Manikaran: A Melange of Paradoxes

Life leaps like a geyser for those who drill through the rock of inertia

Dr. Alexis Carrell (Winner of the Nobel Prize in 1912 for his pioneering vascular suturing techniques)

I find this quote quite inspiring. Life indeed leaps up exuberantly for those who have the tenacity to work hard to remove the inertia of doubts, excuses, difficulties, hardships and other impediments.

In my opinion, travel is no exception to this rule. To find spectacular places and sights off the beaten tracks, one does need to work hard and overcome the inertia, mainly manifesting as “doubts” or “apprehensions”. The “geyser” of mesmerizing experiences does indeed leap forth for such travelers.

Allow us to offer a bit of a literal treatment to this quote. We did indeed “drill” into the path less taken, high atop the mighty Himalayan Mountains and found a magnanimous display of a Paradox – A Geyser, lying in a valley where freezing mountain winds rule the roost, yet, so scorching hot that one won’t be able to walk properly without proper shoes, thanks to the Plate Tectonic action right below his / her feet.

Before delving deeper into unraveling some of the enigma associated with this place, I would take this opportunity to thank Dr. Avni Sethi for kindly consenting to share her pictures pertaining to this trip. She is a Doctor cum MBA graduate from IIM Tiruchirappalli. She undertook this trip in March 2020 (pre-lockdown period). Visit her profile (Instagram: @curiouscurls03) for some breathtaking photographs of natural sights and scenes in addition to some brilliant travel pictures.


What and Why


Nestled high atop the Himalayan Mountain Ranges lies the picturesque hamlet of Manikaran which is located on the Parvati River valley.

Manikaran is located at an altitude of nearly 1,760m above sea level.

The altitude makes the weather of Manikaran quite cold all year round with the winter temperatures sometimes dropping below 00C.

Which is why describing about the Paradox of Maninakan makes it even more interesting and uncliche.

A view of the beautiful Manikaran Gurudwara nestled amidst the tall Himalayan Mountains

GeologyYoung Fold Mountains


It is a well known fact that the Himalayan Mountain Ranges are actually Young Fold Mountains and were formed by the collision of the Indian Plate with the Eurasian Plate some 10-15 Million years ago.

The other prominent young fold mountain ranges (age less than 100 Million years) are:

  • The Alps in Europe
  • The Rocky Mountains in North America
  • The Andes in South America
  • The Southern Alps in Oceania

Among these mountains, the Himalayas are considered to be the youngest. There are other fold mountains as well like the Aravalis, the Western and the Eastern Ghats (India), Urals (Europe), Appalachian Mountains (North America) which are much older (aged more than 200 Million years) and are commonly known as Old Fold Mountains.

The Young Fold Mountains are jagged, tall and have rough features. And they are geologically extremely ACTIVE – one can find a series of volcanoes, hot springs , geysers dotting these young fold mountains or active Plate Tectonic Boundaries. These fold mountains usually sit very close to continental fault lines or boundaries, making them prone to earthquakes.

Thus, it’s not surprising to note that the Andes, the Rocky Mountains and the Southern Alps are a part of the intensely active Pacific Ring of Fire. The nomenclature is self explanatory.

Geology – Manikaran Geyser


Steam emanating from a part of the Manikaran Geyser

The Himalayan Mountain Range, being a young fold mountain range itself, is geologically extremely active.

The Indian plate is still pushing steadily into the Eurasian Plate. There are a number of hot springs and a few geysers dotting the Himalayan Mountains.

There is no volcano in the Himalayas, yet. But given the young age of these mountains, the hyper geological activity of the Mountains and the presence of geysers, the possibility of the emergence of one or several volcanoes in future in or around the Himalayas cannot be ruled out. There have already been reports of magma-like underground liquid eruptions in the Indian states of Himachal Pradesh and Tripura, which incidentally lie on or are very close to the Himalayas.

Now Manikaran itself contains a massive geyser in addition to some hot springs quite close by. The region contains a lot of sub-faults, fracture zones and thrust areas.

A Geyser is formed when water percolates underground, comes in contact with magma or hot rocks indirectly heated up by magma, thereby reaching super-heated temperatures way beyond the boiling point, and releasing the intense heat on the surface in the form of a jet of erupting super-heated water and steam.

