Manikaran is a pilgrimage centre for Hindus and Sikhs. The Hindus believe that Manu recreated human life in Manikaran after the flood, making it a sacred area. It has many temples and a gurudwara. There are temples of the Hindu deities Rama, Krishna, and Vishnu. The area is well known for its hot springs and its beautiful landscape.
According to legend, when the Hindu God Shiva and his consort Parvati were walking in the valley, Parvati dropped one of her earrings. The jewel was seized by Shesha, the serpent deity, who then disappeared into the earth with it. Shesha only surrendered the jewel when Shiva performed the cosmic dance, the Tandava and shot the jewel up through the water. Apparently, jewels continued to be thrown up in the waters at Manikaran until the earthquake of 1905
According to the Sikhs, during third Udasi, his founder Guru Nanak came to this place in 15 Asu 1574 Bikrami with his disciple Bhai Mardana. Mardana felt hungry and they had no food. Nanak sent Mardana to collect food for the langar (the Community Kitchen). Many people donated atta (flour) to make Roti(bread). The one problem was that there was no fire to cook the food. Nanak asked Mardana to lift a stone and he complied and a hot spring appeared. As directed by Nanak, Mardana put the rolled chappatis in the spring to his despair the chappatis sank. Nanak then told him to pray to God saying that if his chappatis float back then he would donate one chappati in His name. When he prayed all the chappatis started floating duly baked. Nanak said that anyone who donates in the name of God, his drowned items float back.
The legend of Manikaran states that while roaming around, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, once chanced upon a place that was surrounded by mountains and was lush green. Enamoured by the beauty of the place, they decided to spend some time there. It is believed that they actually spent eleven hundred years here.
During their stay here, Goddess Parvati lost her mani in the waters of a stream. Upset over the loss, she asked Shiva to retrieve it. Lord Shiva commanded his attendant to find out the mani for Parvati, however, when they failed, he was extremely angry. He opened his third eye, a tremendously inauspicious event which led to disturbances in the universe. An appeal was made before the serpent god, Sheshnag, to pacify Lord Shiva. Sheshnag hissed thereby giving rise to a flow of boiling water. The water spread over the entire area resulting in the emergence of precious stones of the type Goddess Parvati had lost. Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati were happy at the outcome.
The name Manikaran is derived from this legend. The water is still hot and is considered extremely auspicious. A pilgrimage to this place is thought of as complete. It is also believed that there is no need to pay a visit to Kashi after visiting this place. The water of the spring is also supposed to have curative powers. The water is so hot that rice can be cooked in it.
The Hindu Temples at Manikaran
Lord Ramchandra Temple
The temple was constructed by Raja Jagat Singh in the 17th century. Though there is no historical evidence backing, still the idol of Shri Ram installed here is believed to have been brought straight from.
Temple of Lord Shiva
This temple is hugely revered as it belongs to Lord Shiva. However, an earthquake in 1905 caused damage to the temple and it was slightly tilted. The importance of Manikaran is also judged from the fact that devtas of Kullu valley pay regular visit to this place on specified dates.