Lakhamandal – a travelers tale


Those who love to travel don’t wait for opportunities to unravel -saargoga

Whims

It was a peaceful Sunday morning, but my mind was anything but ready for exams which were just a week off. A mobile at hand and a wandering mind combination enough for whims and exactly that made me call up an old friend living at his native village near Dehradun. Apparently being born at the land of Sharavan he had followed suite and had left his fledgling career in Delhi and headed back to his parents. I was always intrigued as how a grown up metro boy holding up in a village especially after spending most of his adolescent life in Delhi.

Aseem picked up the phone and discussions began to flow from whereabouts to well-being till we clicked upon a common interest, ‘traveling’. Now I am not usually irresponsible but that day I wanted to, and within a few minutes we decided to head off to Lakha Mandal. Lakha Mandal? because I have meant to go there after reading Himanshu’s blog and especially after watching the ‘metal murals’ on the temple door.

When you have to choose quickly you don’t pick favorites so in the order of accessibility I collected a GPS, a wristwatch, wallet, car keys and left without bathing if I may add ;).
I turned right from NH72 towards Sahasrapur small town ahead of Selaqui where I had to pick a path to Solan village for Aseem, who will be waiting on road near his village. I reached there in 25 mins, and met up with Aseem and soon we were on our way.

“It’s an experience when we look at ourselves through the eyes of time, that the place we were born, the life we had led and the life we are into now, realization sets in to see ourselves and our lives as a legacy that only we hold to unravel into the future. This is not an everyday occurrence and as soon as we are lead into our daily routine most of this broad view shrinks to day-to-day survival of busy life and that probably is one of the reasons I like to travel time and again”.

The Path

Dehradun-Saharsrpur-LakhaMandal

The path which we drove through Solan was a 6 feet damar road which evidently never saw ‘wrath of a raging road roller’. Good thing was this road from Solan meets up with the ‘Chakrata> Yamuna Bridge’ route skipping Kalsi and Dakpathar entirely, the map on the right doesn’t show it as Google map does not have necessary details in the ‘Map overlay’ though only visible in ‘satellite overlay’ mode. This path is a good alternative to the Mussorie>Yamuna Bridge>Lakha Mandl route.

Aseem at SarigadSo there we were chasing time to reach Lakha Mandal and at the same time moving through all the memories of our school days, teacher’s beatings, fights, glorious moments in sports, girls, swimming in rainwater collected in large part of our football field, licking the sweet sour lime powder that came in poly tubes and what not, past life was a big part of the travel until we stopped at a curious sign board which phonetically reads ‘sorry god’ actually  that’s a world in Garhwali loosely means ‘plantation in valley’ ;) We stopped again at Yamuna Bridge and had a plate of Maggie though neither of us was hungry as such.

I have known Aseem the boy for major part of our pre-board life and here I listened to Aseem who has turned into a fine young man, yet still loaded with those childish ‘born free’ flavours, one of them being motor-biking that he have acquired recently. Then of course there was a long chat on his attempts at few business ventures on his own in this village with mixed responses.

Reaching Lakha Mandal Temple (Lakhamandal)

We have just crossed Kwua and were looking for a bridge over river Yamuna to left. The route read Dehradun> Saharspur> Solan> Yamuna bridge> Nain Bagh> Kuwa> Lakhamandal. The bridge is nothing fancy, old school tough BRO iron girders interlock; you can easily confuse it with every other bridge of same type given that nothing marks it to Lakhamandal.

From here on the temple was about 4kms but rainy season sees lots of debris falling from hills so it’s not advisable to travel here in late July, august and early September we had to wade through our share of it while JCB cleared it we had to wait patiently.

Lakha Mandal Temple
Lakha Mandal Temple

Finally we had reached the base of Lakha Mandal temple and to make sure the regulations of temples in hills, kept all things of leather such as belts and wallets back in the car which is safe enough here and left for the temple which is hardly 100 meters from road of medium height. The entrance is fantastic since the temple is high above the hillock so the stairs leading up to it are just lovely, build excitement and then directly lead you to it.

My first impression was that of disappointment, put simply I had imagined it a lot bigger, but then I can’t put my finger from where that impression came to me, none the less being there for some time got me thinking about the magnificent stone architecture of the temple and the surroundings which came up nearly 5th century A.D.

A local student has now come up to us being an unofficial guide and he took us around temple showing the exit of the cave that Pandavas used to exit Lakshagraha as well as a Shiva ling in which one can see the reflection as it were a mirror but that only after pouring water over the Shiv Linga.

This temple is ASI or archaeological survey of India protected site and they have a small office within the temple complex.

We had an interest in visiting Lakshagraha which was nearby 2kms or so but due to lack of time decided against it. It was 4pm already and we needed to head back 120 km to Dehradun that would mean reaching home at around 8:30 pm.

In return trip Aseem talked about his life events leading up to his coming back from Delhi a tale both nostalgic and enduring somewhat how Pandavas felt like when their palace made up of Lac was burned with them inside it. The whole gamut of his past years after our separation from school day was a lot of stuff to soak in, funny nostalgic and enduring.  It was probably the most suited ending of any trip I have ever been into.

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