To pull tourists, Himachal books its legends (IANS Books)(With Image)

August 24th, 2011 - 11:35 am ICT by IANS  

Shimla, Aug 24 (IANS) The seat of deity Kotlu Devta is trusted by locals for disposing of domestic, social and criminal disputes. They believe the complainant just has to hammer a nail into the pillar of the temple and the offender confesses his crime.

Surprised? The practice is still prevalent in Baghi village of the Balichowki area in Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh.

Such tales form a part of the state tourism department’s compilation of 12 stories in the book titled, “Har Gaon Ki Kahani” or “Every Village Tells a Story”, aimed at attracting tourists to rural areas.

Himachal Pradesh, known for its picture-perfect tourist spots, attracted 13,298,748 tourists, including 454,851 foreigners, last year.

And to grab more tourists for rural areas, the state decided to publish this book.

Each of these legends of historical significance is from 12 districts, Tourism Director Arun Sharma told IANS.

“Now we are trying to compile such legends from 102 villages by next year,” he said.

This is just an attempt to promote rural tourism and divert the rush of tourists from traditional hotspots to offbeat destinations, he added.

Besides the Baghi village legend, the book comprises stories of Saho village in Chamba district, Nerti in Kangra district, Nari in Una district, Baniya Devi in Solan district, Udaipur in Lahaul and Spiti, Sangrah in Sirmaur, Bela in Hamirpur, Bruva in Kinnaur, Shamshar in Kullu, Hewn in Shimla and Salasi in Bilaspur.

The book, unveiled by Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal last week, says the villagers of Hewn, on the outskirts of Shimla town, worship an ‘eco-friendly’ deity Gan Devta, who resides in an open-air temple in the village.

The 20 residents of the village worship trees and forests as sacred groves.

Another tale is about a sacred water body in Bilaspur district. It is believed that if a barren woman takes a holy dip, she is blessed with a child.

Located 28 km from the district headquarters, the natural water body is known as Rukmani in Salasi village.

The legend is Rukmani, daughter-in-law of an erstwhile king, was sacrificed after the area was hit by water shortage. After that there has never been a famine in the villages and the water body is always brimming with water.

The book also narrates the legend, mythology and history of the 10th-century Chandershekhar temple dedicated to Lord Shiva in Saho, a picturesque village located on the right bank of the Sal river, some 20 km from Chamba town.

In front of the temple is placed a stone-carved statue of Nandi, a divine bull. A remarkable part of the sculpture is the tinkle of a bell there. The natural springs behind the Chandershekhar temple have medicinal properties.

And flipping through the new book might make you want to take a first-hand look!

(Vishal Gulati can be contacted at vishal.g@ians.in)

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