Where to travel
What to do this weekend?
Visit Mandi, the town of many temples in Himachal Pradesh, and explore its richly carved three protected monuments. Triloknath and Panchvaktra temples are located on the opposite banks of the Beas River. Both the temples are dedicated to different forms of Shiva. The carved grey pillars of varied sizes, barselas, the memorial stones in Ram Nagar, are huddled together in an open-air enclosure.
Who will enjoy this short adventure trip idea?
Art and architecture lovers
Travelers looking for cultural adventures
What to see in Mandi
The free-standing temple, a protected monument maintained by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), is on the right bank of the Beas River in Mandi town, Himachal Pradesh. The sixteenth century temple in Purani Mandi has a threefold significance: cultural, historical and religious. The grey stone temple, overlooking Panchvaktra Temple situated across the river, is dedicated to the lord of three worlds, Triloknath, a 3-face form of Siva.
The temple consists of a square sanctum (garbhagriha) surmounted by a tower (sikhara), vestibule (antarala) and hall for devotees (mandapa). The sanctum houses a life-size figure of 3-faced Siva. Parvati is sitting in His lap. The hall, covered with a slanting roof, is embellished with floral scrolls and miniature towers. The roof design prevents accumulation of rain and snow.
The exterior is decorated with secular and religious carvings. Ornamental sculptures include figures of kinnaras, door keepers, wrestlers and mythological musicians (gandharvas) playing veena, shahnai and mridanga, Kartikya on peacock and Ganesh on a mouse with his wives to name a few. The friezes also feature dancers and musicians. Horse riders are carved on the projecting balconies. Trefoil arch adorns the façade of the temple. Within the temple complex, big stone pillars connected with sati tradition are also on display.
The temple, built in the 15th century, is located on the confluence of the Beas River (which was earlier known as Vipasha) and its tributary Suketi Khad that rises from the Dhauladhar Range. The temple complex comprises the main temple and a temple dedicated to Batuk Bhairava. The main temple is the seat of 5-face form of Shiva. The faces represent five eternal powers: enlightenment (gyan), consciousness (chitta), action (kriya), desire (iccha) and supreme bliss (anand).
Generally, polycephalic statues feature all heads in a row. However, the five faces of Siva at the temple are not carved in one row. The fourth and fifth faces are on the reverse side and top respectively. You can see only three faces from the front. The shikhara style temple is in grey stone. The hall is supported by four thick pillars. The pillars’ capitals are decorated with flower-pot motifs, whereas the bases feature lotuses or rosettes.
Memorial stones (locally known as barselas)
Barselas, a protected monument, are memorial stones which are also known as the Sati Pillars that are erected in the honor of the women who performed sati rituals at the time of death of the king.
The royal cemetery in Ram Nagar, Mandi houses several barselas that are built in honor of the Mandi kings. The royal barselas are considered as the most impressive funeral monuments in the erstwhile Mandi State. This tradition of building funeral pillars / tablets for dead was not restricted to the royal family. However, the royal barselas were the richest and grandest. The monuments were generally erected next to a water point, because the people believed the water would quench thirst of the parched soul of the deceased.
The Mandi barselas on the Suketi River are richly carved. The height of all stones is not uniform. The stones feature different panels. In the bottom panel, mount of king is carved, then his servants including slave girls and concubines, then queen, then king and then temple shikhar. Some of these stones feature an inscription in Tankri and the date on which the king died.
(Tip: In front of Hotel Pratap Palace, near Seri Munch, the road divides into two branches. Take the road on the left. This road descends to barselas. If you take an auto rickshaw, it will stop at the hotel. Then you have to walk. )
Photography: not allowed inside the temple, but allowed within the temple complex
When to go
But July-September is a rainy season.
How to reach
Delhi ISBT Kashmiri Gate – Mandi: 475 kilometers
Chandigarh – Mandi: approximately 250 kilometers
Shimla – Mandi: about 180 kilometers
Himachal Road Transport Corporation (H.R.T.C.) runs regular buses from Delhi, Chandigarh and Shimla to Mandi.
Delhi – Mandi: The bus fare starts from INR 835 per passenger (Volvo bus), INR 622 per passenger (deluxe bus), INR 430 per passenger (semi deluxe), INR 430 per passenger (ordinary bus).
Chandigarh – Mandi: A bus ticket for this 4-6 hours journey (depending on driver’s intention and speed) costs INR 365 (AC bus) and INR 220 (ordinary bus).
Shimala – Mandi: The price of a bus ticket amounts to INR 250 (deluxe), INR 185 (semi deluxe) and INR 165 (ordinary).
Kullu Manali (Bhuntar) Airport is about 60 kilometers from Mandi Town. However, currently there is no airservice for the destination.
Nearest railway station: Joginder Nagar Railway Station (JDNX)
JDNX – Mandi: approximately 50 kilometers
Kangra Toy Train: http://www.railtourismindia.com/Trains/HillCharters/hillTravelPlanner.html
Himachal Pradesh Public Works Department (H.P.P.W.D.) rest house
The department offers basic accommodation for INR 200 per night. http://hppwd.gov.in/report_rh.asp?idno=mandi
Himachal Pradesh Forest Department rest house
The forest rest houses provide budget rooms. http://hpforest.nic.in/FRH_HP.pdf
- Hotel Azad, http://www.hotelazad.com/home.swf
- Hotel Manjul, http://www.hotelsinmandi.com/budget-hotels/hotel-manjul-mandi.html
- Hotel Raj Mahal, http://www.rajmahalpalace.com/
- Hotel River bank, http://www.hotelriverbank.net/
- Hotel Valley View, http://www.hotelvalleyview.in/
- Munish Resort http://munishresorts.com/tariff.htmlort
- The Regent Palm, http://www.theregentpalmshotel.com/
- Visco Resort, http://www.viscoresorts.com/