In our previous post, we explored the Aadi Brahma Mandir’s of Mandi and Kullu. Keeping the exploration alive, we today walk through deep forests of the Kullu & Sainj Valleys to find two more Brahma Mandir’s in Himachal Pradesh.
Unlike the other two mandirs being talked about in the previous post (Khokhan and Tihri), today’s temples are not located on the road-heads. The Kanoun Mandir in Sainj Valley is half an hour away from the nearest road-head, on foot. The Rohalgi Mandir is located in Rohalgi Village, an hour’s walk away from the famous Khokhan Brahma Mandir.
Aadi Brahma of Kanoun, Sainj
During our last trip to the majestic grasslands of Shangchul Mahadev, we got to know about the Kanoun Mandir, which is off the main track, some 10 kilometer deep inside the jungle. Kanoun is a small village in the Sainj Valley and recently a road has been constructed here. There are two Brahma Mandir’s in this village, a new construction and an ancient wooden structure. The wooden structure is in a dilapidated state. From the looks, it appears that the villagers tried to restore and retrofit the structure but eventually they decided to construct a modern-age concrete structure resting on wooden beams.
The old structure is a marvel of Himalayan architecture. The tower may remind you of the famous Chaini Tower of Banjar Valley. However, the Kanoun Tower is not as grand as the Chaini Tower but its quite a spectacle. The tower is almost 30 meters tall and it rests on wooden beams and stone plinth. Throughout its height, the tower is made of alternate layers of wooden beams and stone masonry work. In the Kullu Valley, particular in the Seraj Region, you will find many ancient mandir and old houses constructed in the same style, an artistic combo of stone masonry and wooden beams at corners.
The tower was constructed in different levels and layers with each level serving a different purpose. There was even a pit within the structure that was used to store essential items. Today, the tower has been damaged beyond repairs. A major portion of this tower was destroyed in the fire that further demotivated the villagers and the administration to restore this structure.
The ancient Himalayan architecture was not only aesthetics but it also meant stability. These structures were made earthquake resistant considering the geography of the region. Today, this very fact, that these mandirs have a long life, has prolonged the agony of this structure. Nobody comes to its restoration and it doesn’t fall on its own.
The new temple has been constructed just next to the tower mandir. The gate of the temple adorns a beautiful image of Brahma. The walls of the temple are painted yellow, blue and, green, which give it a unique look. There is a huge veranda where yagyas and prayers are performed. The colourful walls of the mandir against the backdrop of thick pine forest are a sight to behold.
Aadi Brahma of Rohalgi and the Nagni Saur
Both the mandir and the saur (lake) are in the vicinity of the Brahma Mandir of Khokhan. The Nagni Saur is a small lake hidden amidst a thick pine forest. The lake offers a magnificent view of the towering mountains of the Pir Panjals, especially the Deo Tibba and Indrasan twins.
The lake is called Nagni Saur as it is dedicated to the Nag Devta where as Aadi Brahma of Rohalgi is the presiding deity of the entire region.
The deity visits the lake during the festival season, which starts on 2 Baisakh (Indian calendar) and lasts for a couple of days. It is believed that sighting a snake atop the lake is a lucky sign and brings prosperity. Probably this was the ancient way of preserving snakes as we ‘now’ know that only 13% of entire species of snakes are venomous. Our ancestors probably knew better than us.
A half an hour walk from the lake and you reach at the seat of the presiding deity of the region; the Aadi Brahma of Rohalgi. The old mandir has been demolished and a new fancy structure has been erected in its place. The new mandir is made of wood with a concrete lined veranda in the front.
The problem with not preserving ancient structures is that it requires expertise and patience. Our administration can provide the money but not the expertise. Also its easy to construct concrete structures.
However, we are losing our art in the name of modernization because our temples were just not about religion. Our temples also meant imaginative woodwork, aesthetic yet structurally stable constructions, and not to mention the artistic paintings of our temples. The new temples are just fancy buildings and they are nowhere close to their ancient counterparts. And that’s where our administration needs to focus its efforts.
How To Reach
Kanoun Brahma Mandir – Aut – Banjar Bridge – Salbar – Kanoun – (on foot) Brahma Mandir (15-10-5-2 KM)
Nagni Saur – Brahma Mandir– Bhunter – Khokhan – (on foot) Nagni Saur – (on foot) Rohalgi Mandir – (on foot) Khokhan (10 – 5 – 2 – 4 KM)
There is a shop at the starting point of the trail to Nagni Saur and you can call him to ask for food or stay arrangements. I have been advised that a winter trek to the Nagni Saur is an awe-inspiring experience. Dinay – 98053 46356