For those seeking a break from humdrum life Sarahan in the Himalayas can offer the best with it's divine milieu of history, mythology, spirituality and ineffable scenic beauty.

The earliest sound of an ideal day in Sarahan is not the call of the Himalayan bird that leaves its nest as soon as the first rays of the sun washes over the horizon of Mount Sreekhand, but the rather unusual sound of instruments played by the custodian of the temple of Goddess Bheemakali. The sound is reminiscent of the Buddhist gongs and trumpets and completely different from the cognizable Hindu cymbals and bells. It marks the time to say “Good morning “to life. This is also the time to bow before Goddess Bheemakali of Sarahan.

Sarahan is a small hamlet in the lap of the Himalayas in Himachal Pradesh — a place of pristine beauty, unaffected by the atrocities modern life. The whole place exudes a medieval aura; it wakes up from its slumber exactly like the princess described in folk tales. This awakening of nature is gradual, almost like the rising notes of Bhairav Raga.

The place is not just a mark on the map; its heritage and history go a long way back, into the fort of mythology. This village, which was the summer capital of Bussahir royal family, is also a ‘Shaktipeeth’,one of the most sacred places for a devoted Hindu. It is believed that when Lord Shiva was performing tandava,his apocalyptical dance of death by holding the dead body of his wife Sati on his shoulder, Lord Vishnu unleashed his Sudarshana Chakra to sever Sati’s body into many parts, to appease Shiva’s anger. The mythology says that Sati’s ears fell at a place in the Himalayas which was named as Shronitapur, meaning ’the city of sound’.Through the passage of time and dialectical shifts, Shronitapur is now called Sarahan.

The descendents of the Bussahir clan proudly call themselves the successors of the mythological demon Banasura whose r. Anirudha approached Banasura to seek the hand of his daugeference we can find in the Mahabharata. The epic contains a story that Banasura’s beautiful daughter Usha got emotionally involved with Aniruddha, the grandson of Lord Krishnahter but that made Banasura furious. It culminated into a war where Krishna and Lord Shiva got involved. Finally, Usha and Aniruddha got married at the Bheemakali temple. Some local legends have it that Bheema, the second Pandav, established this Kali temple here.

Vajrajana Buddhism engulfed India from the end of 6thcentury and its path from Tibet to the heartland of India passed through this region. It deeply influenced the temple’s architecture. The pagoda looking temple is a wonderful blend of stone, mortar and wood. The wooden crafts on its tower and roof are marvelous. The golden gate of the temple is brilliant, while the idol of Parvati presently prevailing in sanctum sanctorum is more than 200 years old. Temples of Narasingha, Raghunath, Usha and Shreekhanda Mahadev are significant among other temples within the premises. The temple even houses a small museum.

Bheemakali temple was once infamous for human sacrifice following the Shakti cult. However, that barbaric system is long abolished but animal sacrifices, especially during Durga puja still take place. On Mahashtami day, an animal is sacrificed and a special prayer to Devi is conducted by members of the royal family and this attracts huge number of subjects from near villages. Even larger congregations gather at the temple on Dashami, the final day of the puja. Local music and dance are performed with great pomp and gaiety.

Next to the temple is the royal palace of Bussahir family. Though it is no more open to the public, but just a look at the gate is enough to make one realize the beauty of the stone and wood building. It is not merely temples and a palace for which Sarahan is famous for. The breathtaking panorama of the Himalayas visible from this place n is perhaps the main attraction today.

Known as the gateway of Kinnar, Sarahan offers to every visitor the opportunity to enjoy the wild beauty of 1850 meters high Mount Shreekhand and the Kartik Swami peak. There is not a single dull moment in that paradise, rather if one seeks a break from humdrum life in the Himalayas with a touch of history, mythology, spirituality and of course, ineffable scenic beauty, Sarahan can offer the best with its divine milieu.

This article was published in The Statesman on 4th June 2017

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