The presence of active geo-tectonic zones of the Himalayas and fracture areas provide ripe opportunity for the water from nearby springs and rivers to get super-heated by magma and appear on the surface as boiling water or erupting geyser jets.

Boiling water of the geyser in a small enclosed area inside the Manikaran Temple

Places of Worship


A part of the Geyser is covered by two religious places standing alongside one another:

  • Temple of Lord Shiva
  • Shri Guru Nanak Dev ji Gurudwara

The Hindus and Sikhs pray and live close to each other in harmony in this place.

The occurrence of this Geyser has some religious beliefs associated among both the Hindus and the Sikhs.

As per Hindu beliefs, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati visited this place in ancient times and were enamoured by the beauty of this place. However, Goddess Parvati lost some of her jewels (“Mani” in Hindi – hence the name of this place) and requested Lord Shiva to help retrieve it. Lord Shiva, post several unsuccessful attempts in finding out the jewels became furious. Lord Sheshnag, the Serpent God, came to the rescue and hissed at the flowing waters, which started boiling and threw up the lost jewels of Goddess Parvati.

As per Sikh beliefs, Guru Nanak Dev ji, the First Guru of Sikh religion, visited this place alongwith his disciple Bhai Mardana, for the welfare of the local people. Bhai Mardana managed to get some pulses and flour for starting the langar (Sikh Community kitchens which still hold the tradition of feeding the poor and needy), but was unable to light up a fire to cook the food. Guru Nanak Dev ji advised his disciple to remove a stone block from where he was sitting. Upon removing the stone, boiling water appeared from beneath, enabling the disciple to cook food and serve the needy.

Spectacular features


The Temple and Gurudwara complex are situated in a picturesque river valley and one may be able to see the snow capped Mountains nearby.

There are some features which make this place unique:

  • The water from the geyser is believed to have healing properties. Many people take a bath in an artificial reservoir fed by hot water of the geyser which is cooled by cold water from nearby springs
  • It is quite common to see people cooking rice or pulses in the boiling water of the geyser
  • To prevent eruption of the scalding hot water, the Temple has been built using thick stone slabs and Iron Manhole Covers which are securely bolted.
  • Despite these arrangements, the stone slabs get so hot that sometimes people dry their clothes on those slabs.

Isn’t it a perfect amalgamation of the Paradoxes? You feel the chill of the winds flow in this place and you may see Icy mountains nearby. But beneath your feet you have the Plate Tectonics in motion, churning out boiling water from the depths of the Earth, which you should not dare to touch.

The Government of India plans to explore the prospects of Renewable Power Generation from Geothermal Energy in Manikaran. Several surveys have already been done and are still undergoing to explore the feasibility. It may be noted that Geothermal Energy is a great form of zero emission renewable energy which can provide uninterrupted power without suffering from the erratic nature of some other renewable power sources like Solar Power.

Another small section of the Manikaran complex where boiling water of the geyser is seen coming out in the open

Safety Warnings


By now, you must have got the idea how hot the magma heated geyser can be. Hence a few safety precautions might help you enjoy a great trip to this place, safely.

  • Geyser waters may be superheated, i.e., above 1000C. Hence it is absolutely NOT recommended to try to touch those waters, unless it has been cooled down in the artificial reservoirs meant for people to take a bath. And stay away from the steam as well because of this very reason.
  • The stones in the temple may be too hot to touch. Don’t go on touching the stones unless marked safe to do so.
  • Obey the safety instructions which might be in force as provided by the Local Administration.

Where


Manikaran is located in the Himachal Pradesh State of India. Almost the entire state of Himachal Pradesh lies on the mighty Himalayas.

Location of Manikaran (India). Map Courtesy: Google Maps

Nearest Accommodation


Kasol (about 10 km), Kullu (about 43 km), Manali (about 55 km) are major tourist hubs which offer good accommodation options for tourists.

People who wish to visit Manikaran usually stay in one of the above mentioned places and take a taxi or a bus to reach Manikaran.

Nearest Airports


Chandigarh International Airport: about 274 km

Chandigarh Airport offers direct connections to several major Indian cities like Delhi, Mumbai or Kolkata. It has international connections to UAE (Dubai and Sharjah) only as of now.

Amritsar International Airport: about 400 km

Amritsar Airport is a Major airport in India. It offers connections to several countries like UK, UAE, Qatar, Singapore, Malaysia

New Delhi International Airport: about 520 km

New Delhi International Airport is the largest and busiest airport in India and features among the top ranking Airports of Asia. It offers direct connections to a plethora of countries.

