Chindi is a small village located at the Karsog valley of Shimla, Himachal. 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 travelled 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.
Chindi of Shimla is admired for the enormous orchards for apples. It is also considered as hilly woods that are dense of pines and deodars. Chindi is 1825m from Shimla. Chindi is considered to be one of the most delightful stations of Himachal Pradesh. Leading the monotonous life constantly in routine, Chindi is a perfect anchorage to rejuvenate you to attain pleasure. There are wide valleys criss-crossed 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.
Kunhoo 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 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 hill of Shikari Devi ( 3359m ) stands as a divider between the Karsog and Janjheli valleys. From both, a steep and enjoyable hike can be done 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. Almost needless to add, the top has a spectacular 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 worshiped 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 to be core temple of the deity Mahunag – who is regarded as the embodiment of Karna of the epic Mahabharata.
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 back 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 regarded 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 back 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 Kamakhya Mata. The goddess in this temple is regarded to be manifest at the spot due to the meditations and sacrifices of Lord Parshurama. Today, the remarkable expression and the intensity of the eyes of the principal image cast in ‘ashtadhatu’, the eight primary metals, has to be seen to be believed. The deity is depicted as the ‘Mahishasuramardini’ – the slayer of the demon Mahisha, who had stalked the world in the shape of a buffalo. Rebuilt in the original genre, the temple is a splendid 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 worshipers. The original stone image of the deity is regarded to be in this room. A large drum, similar to the one at Mamel is one of the noteworthy objects in the temple.
Tourists can rest at either the Chindi rest house or the Hotel Mamleshwar of Himachal Tourism Department.