Karsog is a small town and nagar panchyat situated in the lap of the Himalayas, near Shimla, at a height of 1,404 metres. It is in the 7th Karsog subdivision of the Mandi district in Himachal Pradesh in India. It lies in the Pir Panjal range of the Himalayas bordering the Shimla and Kullu districts.
Karsog is famous for its temples, including the Mamlesh-war Mahadev, Kamaksha Devi, MahunNag, Someshwar Mahadev Somakothi temples.
Accessible from the state capital Shimla, the tracks around Karsog and Chindi are among the most picturesque areas of Himachal Pradesh. There are wide valleys crisscrossed by streams and carpeted with fields of assorted vegetables and grain. From fertile floors, orchards and thick forests rise to touch snow-covered peaks.
The small villages and their age-old architecture give expression to the phrase ‘picture perfect’. Legends and folklore abound, and every one of the temples is a repository of local culture and an example of remarkable building skills.
Named after the local deity, Chandika (Chindi) Mata, the tiny village of Chindi rests along a highway that services Shimla, Karsog and Mandi. A little further ahead, at the village of Bakhrote, is the bifurcation to Kullu and Manali along a less traveled but thoroughly delightful route. In some ways, the area harks back to old ‘hill stations’ before they became over-built messes – a few scattered houses, the little bazaar or two, patches of forests and wide open views. From the hotel at Chindi, the rise of Khoo Dhar is accessed through the Karsog bazaar. This large flat hilltop presents a 360 degrees view of the area. The Karsog valley lies below, to the north is the peak of Shikari Devi. Some of the other well-known ranges and mountains visible from Kunhoo Dhar are the Pir Panjal, the Hanuman Tibba, the rises around the Jalori Pass, the bare Chawasi Tibba, Narkanda’s Hattu Peak and the Shali Tibba. The villages of Churag, Chindi, and Mahunag form a part of the foreground and the other sightseeing places of Dhamoon and Sairi Bangla ( Bungalow ) are also visible. Kunhoo Dhar has a large pond and big ground while a low rise holds the small temple dedicated to both Kamakshya (Kamakhya) Devi and Nag Dhamooni. Local tradition has it that this was the site of the original palace of the former princely state of Suket – in whose territories these tracts once were.
The village of Karsog is surrounded by wide steps of fields and holds the main bazaar of the valley. Agriculture is the mainstay of the area and it is well known for its wheat, corn, rice and a variety of lentils and beans. The valley is crisscrossed by several brooks and the ‘twin’ Amla (Imla ) and Bimla streams. From the Karsog bazaar, the village of Mamel is a bare couple of kilometres and has the temple of Mamleshwara Mahadev. Local belief has it that the temple dates to the times of the epic Mahabharata when it founded by the Pandava brothers. And drawing on India’s other great epic, the Ramayana, it is regarded that after King Ravana of Lanka was killed by Bhagwan Rama, his soul could not be free till an image of Bhagwan Shiva was installed here – which was done by Rama with the use of supernatural powers. The sages Parshurama and Brighu are also believed to have meditated at the spot.
Using sleepers of considerable girth, the temple is an attractive wood and slate structure and it is believed that the sacred fire in the temple has been kept burning from times immemorial – and that the level of the ashes never increases. There is an unusually large drum in the temple with rhinoceros hide. Also shown on request, is a large grain of wheat supposedly dating to the mythological times of the Satyuga. Some recently excavated shivalingas have been installed by the side of the temple.
A little further down lies the village of Kau and the temple of Kamakshya Mata. The goddess in this temple is seen as manifest at the spot, due to the meditations and sacrifices of Lord Parashurama. Today, the remarkable expression and the intensity of the eyes of the principal image cast in ‘ashtadhatu’, the eight primary metals, is striking. The deity is depicted as the Mahishasuraamardini – the slayer of the demon Mahisha, who stalked the world in the shape of a buffalo. Rebuilt in the original genre, the temple is an example of local woodworking skills. Small chambers hold other images and the ‘bedchamber’ of the goddess. The sanctum sanctorum of the temple is said to be an underground chamber that is not accessible to worshippers. The original stone image of the deity is in this room. A large drum, similar to the one at Mamel is one of the noteworthy objects in the temple. A local story has it that the ruler of the erstwhile princely state of Suket, in whose territories the area fell, was pressuring local people to join the British forces during the Second World War. The people were reluctant to do so, and felt it was the intervention of the goddess that ended the war and saved her people from being slain. An annual fair celebrates the event. Dushera is another major celebration in the temple and several buffaloes are sacrificed.
