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Sirmour

SIRMAUR

Himachal Pradesh is not only the land of snow and high mountains but also has lower hills known as Shiwalik, where too the tourists can spend their vacations, see the wonders of nature like the big lakes, wild life parks/ sanctuaries and the fossil parks etc. One such area is district Sirmaur, where a triangle of 3 important tourist places namely Nahan, Renuka and Paonta Sahib, have attracted many tourists all round the year. There are many attractions available in this triangle. One can visit these places either in the order we have explained or first visit Renuka then Nahan and lastly Paonta Sahib from Shimla side or the vice versa.

NAHAN

The first in the triangle is the town of Nahan situated on an isolated ridge in the Shiwalik hills, overlooking greenfields. Nahan is a well laid-out picturesque town, known for its cleanliness and dust free streets. Saint and princes are linked with the origin of Nahan. The city was founded as a capital by Raja Karan Prakash in 1621. Another version recalls a saint who lived with a companionable Nahar on the site where the Nahan palace now stands "Nahar" means a Lion and probably the town takes its name from this saint. Nahan situated at an altitude of 932 meters, is a good base for visits to the surrounding areas viz. Renuka, Paonta Sahib, Trilokpur temple and the Suketi Fossil Park. It has a pleasant climate throughout the year and is watered by man made lake and decorated with temples and gardens. It is the headquarter of Sirmaur district.

GENERAL INFORMATION

ALTITUDE 932 meters
AREA 2825 sq km
POPULATION 4.58 lakh
TEMPERATURE Max. 38°C Min. 6°C

CLOTHING: Cotton clothes in Summer and light woolens in winter.

LANGUAGE: Hindi, Punjabi, English are understood and spoken by the people engaged in tourism trade.

APPROACH

RAIL: The nearest railway stations are Ambala, Chandigarh and Kalka which are connected by a  regular bus service.

ROAD: Nahan is approachable from many directions by road

  1. via Dehra Dun ( U.P.) through Paonta Sahib
  2. via Kala-Amb from Haryana and
  3. via Solan from Shimla ( H.P.)

There are regular bus services linking it to the other towns like Manali, Delhi and Haridwar.

WHAT TO SEE     

NAHAN TOWN: There gently level walks; Villa Round, Military Round and Hospital Round are evocative of the city's past. The hub of Nahan's activities is Chaugan, Bikram Bagh and Khadar-Ka-Bagh. Gift shops, Rosin & Turpine factory and local temples are among the other major attractions. Nahan celebrates Bawan Dwadshi towards the end of the monsoon when fifty two idols of local gods are carried in procession to Jagannath temple where they are floated ceremoniously in a pool and are restored at midnight to their niches. In the heart of Nahan town is Rani Tal, where a large temple and a tank from the days of ex-rulers of Sirmaur State can be seen. Ducks and Cranes are seen playing in the Ranital Tank, and Ranital Garden further adds to the charm.

SUKETI FOSSIL PARK: Suketi Fossil Park displays life size fiberglass model of pre-historic animals whose fossil, skeletons were unearthed here. The park is first of its kind in Asia to be developed at the actual site where fossils were discovered. At a distance of 21 kms. from Nahan, the Suketi Fossil Park is located on the bank of Markanda river and is approachable by a link road 4 kms. from Kala-Amb from Haryana. Located on upper and middle Shiwaliks, consisting mainly of soft sandstone and clay rocks, the park at present has six sets of life-size models of Stegodonganesa (extinct grand elephant) Sivatherium, Hexaprotodon-Sivalensis (hippopotamus with six incisors), Colosschelys Atlas (giant land tortoise and chelonia), Paramachaerdus (Sabre Toothed tiger) and Crocodilia the animals which once thrived in the region.

The Shiwalik formations contain one of the world's richest collection of mammalian fossils. From a study of these fossils, it has been possible for the palaeontologists to probe into the mysteries of evolution of prehistoric life and the climate and environment of these periods which go back to Jurassic era, nearly 8.5 million years ago. The Shiwalik deposits are unsurpassed in the world for the richness of the fauna they entomb. Around this park, plantation work by Horticulture Department has been done which makes the surroundings quite charming.

The other major attraction is the Museum which contains various fossils, models, charts and paintings relating to the various aspects of plants and animals life of the past and present in Shiwalik range. For refreshment, the HPTDC has a cafeteria a Tourist Information Centre is established there by the Himachal Government.

TRILOKPUR TEMPLE: It was built in 1573 by Raja Dip Prakash. It is situated at a distance of 23 kms. from Nahan and 6 kms. from Kala-Amb, the gateway to Nahan from Haryana. Trilokpur is a place of great religious importance. The temple of the goddess Mahamaya Bala Sundri is very famous and attracts lakhs of pilgrims from all over Northern India, especially from Haryana and Himachal. A fair is held twice an year during the Navratras in April and October when a large number of devotees visit this temple and pay their respects to the goddess. This place is approachable by bus and taxi.

