple, Ram temple, Gurudwara and hot water springs. Manikaran is in Parbati (Parvati) valley. Parvati valley is the largest valley in Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh state in India covering 90Kms length and 1085 sq.Km area. The Himalayan ranges of hills at Manikaran are called Shivalik range. The Parvati River flows beside the Shiva temple and Gurudwara. The starting point of Parvati river is at Mantalai. Many hot water springs are found at various places in and around the main area of Manikaran. Distances between Manikaran and important places: Manikaran is 35 Kms from Bhuntar, 45 Kms from Kullu, 85 Kms from Manali 300 Kms from Chandigarh and 545 Kms from New Delhi.
There are two main stories behind this place. Mantalai was believed to be the meditation place of lord Shiva. Once, when he was in deep meditation, Goddess Parvati comes down from that place and takes rest at Manikaran. Lord Shiva too comes down in the same path on searching Goddess Parvati and finds her at Manikaran taking rest under a tree. This path later became the river and named as Parvati River.The second story is about the the name of this place. Goddess Parvati loses her precious stone (Mani) from the ear (karan) while being inside the river (hence the name Manikaran). This precious jewel goes inside Sheshnag. Lord Shiva comes to know about the loss of the jewel and opens his third eye on not finding it anywhere on the earth. To rescue the world, Sheshnag throws out the jewel along with other precious jewels too. It is believed that the venom which came from Sheshnag along with the precious stones, made hot water springs at Manikaran.Manikaran also has importance in Mahabharata and Ramayana. There are many believes on this place that, the wishes come true, the hot water absorbs the sins of people etc… In Manikaran, the hot water springs stretch for a distance of 6 to 7 Kms between Roop Ganga and Kasol. The temperature varies between 80 to 100 degree Celsius. Though these hot water springs are considered as due to Sulphur, the taste is good and there is no bad smell. As per the test reports, the water is radioactive and is curable. On medical analysis, regular dips at these hot water springs can cure gastric complaints. We have seen in the hot water springs at Shiva temple, people cooking grains and rice using clothes and containers.All the hot water springs are located on the right banks for Parvati River. All temples and visiting places are also located on the right bank. To the left, there is bus stand, restaurants and entry into Gurudwara. The Parvati river can be crossed either at a bridge constructed at restaurant area or at Gurudwara entrance.
This lake is located at a distance of 50 KM from Bajaura. It is almost same distance from Mandi side also. If you are coming from Manali side towards Shimla then after Kullu and Bhuntar airport you will reach a small town Bajaura. You need not travel upto Mandi to visit Parasara Lake if you are returning from Manali side. This place is at a distance of 10 KM from Bhuntar airport. From Bajaura a right side road goes to Prashar Lake. From this point the road is narrow but well maintained. The road passes through hills with big pine trees on both sides. Snow capped mountains of Manali will be visible throughout if weather is clear. After traveling 4 KM for Prashar lake in narrow road from Binjora junction ( On main Manali – Shimla road ) the road will pass through village Ropa ( 4 KM ), Rahala (9 KM ), Kandi (16 KM ) and Teheri (21 KM ).
After 26 KM from Bijaura on this road you will meet one Y junction. The straight road will take you to Mandi and left side road will take you to Prashar Lake. From this junction Mandi is 25 KM and Prashar Lake ( left side road ) is 23 KM. On your return journey you can use this Mandi road from here if you want to travel towards Mandi, Sundarnagar, Bilaspur Shimla etc. Or you can return to Bajaura side and travel towards Kullu, Manali.After Y junction it is climb upto the Lake and the road is under construction in many places. Road is very bad in many places. In this remote road also some places shops are available selling water, biscuits etc.
As the lake is surrounded by small hillocks you need to walk 500 meters to reach the top and can have the first glimpse of the Lake and the temple. There is a small restaurant here to serve you lunch. Very simple food consisting of plain Rice , Rajama Dal and pickle was available. Price was Rs 30/- per plate. After 4 hours of drive from Kullu we were bit hungry and the food was just what we were looking for.
We descended a bit to reach the side of the lake and the temple. The three storied pagoda type temple is very traditional type with wood carving structures around it. You need to remove shoe and leather belt , purse etc to enter into the main temple complex. There is a statue of great saint or saga Prashar ( Muni Prashar ). You can go around the lake and do a parikrama ( walking around ) . You are not supposed to enter inside with shoes and touch the water of this sacred lake. There is a wire fence throughout the lake.
Near the lake there is a forest rest house is available to stay. You can try your luck here or return to near by village if you want to stay here.