Jewel of Mughal Architecture in India, Symbol of Love, & UNESCO World Heritage Site
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Due to Retreat center's location in Himachal Pradesh, which is also referred to as Devbhoomi "Abode of Gods", you are in close proximity to the following holy lands and pilgrimage sites.
Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib at Anandpur Sahib
Distance from retreat center: Approx. 50km (1hr, 15 mins)
Anandpur Sahib - the “city of bliss”, is a city on the edge of Shivalik hills near Sutlej river. The city is home to Keshgarh Sahib Gurudwara – one of the 5 Takhts in Sikhism. This is the place where last two Sikh Gurus lived and where Guru Gobind Singh Ji founded the Khalsa Panth in 1699. This Sikh pilgrimage site hosts the largest Sikh gathering during the annual Hola Mohalla festival during the spring season in March.
Distance from retreat center: Approx. 217km (4hr, 15 mins)
Also known as Darbar Sahib or Sri Harmandir Sahib “the abode of god” is spiritually the most significant shrine in Sikhism. The temple is built around a man-made pool (sarovar) that was completed by Guru Ram Das in 1577. The foundation stone was laid in 1589 by Sai Mian Mir – a Muslim Pir from Lahore, on the request of Guru Arjan – the fifth Guru of Sikhism. In 1604 Guru Arjan placed a copy of Adi Granth in Harmandir Sahib, calling the site Ath Sath Tirath “shrine of 68 pilgrimages”. The site became a target of persecution and the temple was destroyed in 1757 & again in 1762. In 1809, Maharaja Ranjit Singh rebuilt the Temple in marble and copper and overlaid the sanctum with gold foil in 1830, which led to the name – Golden Temple.
Ancient legends speak of a time when demons lorded over the Himalayan mountains, Lord Vishnu “the preserver”- one of the principal deities, led the other gods to defeat the demons.
They all focused their strengths and as a result, Sati, also referred to as Adishakti- the first shakti or the great divine mother, was born. Sati was raised as a princess by King Prajapati Daksha – the son of Lord Brahma “the creator”. Sati grew up adoring the legends and tales of Lord Shiva, and when she reached the age of getting married, she knew it was only the ascetic Lord Shiva of Kailash with whom her heart and soul resided. Soon enough, Daksha's daughter left her father's luxuries and palace and began her meditation to win Shiva's heart. She performed intense penance in dense forests and renounced food completely. When she finally pleased Shiva through her austerities, the lord of Kailash appeared in front of her and agreed to marry her.
The legend goes that Sati and Shiva were happy in their marital bliss, but their marriage had not gone down too well with King Daksha, who considered ascetic Shiva nothing short of an uncouth lad who lives a hermit's life not worthy of his daughter. When Daksha organized a great Yagna, he invited all the deities, gods and sages--but consciously excluded his son-in-law Shiva to insult him. Hurt by her father's decision, Sati decided to visit her father and demand the reason for not inviting them. When she entered Daksha's palace, she was bombarded with insults directed towards Lord Shiva. Unable to bear anything against her husband, a devastated Goddess Sati sacrificed herself in the glowing scared fire of Yagya.
When Shiva's attendants informed him about the demise of his wife, he grew enraged and created Veerbhadra from a lock of his hair. Veerbhadra created havoc in Daksha's palace and killed him. Meanwhile, mourning his beloved soulmate's death, Shiva tenderly held Sati's body and started his dance of destruction (Rudra taandav). To save the universe and bring back Shiva's sanity, Lord Vishnu cut Sati's lifeless body using Sudharshan Chakra into 51 pieces.
The pieces fell on earth at various geographical points and came to be known as Shakti Peeths – the holy lands and pilgrimages. Most of the shakti peeths are located in India and the rest in Nepal, Bangladesh, Tibet (Mansarovar), Sri Lanka, & Pakistan.
Naina Devi Temple
Distance from retreat centre: Approx 70km (1hr, 50 mins)
Naina Devi is located in Bilaspur district of Himachal Pradesh. The temple is located on top of a hill where the eyes of Sati fell when her body was cut into 51 pieces by Lord Vishnu’s chakra. Shri Naina Devi Temple is also known as Mahishapeeth because of defeat of demon Mahishasur by the Goddess. The hills of Naina Devi overlook Gobind Sagar lake. The lake was formed by construction of Bhakra Nangal Dam and is considered the third largest reservoir in India formed due to construction of a Dam.
