Adventure tales of Chamba

After wandering the streets for more than an hour, I finally found a cheap dormitory in Mahajan guest house that charged a minimal amount of Rs.100/night. I kept my belongings and headed straight to the nearby temple.

Chaugan-Chamba
Chaugan ground situated at the center is the heart of all the major activities of Chamba.
Laxmi Narayan Temple-Chamba
Laxmi Narayan temple was built in the 10th century by the then King Sahil Verman. The temple holds an important place in Hindu pilgrimage (particularly for the Vaishnavites) and is also known for its architecture marvel. Especially, the roof of the temple that is made in the shape of the umbrella, primarily to protect the temple from snow.

It was post lunch period and I was trying hard to keep up with the energy. So I decided to rest in the temple premises. The weather was pleasant with the cool breeze blowing and the sun provided the necessary warmth. But, before the poet in me could arise and appreciate the weather more, I was already in the blissful state of sleep!

Chamba valley
A bright day in Chamba.

After an hour or so, I woke up to the drizzles and thunders. I felt rejuvenated and soon continued my wandering. A local guided me on my way to the Chamunda temple but lured by the old streets, houses, and temples, I lost my way while clicking pictures.
ReadKalatop: The Poetic Beauty

Streets of Chamba
Even wandering the streets is a surreal experience here.

Streets of Chamba

Streets of Chamba

Streets of Chamba

By this time, I had reached the end of the road where a board indicated that the further steps lead to Sui Mata temple. Without further ado, I accepted my fate and started climbing. The steps soon ended followed by a trail in the jungle. Still unsure of the path, I continued to walk with a belief that I would get help on my way.

Spring in Chamba
The advent of spring in Chamba.

Rightly so, I met an old man who confirmed that I am on the right path. He told me that he is a regular visitor here and comes daily in the evening as a respite from the mundane. “I like the peace here”, he looked at me smiling, as if knowing that we are sharing the same mutual feeling. It was already half past 4 and according to the old man, there was still a lot of distance to cover. He asked me to return back with him. But, now that I had reached till here, I was adamant to walk further. I was able to convince him that I’ll go up to the village and return if the light gets dull.
Read- Pie in the sky: Patnitop

Chamba

The jungle grew denser with each climb. The temperature dropped gradually as the sun started hiding in the mountains.

trek to sui mata temple

Soon, I reached the village named “Kiu” (that’s what I can recollect) where I met a boy who had returned from Chamba after finishing his coaching. He narrated me several incidences of leopard intruding the village and preying their cattle. He said that the leopard had also killed a villager, a few months back. I took a good look at the village- perched on a hill slope, in the jungle with a boisterous sound of a stream. Such a setup could make anyone believe in his stories. “Ab to mandir pass hi hai, jaldi jaake laut ana” (Translation- The temple is not too far from here. Visit the place and return soon), he encouraged me after reading my scared face.
Read- Kalga: A hamlet from a fairytale

Kiu Village- Chamba

trek to sui mata temple

As I moved further, the trail welcomed me with the flowers blooming all around and the crisp sound of chirping birds. Never had I heard so many vivid voices of the birds before.

cherry blossom in chamba

trek to sui mata temple

sui mata temple

But, this was not the time to act as Walter Mitty. I hushed and puffed my way up to the temple and reached the place sooner than I expected.

Sui Mata Temple

The Sui Mata temple is dedicated to the Queen of Chamba (the wife of the King Verman) named Sunayna who sacrificed her life for the sake of her people.
The story goes this way- There was a scarcity of water in the region and the king could not find the solution to the problem. One day, the deity of Chamba appeared in queen’s dream and said that if one of the members of the royal family sacrificed his/her life, the problem must be solved. After contemplating, she decided to sacrifice her own life. As she took her last breath, the water sprung immediately from the mountains.

‘Sui Mata festival’ is still celebrated to commemorate the queen. It lasts for 4 days where all the women and children of Chamba actively participate in dance and other folklores (this was the last wish of the queen before dying and according to the wish, no men are allowed to participate in the festival.)
Read-Mythological importance of Kheerganga

Statue of Sunayna devi
Statue of Sui Mata or Sunayna Devi.

I clicked some pictures, quenched my thirst from the nearby stream and started to descend. While returning, I shuddered, even at the rustling of the bushes. Thankfully, I was out of the jungle soon with the town of Chamba clearly visible (though from a distant).

Chamba valley
What a breather!

In retrospect, it looks funny how an evening that was meant for casual exploration around the town turned out to be full of stories and adventures. I guess this is the way of the mountains teaching us to follow our heart and learn to be happy and amused with whatever little comes our way.

Bird's eye view of Chamba

Author: Hariom PrabhakarSingh

A Software Engineer by profession, finding solace in travel and writing.

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