Do places with a bit of mythological and historical importance interest you? Do you like to visit places that showcase architecture of olden times? How would you feel if your holiday destination includes fun places and also places of religious relevance?
Let me share with you my experience with regards to all of the above. This summer our destination for escape from urban chaos was Mussoorie. As is the case with all holidays we just wanted to relax and through our quintessential Google baba we knew the places that were worthy of a visit.
However we were in for a surprise when the staff at the reception of our hotel suggested that we visit a place 70 kms away, which is of mythological importance. A hill station which also boasts of a place of religious relevance, that was news to us.
So again it was Google baba that came to our rescue and we discovered that indeed this place was something that could not be missed and the next day we were on our way to centuries’ old archaeological site called Lakhamandal.
The sight of Yamuna river here is one to savour. It is pristine, as clear as glass and one could spend hours at the banks of the river, without getting bored of it. No noise of unnecessary chatter, vehicles whirling or horns blaring, just the water flowing with a few birds chirping overhead and most importantly clean no garbage around !
Legends associated with Lakhamandal
This place is known for its 18th century Shiva Temple. Unlike most temple sites, this one hardly had any visitors when we went there (at least so was the case during our visit). According to the temple Priest, this is one of the first Shiva temples. According to the local person who was taking us around the place, there have been numerous Shiv Lings of various sizes found here during the excavations. The compound of the temple does indeed have many of them lined up.
There is one particular Shiv Ling outside the Sanctum Sanctorum, where one can see one’s own reflection after offering water on it.
Within the compound of the temple, there is also a section which houses a collection of old pictures of the temple and also the Pandu Lipi, which has narrations related to the Mahabharata era.
It is an unusually beautiful ancient temple which still retains its rustic and ancient look. The rows of shops selling flowers and other items were missing. There was just one shop where one could find something, if needed. From the parking lot, one has to climb a few steps to reach the temple premises. This site has also been acknowledged by the Archaeological Survey of India.
Connection to the Mahabharata
It is believed that Lakhamandal is the place where the Pandavas had the Wax Palace (Lakshagruha). The palace which Kauravas had tried to burn down in an attempt to get the Pandavas killed. There are remains of a particular structure which is believed to be a part of the Wax Palace and there are even two idols outside this structure supposedly the guards of the same.
Once you are out of the temple, a few kms drive downhill and we can find the Pandu Gufa. It is believed that this is the cave / tunnel from where the Pandavas escaped unhurt when the Wax Palace was burnt. This cave is visible while on the drive up to the temple too. There is a Shiv Ling in this cave too. It is noteworthy that while the roof of the entire cave, seems dry, there is a small icicle like formation right about the Shiv Ling from where one can find droplets of water dropping on the Shiv Ling. Not to mean that the Shiv Ling is wet from that; it may take acute and intent observation to see the droplet fall down.
Pristine Yamuna River
En route to Lakhamandal, at a particular point, there is a bridge over Yamuna river and there is also a muddy walkway down to the river. If one has time on hand, one can spend few minutes here on the banks of river Yamuna. There are pebbles of all sizes that can be found here, the water is pristine and crystal clear enabling us to see into the depth up to a certain extent.
Except for the noise of an occasional vehicle, there is only the sound of the flowing river and chirpy birds. No sound of the blaring horns, human chatter and buzz of vehicles. Pristine ice cold water with the mountains at the background, a moment to cherish.
A gentle warning though; there are no fancy restaurants en route to Lakhamandal. While crossing the towns on the way, one my find an odd eatery which may serve basic stuff like dal rice, rajma rice, pakodas, tea and coffee.
I am a thorough urban bred and have not really had a chance to visit rural India except the odd times when I get a glimpse of some place while I am en route to another destination. But my trip to Lakhamandal makes me want to visit more of such remote locations in the heart of my country. The views that such places have to offer are unbelievably beautiful and surreal at times. The beauty of the countryside and drives through the mountains (never mind the winding roads and the motion sickness) are incomparable to any man made beauty created in urban areas.
So those of you who love to visit such heritage sites, please add up Lakhamandal to your bucket list. You are sure to enjoy this trip. We had undertaken this trip prior to the pandemic. It may be a good idea to check with the local guide or hotel staff if this place is still open to tourists. Though there is hardly any reason for it not to be.
This article was originally posted in Tripoto