Mansa Devi Temple in Panchkula is one of the famous pilgrimage destinations amongst Hindus. It is dedicated to Mansa Devi or Shakti. Spread over 100 acres of land, the temple nestles at the foothills of the Shivalik Hills.
Devotees from all over the nation pay a visit to this temple specially during the Navratra Mela. The temple was constructed by Maharaja Gopal Singh during 1811-1815. It stands for the Himalayan faith and culture. Himalaya is considered as the habitation of Shiva and Shakti.
Other than this temple there are many other temples around Panchkula where Shakti is worshipped. Archaeological ruins have been derived from this region which focus on the traditional culture of the people in the yester years. Shaktism is the cult which is thoroughly practiced in this region of India.
Mansa Devi is popular amongst her devotees as the goddess who blesses with boon in keeping with her name. Navratri is celebrated with zest and enthusiasm in the temple. It continues for nine days when devotees pour in to offer their prayers.
Yatrika called Jatayu is arranged by the Haryana Tourism. Shardiya Navratra mela takes place during the months of Ashvin and Chaitra. Proper arrangements for accommodation and darshan during Navratri are made by the temple trust.
Tented accommodation, durries, blankets, temporary toilets, temporary dispensaries, mela police post and lines are some of the conveniences available during this time of the year. Strict steps are taken to manage the movement of devotees.
Due to its archaeological and mythological importance and for the devout devotees who throng here for fulfilling their wishes, the Haryana Government has taken steps to improve the infrastructure, management and administration of the shrine. The surrounding land and buildings are also being taken into consideration. It is being preserved as one of the heritage sites of the region.
The temple is decorated with thirty eight panels of wall paintings. The arches and the ceilings are adorned with floral paintings. Though not very artistic they reflect various themes. The architecture of the main temple represents Moghul architecture with domes and minarets.
The temple is a drive of 10 km from Chandigarh and 4 km from Panchkula. Local buses and autorickshaws are readily available as the means of transportation. Special buses are offered during Navratri. Chandigarh is the destination if one is travelling through airways and railways.
Yadavindra Gardens or Pinjor Gardens is situated in Pinjore. Built by the Patiala Dynasty rulers, the garden resembles Mughal style. It was created during the reign of Aurangzeb in the 17th century. The name Yadavindra Gardens is dedicated to Maharaja Yadavindra Singh of Patiala.
Yadavindra Gardens is supposedly the oldest and loveliest garden in North India. Lighted fountains with rooms and restaurants are dedicated to the travellers. Yadavindra Gardens is 22 km from Chandigarh. The garden has several terraces and also nestles a palace built in the Rajasthani-Mughal style.
The palace situated on the first terrace is adjoined by Shish Mahal and Hawa Mahal. The main gate opens on this terrace. The second terrace has Rang Mahal while the third owns trees and flower beds which further leads to a fruit orchard.
Jal Mahal along with fountains is present in the next terrace which also owns a platform for relaxation. Dense trees and fountains are found in the next one while the last terrace has an open air theatre which is shaped like a disc. A zoo is adjoined to the garden. The complex also has a temple and an open air museum which are well illuminated and connected with proper pathways.
Heritage train within the complex is an innovative idea which moves through the entire garden and the monuments within the complex. It is located in the vicinity of river Kaushalya and Jhajjar which are the tributaries of Ghaggar. It also has historical and religious significance as the name is derived from Panchpura. Panchpura was the town of the Pandavas.
The scenic view is also enhanced for its confluence with the Shivalik ranges. Baisakhi in April and Mango Festival in June and July attract tourists here. The Pinjore Heritage Festival initiated by the Haryana Tourism started since 2006. The ancient and glorious heritage of Pinjore town and the grandeur of Yadavindra Gardens is celebrated in this festival.
Cultural programmes are arranged during this festival where renowned artists participate. Bhimadevi Temple and ancient baths are located close to Yadavindra Gardens. It is accessible by road, rail and airways from any corner of the nation. Kalka which lies on the way to Shimla is 5 km from here.
Kali Mata Mandir is situated on NH 22. It run across Kalka town. This ancient temple is dedicated to Goddess Kali and as such is one of the famous Hindu pilgrimage sites. A huge crowd throngs here during the Navratri celebration. It is very popular as a Hindu pilgrimage site of this region.
The temple not only has religious connections but also has mythological history. The temple dates back to the period of Mahabharata. It is believed that the Pandavas built this temple during their 'Agyat Vas'. Worship of Lord Shiva is popular all through Panchkula.
Along with Lord Shiva Goddess Shakti is also worshipped. This goddess is idiolized by different names like Durga, Kalika, Chandi, Naina, Mansa, Sharda, Ambika, Kali and Bhawani. Kalka is one of the gateways to Himachal Pradesh. It is 14 km from Chandigarh and the end point of Kalka Shimla railway.
The name of the town is derived from this Kali Temple. Journey by train is comfortable and is an adventurous option as it passes through 103 tunnels.