Manikaran is also served by Kullu Airport (about 43 km), but that’s quite small and flights may not be that frequent from the nearest hubs of Chandigarh and New Delhi.

There are, however, a lot of Government owned and Private owned luxury buses available from Chandigarh, Amritsar or New Delhi to Manali and Kullu. One may also decide to hire taxis from any of the above mentioned places to reach Manali or Kullu or even Manikaran, but taxis might be expensive.


When (to visit)


Preferably during the Summer Months (March to May) or during Autumn (September to November)

The roads may get closed during the Winters due to heavy snowfall. And it’s also not advisable to travel during the monsoons due to the risk of landslides on account of heavy rainfall.

I visited this place 20 years back during May 2000. As mentioned previously in this post, Dr. Avni visited this place during March 2020 pre-lockdown period.


.. Until Next Time ..


India is not just Taj Mahal, Goa or Mumbai.

It has a lot more to offer. Over-tourism, or tourism concentrated to a very few places, overcrowds them and leaves the others unexplored, the latter having so much to offer themselves.

If one has to experience the Best of Adventure Sports, Mountaineering, Trekking and get lost in the breathtaking vistas of the Ice clad Mountains, he / she should consider India as one of the options.

In addition to observing the Plate Tectonics at work in Manikaran (and the Andaman & Nicobar Islands), one can enjoy many of the aforementioned activities in the Himalayan State of Himachal Pradesh. Plus, India has a rich cultural and culinary heritage as well. Tasting the local food in Himachal Pradesh is recommended.

The Himalayan Mountain Range is extremely long. One can get variations of local cultures and food in several states of India like Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, West Bengal and the entire North Eastern India which have a part of the Himalayas in their territories. Many of these places are quite unexplored even today.

Come, explore, be mesmerized in Incredible India..

© Abirbhav Mukherjee and Dr. Avni Sethi. All the pictures posted in this article belong to Dr. Avni (Instagram: @curiouscurls03) and have been taken with her permission.

81 comments

  1. Che posto Abir, che atmosfera! Fuoco e ghiaccio. Immagino la magia del tempio e il vapore sull’acqua. Certo, non so se avrei il coraggio di fare il bagno ma di certo mi divertirei a guardare la gente del posto cucinare il riso!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Non è fantastico, Benedetta? Fuoco e ghiaccio, entrambi i paradossi insieme in un unico posto.. 😍😍
      Ti piacerà il geyser Manikaran. Bene, lo confesso, non ho fatto il bagno da solo nella piscina artificiale costruita lì – la temperatura era troppo calda per me.
      Ma ancora, ad alcune persone piacciono queste temperature.. 😂😂
      Il geyser aiuta le persone a cucinare il riso, asciugare i vestiti. Visita Manikaran in India e goditi la bellezza dei paradossi – con una tazza di tè.. 🍵

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Lo farei volentieri!Ho sempre considerato l’India come un paese dai grandi contrasti e la vorrei proprio vedere, almeno una volta nella vita per farmene un’idea. Speriamo prima o poi…nel frattempo mi godo i tuoi articoli.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Grazie Benedetta per le tue belle parole.
          Se vieni in India, fammi sapere. Ti aiuterà volentieri a raccogliere esperienze degne di nota. ❤ 🤗
          Sei sempre il benvenuto in India .. 😊😊
          Grazie mille per tutto l'apprezzamento verso i miei post .. Significano davvero molto per me .. 😊

          Liked by 1 person

            1. Bene, mi hai appena reso felice Benedetta .. 😊😊
              Significa molto per me .. 😊😊
              Ho condiviso qualche altro articolo .. Spero di avere anche le tue recensioni degli esperti su di loro .. 😊😊

              Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, I believe you will plan to stay “much more than one day” when you visit India.. 😉 🙂

      By all means, explore India this time. Discover the places away from the usual touristy spots (and yes, soak in such geysers for hours if you want to.. 😉 )
      I believe in Italy there will be an abundance of geysers, right?
      But worry not, in India, you can find tea cultivation spots as well, high atop such Mountains.. 😉
      Thank you Nilla once again for your appreciation.. 🙂 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so happy to know that you are impressed with the images of India and would consider visiting India.. 😊😊 I shall be happy to assist in case you need help.. 😊
      Welcome to India..!!
      If you stay away from the cliches and touristy places, you can discover the rich cultural heritage and wonderful nature of India, which is mostly unexplored, less crowded and friendly.. 😊😊
      Thank you Madam for your appreciation..!! 😊