The hill of Shikari Devi (3359 m) stands as a divider between the Karsog and Janjheli valleys. From both, a steep hike leads to the top. The route is through thick woods that have trees of deodar (Himalayan cedar), spruce, fir and walnut – and several rare herbs. From Chindi, the trail rises just after the village of Bakrote and guides and ponies can be hired for the trail. From Bakhrote, you can drive along the initial couple of kilometres. The top provides a view of the entire area.
The area is a wildlife sanctuary that hosts the musk deer, ghoral, bears and a variety of pheasants and other birds. Small huts of the migrant Gaddi and Gujjar people lie along the trail and in spring and again in late autumn you can see them moving with their flocks of cattle. As in practically every other part of Himachal, temples abound in the Chindi-Karsog area. There are several dedicated to the deity Nag Dhamooni who is especially worshipped by childless couples some of the more attractive structures are at Sairi Bangla (Bungalow) and at Saranda. Again near Chindi and accessed by an attractive drive through pine woods that gradually give way to deodars, the temple of Mahunag is regarded as one of the most important in the area. This is considered the core temple of the deity Mahunag, who embodies Karna of the epic Mahabharata.
A little off the drive to Mandi lies the village of Pangana, which was the original seat of the rulers of Suket, until they shifted the capital to Sundernagar. The centuries-old Devi Kot temple is one of the most remarkable examples of traditional architectural skills. Its wood mesh, packed with dressed stone, rises six stories to approximately fifty feet. The deity Mahamaya and the deified princess of Suket, Chandravati are enshrined in the compound. Past Pangana, and through thick forests and little villages the road winds down to Chail Chowk and the road to Manali. En route and accessible from the village Chowki, after an uphill hike of half a dozen kilometres through thick woods, lies the temple of Kamrunag. For centuries, this temple has been held in high veneration. Through all this time the offerings of gold, silver, ornaments and coins have been dropped in the small lake that lies in front of the temple.
Places to Visit near Karsog Valley
Shikari Devi Temple is near to Karsog valley. Shikari Devi Temple is situated at the height of 3359m. Shikari Devi can be accessible by two ways from Karsog and Janjehli.
Janjehli and Karsog are popular for adventure activities like trekking, night safari, and mountaineering. Shikari Devi is at a distance of 11 km from Janjehli and 14 km from a place known as Bakhrot near Karsog. At night there are some amazing views of lights from the houses on the nearby mountain ranges like Pir Panjal and Hatu ranges.
History of Shikari devi
According to the related stories, many years ago hunters worshiped a goddess on the mountain and prayed to get success in their hunt. The temple was built by the Pandavas and they stayed there at that period of time. People in the valley say that during heavy snowfall, you can see snow everywhere in the valley but not on the top of the temple. Best time to visit is between Feb and July.
Tattapani is known for its Hot Springs and is about 52 km from Shimla on the way to Karsog valley. This place is also a famous tourist spot. Here you can see the mesmerizing view of Satluj River flowing through the mountains.
Satluj River through the mountains at Tattapani You can feel the thrill and speed of the cold river. This one is perfect place for outdoor activities like river rafting, mountain biking, adventure park, trekking and camping, fishing and horse riding etc. River rafting in the Satluj Culture and Food A variety of crops are grown up there and land is very fertile. Apple, wheat, corn, rice, potato, pea are the main crops. Pahari and Hindi are widely spoken languages in the region. Apple is major source of income for many people in the valley. Apple of Karsog valley is famous all over the country. Climate remains pleasant most of the time during the year. Due to chilled weather in the 7-8 months in the year dhatus, shawls and woolen jacket are the main clothing of most of people in the valley.