Manimahesh Lake (also known as Dal Lake, Manimahesh) is a high altitude lake (elevation 4,080 metres (13,390 ft)) situated close to the Manimahesh Kailash Peak in the Pir Panjal Range of the Himalyas, in the Bharmour subdivision of Chamba District of the Indian State of Himachal Pradesh. The religious significance of this lake is next to that of the Mansrover in Tibet.
The lake is the venue of a highly revered pilgrimage trek undertaken during the month of August/September corresponding to the month of Bhadon according to Hindu Calender, on the eighth day of the New Moon period. It is known as the ‘Manimahesh Yatra’. The Government of Himachal Pradesh has declared it as a state-level pilgrimage.
It is believed that Lord Shiva resides here with his beloved Parvati after getting married and Vishwakrma is the creator of the place, who created a beautiful place where no one can disturb the couple. Sacred Kailash lies standing high near the lake.
Mount Kailash is considered as invincible. No one has so far been able to scale this peak despite the fact that much taller peaks, including Mount Everest have been conquered many times. One story goes that once a ‘Gaddi’ tried to climb the mountain along with his herd of sheep. He is believed to have been turned into stone along with his sheep. Even today, the series of minor peaks below the principal peak are believed to be the remains of the ill-fated shepherd and his flock. There is yet another legend according to which a snake also attempted to climb this peak but failed and was turned into stone. It is also believed that the devotees can have a view of the Kailash peak only if the Lord is pleased. Bad weather, when the peak is hidden behind clouds, is a sign of the Shiva displeasure.Etymology of ‘Manimahesh’ signifies a “jewel (Mani) on Lord Shiva’s (Mahesh’s) crown”. According to a local legend, the moon-rays reflected from the jewel can be seen from Manimahesh Lake on clear Full moon night (which is a rare occasion). However, it has been inferred that such a phenomenon could be the result of reflection of light from the glacier that embellishes the peak in the form of a serpent around Shiva’s neck.
A rare event of the first sun’s rays falling on the Mani Mahesh peak is seen in reflection in the lake like saffron tilak. This display in the lake has enhanced the legendary belief of the Gaddis on the sanctity of Manimahesh Lake at the base of the Mount Kailash, which they visit on an annual pilgrimage. This event has also contributed to the practice of taking bath in the lake on Janmashtami day or Radhashtami day, fifteen days after the birth of Lord Krishna.Manimahesh was also considered the abode of the three Lords of the universe namely, Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. Manimahesh was reckoned as the heaven (kailasa) of Lord Shiva. The waterfall seen at the Dhancho on the way to Manimahesh Lake, and which emanates from the lake, was considered as the heaven (Vaikunta) of Vishnu. The heaven of Bramha is cited as a mound overlooking the Bharmaur city. The Gaddis also believe that Shiva resides in the Mount Kailash for six months, whereafter he moves to the netherworld handing over the reigns to Lord Vishnu. The day he departs to the netherworld is observed by the Gaddis reverentially every year, which is the Janmashtami day, the eighth day of the month of Bhadon (August), the birthday of Lord Krishna (an incarnation of Lord Vishnu). Shiva returned from the netherworld to Bharamaur at the end of February, before the night of his wedding and this day is observed as the Shivratri day; Gaddis observe this also as a festive day since Shiva and Parvati returned to Mount Kailash in the Gaddi land.About one and half kilometres short of Manimahesh Lake fall two important water bodies called Gauri Kund and Shiva Krotri. As per popular belief Gauri and Shiva bathe in these two lakes respectively. The women pilgrims take holy dip in Gauri Kund and the men pilgrims in Shiva Krotri before proceeding to Manimahesh Lake.
Trek is of 14 kms and it starts from Hadsar 9 kms away from Holy village of Bharmaur. Whole trek is too beautiful and lots of serene and surreal scenes can b observed on the way. One can avail tents on the way to stay and meals pitched by locals during the yatra. Halfway around Dancho is the place where generally many people stay during the yatra and the other option can be taken at Sundrasi somewhat 2 -3 kms away from Dhancho. Langars are also available During the fair held during Aug-Sept around Radhashtmi.
There is equal importance of Bharmani mata temple situated at 4 kms away from Bharmour, having a boon that one has to take a dip in Bharmani mata temple pool for a successful Yatra of Manimahesh kailash.
Few more click from enroute Chamba-Bharmaur-Hadsar