“If you want to see more and better, you need to walk. These motorcycles and these four-wheelers’ will not take you far. Your feet surely will”, said my friend and an experienced trekker to me.
“Once you have climbed a mountain, you will find a story. Once you find that story, you will discover several other stories related to the previous one. And that’s when it will dawn upon you that the more you see, the less you know. And for that to happen, you need to walk.” , he explained.
My chance encounter with the German couple in Keylang lead me to the beautiful Shukdev Mandir in the Outer Seraj region of Mandi across the Left Bank of River Beas. And that discovery lead to another one, which landed me at Thatta, this time across the Right Bank of River Beas.
You need to keep you eyes and ears open, always. That’s how stories are woven. That’s how the beauty of Himalaya is unearthed.
The temple at Thatta is constructed in Pagoda Style with a multi-tier design and a conical rooftop that is decorated all along its periphery. Although it is said that both the Shukdev Temples, one at Bhadungi (Hanogi) and other at Thatta are identical but that’s not entirely true.
But if we do not get into architectural details, both these temples look alike and except for the yellow flag placed outside the Bhadungi (Hanogi) temple, there are no other differentiating markers.
Both the temples have a long corridor along its three sides and the fourth side is the wooden entrance decorated with wooden carvings and stone patterns.
As we entered the temple, we saw a group of women, their faces veiled, which is a rare sight in the Himalaya. The moment we entered inside, we saw two more women sleeping on the floor, their heads too covered and none of them were talking. Not even to each other. A couple of them were sleeping even inside the the ‘garbh griha’ (sanctum sanctorum), all this turned out to be an awkward experience for us.
The corridor rooms were locked and I wonder if those veiled men and women were sleeping inside those rooms too? The womenfolk were not wearing the regular salwar but instead they had tied bedsheets like a dhoti or lungi in place of salwars.
I wanted to dig deep but I couldn’t muster enough courage to ask questions. Moreover, if they were observing a ceremony, it would have been indecent to poke my nose into their private affairs.
Anyhow, it takes not more than three hours from Thatta to reach at the heavenly Parashar Lake. Interestingly, Rishi Parashar is believed to be the grandfather of Shukdev Rishi.
The temple at Thatta is well connected to road and even a new construction has come up in the heart of the village, which is entirely different than its ancient counterpart. The new temple has a square roof and its superstructure rests upon a massive foundation made of stone, wood, and mortar.
Usually these temples were built using the locally available material and expertise, but these days in the name of modernization, glazed tiles and marble-granite have replaced the traditional kath-kunni architecture style.
More about that in the next post.
The old temple, which is also known as Dehra, stands atop a flat ridge overlooking the Badar region. The glissading mountain ranges emerging from the highlands of Parashar Lake surround this village and a foggy evening is a usual routine here across the year.
How To Reach?
Pandoh – Shiva – Thatta – (10-5-6 km)
The road leading to the temple branches off from the Pandoh town, just next to the HRTC dhaba towards the left. The last five kilometers leading up to the village are nothing less than a nightmare on a rainy day. And even on a bright sunny day, you will have to focus real hard to drive through the rocky patches en-route.
I tried my luck last year too but unfortunately I returned from the village itself because I had no clue about the existence of this ancient wooden wonder back then.
After a long wait of one year, we tried our luck again but we could not make it to the temple as the oil hose line of our prehistoric Maruti 800 caught fire and we had to drag the car for 15 kilometer.
And when finally it happened, it was nothing less than a heartwarming experience.