Morni Hills or Bhoj Jabial is one of the renowned tourist spots of Haryana. It is the highest point of Panchkula as well as Haryana. It is situated at a distance of 45 km from Chandigarh. The name is supposedly derived from the queen who once ruled this place. The scenic view of the Himalayas with lakes and different species of flora is breathtaking.
Morni Hills is a part of the Shivalik Hills of the Himalayas. Other than the hill station, there is also a village which goes by the same name. Two lakes are present amidst the hills. Though they are separated by a hill there lies a hidden link between them as the water level of both the lakes almost remains the same. These lakes are considered holy by the local inhabitants.
Resorts for trekkers and tourists have been constructed by the Haryana Government along the road that connects Morni Hills and the Haryana State Higheway. These roads are well maintained which further connect Chandigarh and other closeby towns. Rest houses have also been constructed by the Indian Forest Department and PWD.
Swimming pool, roller skating rink and playground for children are available here. An ancient fort is also present which is almost in ruins. Morni Hills has always remained one of the favourite hubs for trek enthusiasts. Tikkar Taal, Bada Tikkar and Chota Tikkar are small manmade lakes at Morni Hills.
The Haryana Tourism has made arrangment for the accommodation of campers at Tikkar Taal. These lakes are situated at a distance of 7 km from the township of Morni. The serene surrounding supports camping.
These lakes are also attracting tourists as Panchkula's first adventure park. The park was inaugurated in 2004 by Haryana Tourism. Its objective was to popularize lower Himalayan region as an adventure destination. Low ropes, commando nets, Burma bridge, boating, canoeing, kayaking, sailing, rappelling and rock-climbing are some of the activities to be enjoyed by the travellers.
The climate is quite healthy and the landscape is apt to enjoy trekking. River Ghaggar flows through these valleys. A motel is perched on the top of the hill which overlooks the spellbinding valley. It is featured with green lawns and a bar. Pine trees mostly cover the peak of the hills. A trek to the Ghaggar river bank is also adventurous as a narrow path leads the way.
Morni Hills is an ideal place to relax and rejuvenate in the lap of nature, far away from the hustle and bustle of the city. As the spot is not thoroughly explored, many facts remain hidden to the tourists. A variety of flora paves the way all through. Many villagers reside here whose basic occupation is agriculture.
Neem, pepal, jamun, dhak and pine are some of the plants which form the greenery around Morni Hills. As these trees flower during spring the view is a treat to the eyes. Doves, quails and sand grouse are some of the birds found in the hilly region. Sambhar, hyena and jungle cat are the wildlife of Morni Hills.
Haryana Tourism has arranged for packages for better convenience of the travellers. Accommodations are tented where sleeping bags are provided. Transportation is not included in the package.
The Cactus Garden in Panchkula is the biggest one in Asia which harbours a huge collection of rare and endangered cactus species. Cactus belonging to the same growth and genera are collected here. Opuntias, Ferocactus, Agaves, Columnar cacti, Echinocereus and Mammillarias are some of the varieties of cactus which one can see while exploring the garden.
The National Cactus and Succulent Botanical Garden and Research Centre is situated in Sector-5. Dr J.S. Sarkaria was the chief architect of this garden. He donated infinite species of succulent plants and cacti to the huge collection in the garden. The educative section has a collection of bonsai. The garden aims to save and preserve these endangered species and has thoroughly kept up to the objective.
Genus Caralluma is one such cacti of Indian origin whose complete collection is available in the garden. Cacti and succulents of more than 2500 variety are available here. Botanists and travellers who harbour special affection towards cactus pay a visit here. Their medicinal values also attracts tourists.
A Cactus Show takes place every year in the month of March. Enthusiasts from all over the nation are seen here during this time. Nine glass houses are present in the garden. Plants are also sold here.
Nada Sahib is one of the religious places in Panchkula. This gurudwara is situated 15 km from the city by the bank of river Ghagar and on the foothills of the Shivalik. It is very much popular among Sikhs. According to history, Guru Gobind Singh along with his fellow warriors stayed at this place after defeating the Mughals in the Battle of Bhangani.
Nadu Shah, one of the followers of Guru Gobind Singh welcomed the victorious warriors and was blessed by the guru. Thus the gurudwara is named after him as Nada Sahib. Infinite Sikhs pay a visit on full moon day or Pooranmashi of every month. It is a celebration for them as people from entire North India turn up for this occassion.
The original Manji Sahib constructed by Motha Singh has been replaced. Presently it is a double storeyed doomed structure. The Meeting Hall lies adjacent to it. Guru ka Langar and accommodation for pilgrims are present in a different complex. It is separated from the main Gurudwara by a brick courtyard.
By the shrine the holy flag is seen flying which soars high in the sky. Community meals and religious gatherings are organized daily. A new building with three storeys has been planned for parking and Langar Hall. Also, a museum focussing on Sikh history is coming up.