DHAULA KUAN: On the road to Paonta Sahib 20 kms. from Nahan, it is worth while to stop and see a sprawling orchard consisting of citrus plants and mangoes and a fruit canning factory of various kinds of juices, jams, pickles and canned fruits. A little away from Dhaula Kuan is Kastasan Devi temple where Raja Jagat Singh defeated the advancing army of Rulam Quadir Rohilla in a great battle. Their victory is commemorated in the Devi Temple, built in gratitude by the Raja. Dhaula Kuan also has a research station of HP KVV where useful research on tropical fruits is carried out.

GIRI NAGAR: Situated at a distance of 7 kms. from Dhaula Kuan, this town has a power house of 60 MW capacity constructed after diverting the Giri river through a 6 kms. tunnel.

PAONTA SAHIB

The second in the triangle is Paonta Sahib, a city sacred to the memory of Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru of the Sikhs. Paonta to Renuka is one arm of the triangle. The road passes through Sataun and follows the Giri River along the beautiful scenery. Situated on the Yamuna River, Paonta Sahib is a bustling township with growing industries. It is one of the important places for the Sikhs. It retains tangible memories of Guru Gobind Singh in the form of his weapons and a majestic Gurudwara. It recalls his presence even in the name of the city which is derived from Paonta meaning "foot", either because he set foot on this place or, according to an alternate story, he lost an ornament which he wore on his foot called "Paonta" while bathing in the Yamuna river.

Legend surrounds the ruins of the old capital of the Raja. Sirmouri Tal, not very far from Paonta Sahib was destroyed by the curse of a court dancer when the Raja went back on an oath to give half of this kingdom in case she crossed a narrow gorge on a rope. This, she did but the wily Raja the offered her the entire kingdom if she could dance her way back. She started back but as she was half way across, he cut the rope hurling the helpless girl into the stream. Floods followed which swept away the city, the Raja and the royal house, as a result of dancer's curse. Vishawkarma temple and few other Hindu temples are also located in Paonta Sahib. The water of river Yamuna is being dammed down stream of Paonta which will soon have a water reservoir where water sports will be organised.

APPROACH

ROAD: Paonta Sahib is easily approachable from Nahan (45 kms.) and there is regular bus service connecting the places. One can also come from other route by bus or car/taxi connecting Dehra Dun (45 kms.), Haridwar (117 kms.) and Shimla (180 kms.).

WHOM TO CONTACT

Manager, Hotel Yamuna of HPTDC

ACCOMMODATION

There is adiquate accommodation in Paonta Sahib. There is a HPTDC Hotel Yamuna, PWD Rest House, SFDA Bhawan, Gurudwara, Gita Bhawan, Citizen Hotel, Mata Bala Sundri Sarai, Daulat Hotel and Ganga Niwas Hotel.

WHAT TO SEE

GURUDWARA: Overlooking the Yamuna river is the Gurudwara where Guru Gobind Singh held court and wrote the major portion of the Dassam Granth. On the river bank behind the gurudwara stands the historical temple of Yamuna ji, and besides it the Ma Yamuna Bal Park which has a huge statue of goddess Yamuna and busts of Mahatma Gandhi, Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru and Dr. Y.S. Parmar, the first Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh. Next to the Park, a gorgeous replica of the Sanchi Ashoka Pillar overlooking the town and the river Yamuna can be seen. On the other side of Yamuna river is Uttar Pradesh.

OLD TEMPLES: Other places of interest around Paonta Sahib are the Patanjali Jyotirlinga Temple, said to have been worshipped by Maharishi Patanjali, a disciple of Maharishi Vyas-the author of epic Mahbharat. Shiva temple at Shivpuri (8 kms.), Bhadarkali temple and Tirgarhi gurudwars at Bhagani and Gangvaha Tirth across the Yamuna where Gangaji crossed over the Yamuna bank to please Rishi Gautam, the husband of the legendary Sati Ahilya. On The Himachal side of the Yamuna Bank near Gangavaha Tirth is Rampur Ghat, which legend associates with the crossing of river Yamuna by Lord Ram on a boat.

At Paonta Sahib, to the right of Yamuna bridge, stands the Dei-Ka-Mandir, constructed about a century ago by the sister of the then Raja of Sirmaur to propitiate Lord Ram, the family deity of the Suryavanshi Sirmauri Rulers.

SAHASTRA DHARA: At this place there is a confluence of river Yamuna and Tons. This is a beautiful place and a paradise for tourists Nearby is village Kalsi, 25 kms. from here, which was the old capital of Sirmaur. At this place there is an Ashok Rock Edict which is worth a visit.

KHODRI DAK PATHAR: It is beautiful picnic spot just 25 kms. from Paonta. There is a beautiful park, a swimming pool and a tourist bungalow. At this place the torrential river Yamuna has been tamed into an artificial lake. While going from Paonta to Khodri one will be delighted to have the canal side drive. Chhibran power house is an unique sight to see as the entire structure has been built underground.