Kangra Devi Mandir (Mata Shri Bajreshwari Devi)
Distance from retreat centre: Approx 190km (4hr, 30 mins)
Shree Bajreshwari Mata Mandir also known as Kangra Devi Mandir is located in the town of Kangra, Himachal Pradesh. The original temple was built by the Pandavas at the geographical location where the breasts of Sati fell when her body was cut into 51 pieces by Lord Vishnu’s Sudarshan chakra. The temple is in the vicinity of Kangra Fort & Chamunda Devi Temple
Chamunda Nandikeshwar Dham
Distance from retreat centre: Approx 240km (6hrs)
Chamunda Devi Temple is located 10km west of Palampur in Kangra district on the banks of Baner river. As per mythological legends, Goddess Durga made a goddess with her power to slay the demons – Chanda & Munda. After the goddess successfully slaughtered the demons, Goddess Durga named her Chamunda – the wrathful form of Durga. There is nothing extraordinary about the architecture of the temple, but its aura spell bounds the devotees with its spiritual appeal.
Distance from retreat centre: Approx. 160km (3hr, 40 mins)
Jwalaji or Jwalamukhi Temple is a temple of the Goddess of Light. It is located about 35 km south of Kangra valley in the lap of Shivalik range. Unlike any other temples, this one doesn't have a statue or an image, but a constantly burning blue flame that seems to come from the rocks. The temple comes alive with Navaratri celebrations from March-April and Sept-Oct every year. This is a very popular place of pilgrimage as it is among the 51 shakti peeths.
Distance from retreat centre: Approx 140km (3hr, 10 mins)
The Chintpurni shakti peeth (Chhinnamastik shakti peeth) is one of the major 7 shakti peeths out of total 51. It is located in Una district Himachal Pradesh state, surrounded by the western Himalaya in the north and east in the smaller Shiwalik (or Shivalik) range bordering the state of Punjab. Held thrice a year in the months of Chet (March-April), Sawan (July-August) and Asanj (September-October), The Chintpurni fair, locally known as Mata Da Mela (fair of the mother Goddess), is celebrated with fervor at the temple. The Hindu genealogy registers having family history of 20 prior generations stretching across many centuries are also kept at this temple.
To make the most of your trip, you can also consider visiting the following popular destinations
Distance from retreat center: Approx. 90km (3hr, 30 mins)
Named after Hindu goddess Shyamala Devi, Shimla is the largest city of the state of Himachal Pradesh. Due to its pleasant climate, Shimla was declared summer capital of India during British Raj in 1864. The opening up of Kalka-Shimla railway line in 1903 made Shimla more accessible. The railway route, with more than 800 bridges and 100 tunnels, was a major engineering feat of that time and was coined as “British Jewel of the Orient”. Soon after, many important political meetings were held at Shimla such as Simla accord of 1914, and Simla conference of 1945. After Independence, Shimla continued to serve as the capital of Undivided Punjab. In 1971 Himachal emerged as the 18th state of the Indian Union and Shimla was declared its capital.
Distance from retreat center: Approx. 520km (8hr, 50 mins)
Distance from New Delhi Airport: Approx. 230km (3hr, 40 mins)
Taj Mahal “crown of palaces” was commissioned in 1632 by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in the loving memory of his beloved Persian wife Mumtaz Mahal who died during child birth. With a workforce of 20,000 artisians, the final construction was completed in 1653 at a total project cost that was equivalent to USD 827M as of 2015. Taj is regarded an architectural masterpiece and it was declared as UNESCO world heritage site in 1983.
Adventure & Sports
Let a Himalayan Adventure fill your soul
The Naldhera Golf Course
Distance from retreat center: Approx. 115km (4hr, 20 mins)
Perched at an altitude of 2,200 meters the Naldehra Golf Club, which bears resemblance to the Scottish links courses, is located about 22 km from Shimla. Measuring 4285 yards, this Par 68 course boasts of 18 holes, 16 greens and 18 tees. With many holes sharing the same fairway, criss-crossing it at different angles, it is regarded as one of the most challenging courses in the country. Designed over a long sloping glade, it boasts of considerable character, with wide views of the Himalayas and thick woods all around.
Paragliding at Bir-Billing
Distance from retreat center: Approx. 250km (6hr, 30 min)
Bir-Billing is ranked the top destination in Himachal for Paragliding. Aero-sports enthusiasts travel from all over the world to take a flight at Billing. Once you get to the top, you get stunning views of the snow-capped mountains. Paragliding world-cup of 2015 was also hosted in Billing. Paragliding activity goes all year round except monsoon season from July-September.