Just a few more stairs, I thought to myself. How tough can it be, when there are children climbing and moving ahead as if it is a piece of butter being spread on a loaf of bread? I tried catching my breath and walked a little further. I was relieved because the route to Bijli Mahadev was well made and there was no chance that I will lose my way. But climbing approximately 600 stairs was playing a spoiler during my journey.
I decided to visit Bijli Mahadev during a time when I was facing internal battles on many levels. I hadn’t seen snow and a couple of ‘Latest Instagram posts’ made me realize that this is the best place to find it. Being one of those weekend trips in Himachal Pradesh had me assured that I will be back to Delhi before my work would start. Little did I know that this trip will bring me close to the laidback lifestyle of Himachali people and their love for climbing stairs?
A lot of things happened here for the first time. This was the first time I got on a local Himachali bus. This was also a first time when I stayed at Lost Tribe Hostels in Manali and didn’t feel like leaving. This was the first time when I had to climb so many stairs that I was left breathless before I could see the encompassing mountains and the views of Kullu Valley from the top of the temple.
This is the story of how I was left breathless at Bijli Mahadev.
On paper, travelling to Bijli Mahadev is easy. You catch a bus for Manali from Delhi, it will drop you in Manali in the morning from where you can move to your hotel or hostel. Next morning, a local bus will drop you at the base from where you can climb to the temple and reach the top in 4 to 5 hours. By evening you’ll be in Kullu from where you can catch returning bus to Delhi.
Easy peasy right?
When you are travelling solo on budget and love sleeping more than you’ll imagine, this becomes little impossible. But it is not my fault that it took longer time than imagined.
The super slow buses of Kullu Valley
The local buses that run in Kullu Valley will test your patience. Your ride will take all the time in the world, would stop after every 1 minute because the passengers need to get down at the gate of their home. This bus took 3 hours to travel a distance between Kullu and Bijli Mahadev. I was almost 2 hours late but how tough would be a small trek like Bijli Mahadev? I was sure that I will catch the bus for Delhi in evening.
Oh, how wrong was I….
Kryptonite is an extra terrestrial object in DC Universe that is capable of making Clark Kent aka Superman lose his powers. In real life, anything that makes anyone feel weak, helpless, or forlorn is your kryptonite. For me, it is stairs. I hate climbing steps. They are just so painful and never end. I used to climb 7 floors in my office but I had the hope that I will find a lift at any point I wish to. But here, there was no hope. I had to climb and climb.
From the base of Bijli Mahadev, a long hike started. Stairs came and it seemed that they are not going away anytime soon. I climbed, I was wearing a jacket that started to make its presence felt. I ultimately decided to ditch my jacket in a shop and proceeded further. But the pain didn’t end.
Bijli Mahadev was also the first time when I decided to make a vlog. Watching these lame vlogs where you see the face of the person narrating the video more than the place itself gave me a lot of confidence that I can do it too but guess what, I couldn’t make a single video. I recorded my movement, the scenery and the views but every time I would start to narrate the video, I would get conscious because of my sweaty face.
Trekking to Bijli mahadev took all the energy out of me. This short weekend trip from Delhi started to feel like a lifetime. After some four hours of climb and asking 100s of strangers about the distance of the temple, my destination arrived. Like any Himalayan peak, Bijli Mahadev area looked like a mini shopping complex with small huts, shacks and tea shops.
As per a popular belief, every year a lightening (Bijli) strikes the shaft near the temple and breaks the lingam into pieces. This occurrence symbolises that Lord Shiva absorbs all the sufferings/dangers falling onto the world upon him. After the lingam is broken, the priest repairs it using butter.
Bijli Mahadev is one of the most important temples in Kullu Valley. Bhuntar Airport’s strip is visible as well as the peaks like Rohtang Pass and many others. I didn’t find any snow on the top of Bijli Mahadev but there were traces that must have happened a few months back.
I started walking down the stairs, it was not as tiring as climbing up. I collected my jacket and then moved towards the bus stand.
When I reached the main road, the bus was nowhere to be seen. From here, it just turned into a long wait and now I was sure that I am going to miss my bus. A bus arrived, took some passengers and then started moving with snail like speed. Then someone informed the driver that his friends have asked to wait, so the bus waited for 15 minutes, new people arrived and then it moved and it stopped so pick someone else from their home. This continued and it took another three hours to reach my hostel.
So this was also the first time when I missed my bus in Manali. I was so pissed off that these bus drivers think that everyone has all the time in the world. Luckily, I found the last bus to Delhi and was home by morning.
I am not sure that the battles I was facing ended but I guess, climbing and arriving somewhere gave me some perspective to handle things in a new way.
How to reach Bijli Mahadev
Bijli Mahadev is 24 km from Kullu bus stand. The super slow local buses will complete a distance of 50 minutes in three hours. First bus leaves from Kullu at 6 AM and that time is ideal to start for Bijli Mahadev. The bus will drop you at the base from where it will take almost 4 hours to climb to the top.
Points to take care during solo travelling to Bijli Mahadev on a Budget
- If it is a weekend trip then try to stay in Kullu instead of Manali because you’ll have to change bus from Kullu in order to find the next bus to Bijli Mahadev’s base
- Start early morning so that you are back in Kullu by 4 PM. The last bus for Delhi and Chandigarh leaves around 8 PM so missing that will mean missing your office or anything important for which you want to return Monday morning.
- These local buses are super slow so ensure that you have ample time for trek
- If you are on a long holiday in Manali and looking for something offbeat then Bijli Mahadev is ideal for you. You can also hire a car from Manali and reach the base of trek faster.
- From Manali, you can combine your trek to Bijli Mahadev with Rohtang Pass and Solang Valley.
- If you have three days in Manali then it is easy to trek to Bijli Mahadev on 2nd day and then return to hostel for the night
Travel responsibly in Himachal Pradesh
A majority of Himachal Pradesh is ecologically sensitive zone. When you travel to Bijli Mahadev, avoid using plastic bottles and packets. If you eat wafers or biscuits, ensure that you don’t leave the traces on the trail and instead use dustbins wherever you find them.