Manimahesh Kailash is considered a major pilgrimage in Hinduism. Manimahesh Kailash is also known as Chamba Kailash. It is believed that Manimehash Kailash is the abode of Lord Shiva. Manimehash Kailash is a peak with a height of 5,653 meters (18,574 ft). It is considered a popular trekking destination in Himachal Pradesh. Manimahesh Kailash is located in Bharmour subdivision of Chamba district in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. The peak is 26 kms from Bharmour in the Budhil Valley.
Manimahesh Lake is at the base of Mount Kailash at an altitude of 3,950 meters (12,960 ft) and is also worshiped by the people of Himachal Pradesh, especially the Gaddi tribe of the region. Every year, on the eighth day of the light crescent (half moon) in the month of Bhadrapada, a fair is held at this lake, which attracts hundreds of thousands of pilgrims, who assemble to take a dip in the holy waters. Lord Shiva is the main deity of this fair.
It is also believed that Manimahesh Kailash is invincible as no one has ever climbed it, despite claims to the contrary and the fact that much higher peaks including Mount Everest have been conquered. According to a legend, a local tribe, a Gaddi, tried to make the climb with a herd of sheep and were believed to be turned to stone along with their sheep. A series of smaller peaks around the main peak are believed to be the remains of a shepherd and his sheep.
Manimahesh Yatra is always organized in the months of August and September from Krishna Janmashtami to Radhashtami. While most of the pilgrims start their journey from Hadsar near Bharmour, the actual journey starts from Lakshmi Narayan Temple and Dashnami Akhara in Chamba. Pilgrims have to register themselves at Chamba before being allowed to proceed further. Presently buses ply till Hadsar. Those who start their trek from Hadsar.
Between Hadsar and Manimahesh there is an important halting place known as Dhancho where pilgrims usually spend the night. There is a beautiful waterfall here.
About a kilometer before Manimahesh Lake, there are two water bodies of religious importance, Gauri Kund and Shiv Krotri, where according to popular belief, Gauri and Shiva took a bath respectively. Before leaving for Manimahesh Lake, female pilgrims take a holy dip at Gauri Kund and male pilgrims at Shiv Krotri.
The peak is visible from near Manimahesh Lake. There are two trekking routes to the lake. One is from Hadsar village where most of the pilgrims and trekkers come. The distance from Hadsar to Dhancho is about 6 kms. The distance of Dhanchon from Gauri Kund is 6 kms. The distance of Manimahesh Lake from Gauri Kund is about 1 kilometer. The second route, Village Holi, climbs further up and then descends to the lake. There is no other settlement on this route except a small village.
There are many mythological legends about the sanctity of the Manimahesh Kailash peak and the lake at its base.
In a popular legend, it is believed that Lord Shiva created Manimahesh after marrying Goddess Parvati, who is worshiped as Mata Girija. There are many other legends connecting Lord Shiva and his displeasure through avalanches and snow storms that occur in the region.
According to a local residents, Lord Shiva is believed to reside in Manimahesh Kailash. A rock formation in the form of a Shivling on this mountain is believed to be a form of Lord Shiva. The snow field at the base of the mountain is called Shiva's Chaigan by the local people.
Another legend is told that a snake also tried to climb the mountain but failed and turned into stone. Devotees believe that they can visit the peak only when the Lord wishes. Bad weather covering the peak with clouds is also explained as displeasure of the god.