John Keats has very aptly said that ‘a thing of beauty is a joy forever’. Confucius added, saying that everything has its beauty but not everyone sees it. In fact, man is so engrossed in his earthly activities that he has ‘no time to stand and stare’. Beauty is the fond child of ‘Love’; it lives within every human being and is his constant companion. Any good soul that carves to witness the heavenly beauty and the earthly beauty must pay a visit to Chamba to find them, interacting together.
The spiritual concept of ‘Sundaram’ or beauty is to move from recognizing beauty outside to beauty within. A sincere watch of beautiful scenery makes a person’s eyes to shut and the viewer sinks into that ocean of beauty. Similarly, smelling of a fragrant flower or listening to a beautiful music makes a person to get lost in the formless divinity within. A visit to Chamba, a district in Himachal Pradesh, located at an altitude of 13, 500 feet in the Pir Panjal range of Himalayas ensures this divine experience.
Lord Shiva is also known as Ashutosh because he can be appeased easily. Shiva is the supreme reality and the eternal consciousness that resides within all. Mount Kailash in Himalayas is considered the holy abode of Shiva. By reaching to the oval-shaped, glacier-fed Manimahesh Lake, devotees can see Mount Kailash and offer prayers to Lord Shiva. Every year, more than eight lakh devotees undertake the arduous journey of 14 km from the base camp of Hadsar to reach to the Manimahesh lake in Chamba.
Manimahesh Lakethe lake in Chamba attracts tourists for the annual festival, ‘Radhastami’, the birthday celebration of Lord Krishna’s Radha, celebrated during September. This lake is second only in its religious significance to the sacred Manasrovar Lake in Tibet, Sati is consort of Lord Shiva. Places where parts of her body are worshipped are known as ‘Shakti Peeth’ and draw attraction of devotes who find it a mean to appease Lord Shiva. The Surkanda Devi Temple is one such ‘Shakti Peeth’ which is located in Tehri district, 22 km away from Chamba. From this location, tourists can take views of Dehradoon and Rishikesh. Added to these, tourists throng here to enjoy the ‘Ganga Devi Dusserah’ that is celebrated during May and June.
The earthly beauty, Tehri Dam is a twenty minute drive from Chamba. It had drawn much of media attention few years back, for agitation called by Megha Patekar, against increasing of the height of the dam, for environmental reasons. Tehri Dam, constructed on the confluence of rivers Bhagirathi and Bhilangana, is the fifth largest in the world.
Visiting Chamba is a must for adventure lovers because it provides ample facilities for snow skiing, rafting and river crossing on the rivers Ravi and Sal. River excursions also are conducted by private and government run organizations. Other places of religious interest are Lakshmi Narayana temple, Chamunda Devi temple and the Scottish Church.
Chamba is the most ideal place where tourists can experience the trinity, Satyam-Shivam-Sundaram and get the holy bliss for a recharged and re-energized life.