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Little known folktales of ‘hidden Himachal’

Little known folktales of ‘hidden Himachal’

The Pagoda-shaped temple of Tripura Devi at Naggar in Kullu.



Vishal Gulati

Shimla, December 21

The 17th century Bilaspur town, considered to be amongst the first planned towns in the hills of India, was also submerged in the waters of the Sutlej with the construction of the Bhakra Dam in 1962.

A cemetery at Dagshai, which grew under the British rule, holds the grave of Mary Rebecca Weston. Some consider this to the most elegant of graves in the country. A strange superstition grew around the grave. Childless women believed that they would conceive if they swallowed a bit of tombstone.

Like these, many other tales and stories of Himachal Pradesh were penned by Shimla-based writer-cum-historian Raaja Bhasin in a 115-page coffee table book ‘Hidden Himachal’ for Himachal Tourism. It was released by Chief Minister Jai Ram Thakur this week.

Divided in three sections, the first section talks about those places that have ease of accessibility from the primary tourist destinations and are yet not very well known.

The second section focuses on places with little more difficulty level of accessibility, while the third covers some of the most difficult areas such as the Great Himalayan National Park in Kullu district and some high mountain passes.

Dhami and Arki are two small towns that date back to the time when there were numerous princely states in Himachal Pradesh. Both towns are fairly close to Shimla but are relatively off the normal tourist circuit. They have natural beauty and are examples of fine architecture.

The most significant loss in submersion that Bilaspur town, situated some 120 km from the state capital, suffered was 28 large and small temples. According to Bhasin, most of these were built in the classical ‘nagara’ style. The temples remained unstudied largely by scholars. The only research done was by noted art historian Hermann Goetz in the 1950s shortly before they went under water.

Daba Siba, situated close to the Punjab border, was surrounded by lush fields and mango groves. Bordered by the waters of Maharana Pratap Sagar, it holds a rare architectural and art marvel in the form of a magnificent temple of Radha Krishna that dates back to 1835.

Dagshai, located at a height of about 6,000 feet, was a barren hill that in 1847 was transferred by the Maharaja of Patiala to the British for creating a military station or cantonment.

Seraj is not as well known as Kullu or Manali, but is woven with a rich culture that is fairly distinct from that of the Beas Valley. A major portion of inner Seraj is taken up by the Tirthan Wildlife Sanctuary.

For some 1,400 years, Naggar was the seat of the erstwhile princely state of Kullu. Naggar, which boasts of the famed International Roerich Memorial Trust, is home to age-old shrines, including the pagoda-shaped temple of Tripura Devi.

The lesser known destinations showcased in the coffee table book include the shrine of Mata Kunal Pathri located on the suburbs of Dharamsala town. It is dedicated to Devi Sati, the consort of Lord Shiva, which has a huge following in the Kangra region. One of the most remarkable monasteries of Spiti is located in Hikkam village. — IANS


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