Aadi Himani Chamunda Pilgrimage Trek
During my tenure as a telecom engineer in Dharamshala way back in 2007, I was always remain fascinated with the big & mighty Dhauladhar ranges. But due to the type of my job I was not able to hike any one of them. Triund trek was very famous among Indians & foreigners but I couldn’t go there. One of my friend & batch mate Tapesh who is an entrepreneur & now has been settled in Dhramashala used to go to the Aadi Himani Chamunda twice a year to get the blessings of the goddess Chamunda. I was quite surprised by how he used to complete the pilgrimage at a height of 3185 meters in a single day. During my stay in Dharamshala, I couldn’t hike any of the mountains. But after moving to Shimla one day Tapesh called me & invited me to participate in the pilgrimage at the auspicious time of Navratras. It was my unfulfilled dream so I agreed to visit the Himani Chamunda.
Aadi Himani Chamunda Temple is located on a hilltop North East to the existing Chamunda Devi Temple in Kangra District of Himachal Pradesh. Aadi Himani Chamunda temple stands close to the ruins of the palace of Raja Chandra Bhan Chand Katoch, and is of least the same age, if not far older. As per the sayings goddess, Chamunda killed two demons Chand and Mund from the top of the mountain by throwing huge boulders on them, one can still find one of the boulders above the Shiva Temple located near existing Chamunda Devi Temple on Dharamshala Palampur state highway. The recent temple build in the past decade was destroyed by the fierce fire in 2014 and now it has been under reconstruction again with the help of devotees and Temple Trust.
I decided to go via the HRTC bus as Shimla to Dharamshala distance is approx 235 Km. I prefer to drive but due to poor road conditions, I dropped that idea. The bus I boarded took almost 8 hours to reach Dharamshala due to bad road conditions. I reached my friend Tapesh’s home at around 8 PM. We had our dinner & then went to sleep so that in the morning we have to get early.
The next morning I woke up early had a bath & I didn’t take my breakfast as I decided to eat only after reaching the Temple & after performing Pooja. There was a surprise two of my old friends Madhur & Milan were also accompanying us along with his cousin & his friends. So that was going to be a different type of pilgrimage & treking also. So, at last, we started at about 7 AM from Dharamshala & reached Jadrangal in about half an hour. Some of the group members wanted to go from this side, from here temple was around 13 KM having the facility of water in between. But other members were pushing to follow the easy track which was from Jia from here total distance was around 9 KM .finally after small chit chat we decided to go by Jia side. We reached Jia around 8 AM & after filling our bottles with water we started our journey to the Holy temple. On the way, we had a great Indian laughter challenge type feeling as Anshul & Milan who had a great sense of humor were cracking jokes one after another. After completing around one-third of the track we had a very beautiful view of the dam of Jia power project .we took some rest & had some snacks.
As forest cover was diminishing, it was difficult for us to move swiftly in the scorching heat of Sun. We were moving very slowly. As we were moving upwards we had a fantastic view of the villages of Dharamshala & Palampur. Dhauladhar ranges were also looking amazingly beautiful. After the continuous ascent of around 5 hours, we, at last, reached the Temple of Aadi Himani Chamunda. The view from the top was splendid. As the old temple was burnt so we offered our prayer in new temporary premises of goddess Durga.
A new temple was under construction. Artisan from Kinnaur had been working there who were experts in making woodcraft. Due to snowfall temple remains closed from November to April month. After performing pooja we went to a nearby temple, there was a small shiva lingam that had no roof. Then we went to the Sarai We had our lunch inside the Sarai & tea was also served to us. We sat there for half an hour. There was so much peace as mighty Dhauladhar was very near to us. We could see the Triund the most famous track area of Dharamshala from the top. The atmosphere was so serene that nobody wants to go back but as we had to go back so we started our return journey at around 2.30 PM. Paragliders were flying in the sky they were looking amazingly beautiful. One dog started following us from the temple I christened his name “Sheru ” he remained with us till we reached the starting point of the village Jia at 6.30 PM. We were all very thirsty as no water was available throughout that track. At Jia, we quenched our thirst by drinking plenty of water. We said goodbye to him & started back to Dharamshala. It was a great track which was also a pilgrimage to Goddess Durga aadi Himani Chamunda.we were all very contented with the journey. It was my first journey to Dhauladhars & I enjoyed it a lot.
By : Sachin Bhardwaj, Himachal Pradesh