Kamru Nag Trek: Enroute the shrine of the Rain God
Kamru Nag, a beautiful shrine believed to be of the god of rains, lies a trek away on the Manali-Shimla highway, in the Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh. Jitaditya narrates his experience exploring the path up to the shrine, on a drizzling and misty morning.
The route was not clearly marked. I’d trusted the directions given by a school kid and moved ahead. But after an hour of gradual climb, I was steadily getting tired of the generic scenes and was no longer sure if I was on the right path. But exactly at that moment the sun got covered by clouds, a light drizzle ensued and a thick veil of mist covered everything around me.
The rain was not an issue. Seeking respite from a scorching and parched Delhi mid-summer, I enjoyed getting drenched. But low visibility made it difficult to proceed. After about half an hour of groping through the mist, I arrived at a small meadow. The route continued upwards but seeing a relatively plain stretch I decided to take a break. A sudden breeze drove the mist away and the sun reappeared. I looked around and realized that I had suddenly crossed over to an entirely different world. The human settlements of Rohanda seemed far off now. Before me lay a meadow full of pink, red and azure monsoon blossoms.
Earlier in the morning, I’d reached Rohanda from Sundernagar. It lies on the route that connects the Manali highway to Shimla and so can be approached from both sides. A small settlement with a few shops and not much else, the only reason it gets noticed is due to the shrine of Kamru Nag, the local deity believed to be the god of rains. The shrine is located amidst a dense forest atop the hill by the side of a small lake.
The trek begins from Rohanda. The initial part of the trek was marred with confusion regarding the length of the trek . According to the official signage, the trek is around 12 kms long. But most online sources placed it at roughly 7 kms. It took me forever to cover the first couple of kilometres, going by the official markers, but then it suddenly dropped by several kilometres within a short stretch. So on hindsight, the internet was right and the official markers did end up being a bit erratic.
The Ancient Forest
The flowering meadow is the point where the actual forest begins. Not another human being was to be seen beyond this point although the path appeared to be well maintained. I couldn’t help spending some luxurious time soaking up the beauty of those wild blossoms. It was soon time to resume the trek up further. The thick lower Himalayan oak forest got denser with every step. I could hear some birds but they were perched safely in the thick forest cover. Soon, the chirping of crickets drowned those of the birds. That strange symphony, coupled with the primal and dark forest made the ambiance surreal.
The shrine of Kamru Nag, the Rain God
Almost four hours since the beginning of the trek, I heard some human voices from beyond the woods. Although nothing was visible, it was enough to hurry me up. Right after the next turn, there lay the Kamru Nag Lake. It was more of a small pond with the temple and assorted buildings on the other side of it.
For solo travelers, one of the problems in visiting places of religions significance is the excessive crowd. But thankfully, it appeared that the shrine of Kamru Nag received significant footfall only during the annual Kamru Nag Festival, one that takes place on the first day of the Hindu month of Ashad (Roughly Mid June). It was July – not a single soul was to be seen inside the temple premises, not even the priest!
Anyways, I paid a visit to the temple deity. The original shrine is a very small one, supported by traditional wooden architecture typical of Himachal. According to local myths, the lake is directly connected at the bottom with Pataal (the netherworld). To me, it was a spectacularly serene and invigorating vista.
The people I heard earlier were the ones running a small shack selling tea. I inquired about other routes and a possible further trek to the shrine of Shikari Devi. But they advised against it considering the length and state of the route. Deciding on the wisdom that lay in trudging back, I took the same way back and spent the night at a nameless but comfortable lodge at Rohanda. I still want to visit Shikari Devi but she will have to wait till I make another trip to the region.
Kamru Nag is located in the Mandi District of Himachal Pradesh. Buses to Rohanda are available from the bigger towns like Sundernagar or Mandi, which lie on the Delhi-Manali route. Very basic food and lodging can be found in Rohanda. The trek begins at Rohanda and the ascent takes 2-4 hours depending on your fitness level. While the monsoon scenery is sumptuous, you can also consider a winter trek when everything gets covered in snow.
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