      Like

  2. Thanks for giving so much interesting information, Abirbhav! Himalayan range is truly mesmerising and has a lot of breathtaking views and mysterious spots. People should know more about less touristic, but much worthy places in our planet! Keep posting such needed articles 😊

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much Madam for your lovely comment.. 😊😊
      Indeed, the Himalayas are amazing and people must visit such unknown yet spectacular places.. There is beauty hidden amongst the unknown, waiting to be discovered..!!
      It’s my endeavour to present such unknown gems wherever I find them.. Do check my articles and let me know if you can find any such unknown beauties.. 😊😊
      Thank you once again Madam.. 😊😊

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Well, glad to be appreciated by the expert in History and Archaeology herself.. 😊😊
          Hope you remember to visit these places and not the usual touristy ones when you visit India.. 😊😊

          Liked by 1 person

  3. This indeed is amazing place. Free lodging, food and hot water baths. Himachal is the place I travel to every year and is being missed now. Lovely post. Thank you for sharing the beauty of Himachal.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much Madam for your visit and your enthusiastic comment.. 😊😊
      You are right – Himachal Pradesh is really an amazing place. Good to know that you have traveled extensively across the state and can partially relate to this post.. 😊
      Hope you go and visit Himachal once again and pretty soon.. 😊

      Like

    1. Thank you so much Madam for your appreciation.. 😊😊 Glad you liked this place and would consider visiting it the next time you are in India.. 😊😊
      Do let me know in case you decide to plan your trip.. Will be happy to assist you in making plans to some unexplored yet breathtaking places in India for a memorable experience..!!
      Welcome to India.. 😊😊

      Liked by 1 person

  4. We visited Manikaran as well as other spots in the Parvati valley. The mix of legends, geology and landscape makes it such a unique, fascinating area. We also spent a night in the strange town of Malana. One of the most unusual towns we’ve visited.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Wow..!! Thank you for providing the details which I didn’t know about previously.
      I am happy to know that you enjoyed Manikaran and the neighbouring areas of Himachal Pradesh.. 😊😊
      And yes, Malana seems to be quite unusual. The language they speak is quite unique and rare, and is believed to be a mix of Sanskrit and Tibetan dialects.
      You are welcome to visit India again.. 😊😊
      Thank you for sharing your experiences.. 😊😊

      Liked by 1 person

  5. India really is a place of wonders. Thank you for introducing me to this interesting site. It is fascinating how it is used as a place of worship, for cooking, for bathing and hopefully in the future as a source of geothermal power.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much Madam for your wonderful words of appreciation.. ☺️☺️

      Indeed, India is a land of wonders..!! Strange are the ways Nature works. I feel fascinated by the Plate Tectonic movements. And yes, hopefully in near future, India will be able to harness the Geothermal power, provided by Nature..!!

      Thank you once again Madam.. ☺️☺️ So glad that you liked it.. ☺️☺️

      Do check out my other articles on India.. Hope you will find them good as well.. ☺️☺️

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Vielen Dank Frau für Ihre schönen Kommentare.. ☺️☺️
      Ich bin so froh, dass Ihnen die Beschreibung eines so schönen Ortes gefallen hat..
      Grüße an Sie und Ihre Familie aus Indien.. ☺️🤗
      Abir

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Oh my, but this is beautiful, a place I had never heard of, because, of course it is not the ‘usual, So there’s not so much written about it, rather there it is standing in the shadow of the usual. A fabulous post that puts in on the map, not of the average tourist but those who do not want average.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Great to see the Boss Lady return.. 😉

      Thank you so much for your appreciation.. 😊🤗
      You are right, this place lies (perhaps literally) in the shadows of its taller siblings, like a “diamond in the rough”.. 😉
      As I have been saying, India or the World in general is littered with such peculiar places which are not on the maps of general tourists. Which is all the more reason why tourists should ditch the usual and proceed forward to such “undiscovered” places.. 😊😊

      Thank you so much once again for your lovely comment..!! 😊

      Liked by 1 person

              1. Cheers to that..!!
                You know that big tourist spots don’t interest me either.
                Berlin is a Big Exception, because to me, it’s not just a place – it’s an Idea which I dearly cherish.. 🇩🇪