KAFOTA: Situated at a height of 1804 meters and 42 kms. from Paonta Sahib on Jagadhari-Markanda road, is village Kafota which has a salubrious climate and hold potential for picnic. There is a PWD Rest House for comfortable stay. 18 kms. from Paonta Sahib is Rajban Cement Factory. A few kms. from Rajban is Kamrau, the biggest village of Sirmaur district known for rich lime stone quarries. At this place there is a Tilordhar Tibetan Colony with its Buddisht monastery, but the most beautiful one is at Purnwala on way to Bhajain. The Tibetan presence here has resulted in beautiful Tibetan artifacts especially carpets being manufactured for marketing.

RENUKA

The most important place of tourist interest in Sirmaur and the third point of this triangle is the sacred and picturesque lake of Renuka, 45 kms. from Nahan. It is one of the most beautiful lakes in Himachal Pradesh having crystal clear water. It is shaped like a sleeping women. Renuka was killed by her own son, the legendary Parsu Ram, in obedience to the orders of his father-the sage Jamadagni. After the deed was done, lake Renuka was formed surrounded by stepped fields of golden corn. Today the myth is brought to the fore when, each year in November, a fair is held to celebrate the immortality of Renuka and her son. The key-notes of the colourful fair are the festivity and devotional exuberance. It lasts for a week in which cultural programmes and folk dances are organised for the entertainment of visitors. Several idols of Parsu Ram, believed to be the incarnation of Lord Vishnu and other local deities, placed in decorated palanquins, are carried by an impressive procession to Parsu Ram Tal. Before the idols are installed in the temple, they are given a bath in this holy lake symbolising the body of the mother.

The poeple from the surroundings areas gather here, chant praises of the two immortals, worship at the temple and take a dip in the holy water. An old ceremony takes place as the celebrants exchange turbans or caps or even a handful of water to become brothers and sister in the name of the deity. On the eve of the festival, markets springs up with stalls and amusements at which locally made wares are peddled together with home grown produce. Boating facilities are available in this lake for the tourists.

APPROACH

ROAD: Renukaji is easily approachable by road from Nahan (45 kms). There is a regular bus service connecting other places too.

WHOM TO CONTACT

Manager, HPTDC Hotel, Renuka

ACCOMMODATION

There is adequate accommodation in Renuka. There is a HPTDC Hotel and a rest house for stay.

WHAT TO SEE

WILD LIFE PARK: Around Renuka lake there is a Wild Life Park which has a number of Sambhar, Chital, Barking Deer and Hob Deer. These animals can be seen from the machans erected at the head of grassy glade early in the morning and late in the evening. Lions can also be seen from a closed jeep.

GAYATRI TEMPLE: On the left bank of the Renuka lake there are three Ashrams run by Sadhus and these  have inns to accommodate pilgrims visiting this sacred lake. Gayatri temple has a 1.60 meter high Panch Mukhi Ma Gayatri marble statue, marble idols of Ganpati, Lord Vishnu, Lord Shiva, Lord Brahma and Lord Indra have also been installed here. This temple is dedicated to Sri Ma Gayatri the mother of Vedas, the treasure of Hindu wisdom.

RENUKA SANCTUARY: Another attraction is the Renuka Wild Life Sanctuary at a distance of 42 kms from Nahan approachable by road. Nearest point of getting to the sanctuary is Dadahu which is served by regular daily bus service. The sanctuary covers an area of about 30 sq. kms. with a buffer belt of 2 sq. kms. It lies among the lower Himalayan region sheltered by the beautiful Renuka Lake. It is a treat to see the Majestic Emperor of the forests and pride of the nation "ASIATIC LION". This animal is now provided with a much bigger enclosure to roam around and display its natural behaviour which the people will have the privilege of watching from watch towers and mobile vans. This sanctuary also has a large number of Black Bear, Barking Deer, Goral, Jackal and Leopard. Besides, it has a large number of birds and fishes like Parakeet, Barbet, Wild Fowl, Water Hen, Common Coot, Wood Pecker, King-fisher, Kalij Pheasant, Red Fowl, Sambhar with its sagacious antlers, Spotted Deer and the Geese along with other aquatic birds.

CHOORDHAR: Dominating the entire landscape of fields, forests and ravines is the Choordhar peak, which rises to 3647 meters and is a trekkersss treat from Nahan and Renuka. Approached by way of Dadahu, Sangrah, Bhawal, Gandhuri and Nauhra,it is a 50 kms trek. A less taxing journey is by taxi or car to Nauhra and thereafter a walk of 16 kms. The climb is difficult but rewarding. The peak offers a fine view in south of the Gangetic plains and the Satluj river and towards  north the Badrinath, a well known Hindu pilgrim centre. Also seen are the hills of Chakrata and Shimla from the top. An alternative route to Choordhar is through Rajgarh an orchard country.


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