In the land of the epic…
The Hidimba Temple, located at the foot of the Himalayas, is a popular tourist destination. According to the Mahabharata epic, the Pandavas spent much of their time in exile in and around Manali. When the demon Hidimb attacked them, in the ensuing fight, Bheem, the strongest Pandav, managed to slay the rakshas. What followed was a marriage between Bheem and Hidimb’s sister, Hidimba; but when the Pandavas returned from exile, the demoness remained behind doing a combination of meditation, prayer and penance so as to eventually attain the status of a goddess. The ancient cave temple was built in dedication to her in the 16th century.
Opportunities for day-trips are plenty, as small towns like Vashisht and Manikaran, famed for their natural hot springs, are not far. The grassy slopes of the Rohtang Pass are but a short ride away, as is the house of the great Russian painter Nicholus Roerich. Solang Valley, with its sprawling pitches of lawn, is popular for its summer and winter sports, most specifically skiing. When the snow melts in the summer months, thrill-seekers switch to zorbing, which involves rolling down a 200 metre hill in a giant ball.
Trekking enthusiasts can climb up to the Bijli Mahadev, the temple of lightning, which glistens like a silver beacon in the sun and offers a panoramic view of the Kullu and Parvati valleys.