                Liked by 1 person

    1. You are very much correct Madam.. India and the World in general have a plethora of hidden gems like these. People crowding in a few touristy places causes over-tourism in those places and zero tourism in the others – both of which aren’t good.
      Thank you so much Madam for your comment..!! Glad you liked the post.. 😊😊

      Like

  7. “India is not just about Taj Mahal, Mumbai or Goa,” how truly remarked! As always, you’ve succeeded in your attempt of bringing forth the unclichè to the notice of your readers and encouraged them to behold the mighty Himalayas with all its charms and paradoxes.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you Angira for your wonderful comment.. 😊😍🤗

      Glad that the idea of India being more than Taj Mahal, Mumbai or Goa resonates with you..!! 😊🤗
      And that should be the case. People should go and explore more in India. Very few know about the presence of such a paradox present high atop the cold, frigid valleys of the Himalayas..

      Thank you Angira yet again for your encouragement.. ❤ 😊🤗

      Liked by 1 person

  8. What a lovely piece of information from geography to ecology. I liked the interesting story of Lord Shiva and Parvati. You give so much detailed information that I actually can imagine myself there. And yes, India is more than Taj Mahal and Goa. Well written.

    Also, I have also posted something, though not detailed this time. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you so much Madam for your wonderful comment.. 😊🤗
      It’s a great compliment for me to know that you could feel being present right there in Manikaran by reading my post.. 😊😊 However, nothing on Earth compares to being present somewhere physically to enjoy or learn from that place.. I would urge you to visit Manikaran on your next Himalayan Odessey.. 😊🤗

      Absolutely, India is much more than Taj Mahal or Goa.. 😊

      Now I shall roll over to your blog post.. 😊

      Like

  9. Another great blog post, thank you for the detailed description and information about this special place. The mythical background is as fascinating as the considerations of using geothermal energy as an energy source. Many thanks also to the photographer, Dr. Avni Sethi! 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you Madam for your lovely comment.. 😊😊 I shall pass on your feedback to Dr. Avni Sethi.. !!
      Strange are the ways Nature works. It’s quite hard to see the effects of what goes right beneath our feet. But occasionally, or in places like these, we do get a small glimpse of those mechanizations.. 😊😊
      I am so happy you liked it.. 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  10. This is my favorite blog…reason behind…I have been to Manikaran🙈 may be…8 yrs back.
    I can relate to everything you have mentioned about that place. Those hot springs…I have seen people cooking food, on them…

    But the inside story…why it is actually hot…I got to know now.
    So ,thank you Abir.😊💙
    You have given me a lot of information about this place. Would love to visit again.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I am so happy to know that you visited Manikaran and could relate to it.. 😊😊

      Places like these are relatively unknown and more people should visit these marvels of the Plate Tectonics.. 😊

      Thank you for your praise and elevating this post as your favourite.. 😊🤗 Glad you loved it so much..!!

      Do visit this place again if you want to.. Would love to know your reviews as well.. 😊

      Like

      1. Would definitely Abir..
        Thank you so much for sharing this.
        I have got so many memories from this place…and while reading your blog..I relived them again.

        When I’ll visit this place… I’ll definitely share my views with you.😊

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Tanya for your wonderful comment.. 😊😊
      I am glad you liked the article and your thoughts could resonate with parts of this article..!! 😊😊
      Thank you so much for your inspiration..!!
      You too take care and stay safe..!!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Ciao! 🙋🏻‍♀️😊 Che luogo fantastico!!! Ho adorato la tua descrizione, non sapevo di questo geyser, davvero affascinante, complimenti per il tuo bellissimo articolo!!! 👏👏👏♥️
    Le foto sono meravigliose, grazie mille per i tuoi articoli, fanno viaggiare con la mente verso luoghi favolosi!!! 😍

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Grazie mille signora ancora una volta per i tuoi adorabili commenti .. !! 😊😊
      Mi lodi sempre e mi ispiri a scrivere meglio.
      Sono così felice che questo articolo ti sia piaciuto.
      In Italia, potresti trovare anche numerosi vulcani e geyser attivi, non è così raro in Italia.. 🇮🇹
      Grazie mille ancora una volta signora .. Abbracci .. 😊🤗

      Liked by 1 person

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