The Himalayas and its stories have always inspired me. I have always been enamoured with the stories of Himalayan saints who not only made these inhabitable mountains their home but also blessed these mountains with spiritual energy. I firmly believe that today’s deities were all once mortal beings like us who attained Godly status through their deeds.
One such deity is the Rain God of Mandi, Kamru Nag Devta.
Pilgrimage to Shikari Devi and Kamru Mandir is usually made separately but the locals often make this journey in one go. While KamruNag Mandir is located near Rohanda Village, the Shikari Devi shrine is located near Janjehli Village.
Indians travel around the year and we have a grand pilgrimage for every season in our country. However, it’s not possible for people from Himachal to perform the Narmada Parikrama, or head towards the Mount Kailash Yatra because that demands time, energy, and superhuman efforts at both the physical and mental level.
So every region or state has its own pilgrimage that equals the grand pilgrimages of the country. Kamru to Shikari Trek is one such pilgrimage of our region. Kamru Nag is famous for an ancient wooden mandir and a lake whereas the Shikari Devi Mandir is popular for its unique location and roofless structure. Kamrunag MandiThe roofless shrine of Shikari Devi is nestled in the shadows of the mighty Himalayas.
Rohanda, a small village along the Mandi – Shimla State Highway (SH-13) serves as the start point for the Kamrunag Trek. There are a couple of hotels and dhabas in Rohanda. You can park your vehicle at the roadside and expect it to be there as long as you are gone. Although the signboards mention distance between Rohanda and Kamrunag as 9-12 kilometre, it is certainly not more than 7 km. It takes not more than 2-3 hours to reach at the top. Every year, a festival is organized here during the 1st day of Ashadh Month (Indian Calendar), 14-15 June according to the Gregorian Calendar.
Kamru Nag is considered to be the rain god of the Mandi region and every year before the start of the summer season, not only the mandir priest but also the members of the local administration visit the mandir to pray for a good crop season. There is a lake alongside the mandir where devotees
throw make their offerings in the form of currency, coins, and jewellery. Although the mandir authorities strictly warn against throwing currency notes into the lake but that doesn’t stop the devotees.
Indian devotees, in my opinion, usually don’t rationalize their religious preferences because they are scared. Scared of GOD knows what!
Long ago when this practice of making monetary offerings to the deity started, there was no concept of currency notes. Now that the times have changed, what’s the use of throwing a paper note into water? Coins of larger denominations are not available and to make a substantial offering, people throw notes of 100, 500, and sometimes even 1000 into the lake. Although it is said that money is never taken out of the lake, I refuse to believe that such is the case. I am pretty sure that the mandir authorities have been making good use of this money since whenever this practice started.
Although the entire forest belongs to the deity, a specific area is marked as the exclusive territory of the deity called as Khunda. Earlier devotees would walk barefoot from Khunda to the top of the lake, which was as much as 5 km. There are three khunda gates as you approach the lake, one towards the Shikari Mandir, one towards Rohanda, and one towards the Jalpa Mandir side.
It took me 110 minutes to reach atop the Kamru Lake and there from another five hours to reach at the Shikari Devi shrine. There are plenty of stay options at the Shikari Devi Mandir , cheapest being the mandir accommodation. Also there is a trekker’s hut maintained by the forest department. You can also stay at the shops or hire a quilt/blanket from them at a nominal fee.
The walk from Kamrunag to Shikari Mandir is a level but long walk. It must be a 15-17 km long walk with a well marked trail all along. The roofless shrine is visible throughout the walk and on a bright sunny day, you also get to see the marvels of the Pir Panjal Himalayas. Prominent peaks that are visible from this trail are Deo Tibba, Indrasan, and Paapsura – Dharmsura.
As it is basic human nature to relate his/her story to something that’s popular, particularly in the religious context. Likewise, Kamrunag Mandir as well as the Shikari shrine are said to have existed since the Mahabharat era. It is also said that there have been numerous attempts to construct a roof for the mandir but the goddess wouldn’t allow it. The goddess is worshipped in the form of a stone idol and there are numerous stone idols kept inside the mandir.
Another alternate approach towards the lake and the roofless shrine is via Devdarh Village. This trail is relativly tough but you get to walk through a lush green forest and there are terraced fields all around. This valley is known as the Jiuni Valley, a sub-valley of the Janjehli Valley. The trail from the Devdarh Village lands you right in the middle of the Shikari – Kamru trail.
I decided to stay at the Mandir Saray and got a warm quilt from the local shopkeeper for INR 30 that kept me warm throughout the night. The mountains were no longer visible from the mandir and I kept waiting for a glimpse of the mountains.
A kutcha road connects the Shikari Mandir with the Janjehli Town. One can also walk through the forest that takes not more than 2 hours. I decided to walk through this forest, which is well marked and has gaddi hutments as landmarks, in case you go astray. There is a huge cave enroute popularly known as Budha Kedar but unfortunately I could not reach there. I tried not to follow the conventional path and tried to cut short my walk by jumping over the cliffs.
And as they say, there are no short cuts! I ended up injuring my leg and missed the Budha Kedar as well.
Also, I met Neeraj Jat, a good friend and a pioneer of the Hindi Blogging World. An eventful journey it was.
Kamru Valley Guest House, Rohanda 9459876719 | Trekker’s Hostel, Janjehli 9817212090.
Trekker’s Hostel at Janjehli has a dormitory as well as double bed rooms. Charges are INR 300 and 550 respectively.
Amit Tiwary undertook this journey from Kamru Nag to Shikari Devi in January 2018 and he was kind enough to share his .gpx files with us. He reported that Kamru -Shikari Devi distance is 16km whereas Shikari Devi to Janjehli via Budha Kedar turns out to be 11km.
Download .gpx files: Kamru-Shikari-Budha Kedar-Janjehli Trek