The Lord God Made them All - Why our search for Eternal Fragrances most often ends in the lap of Nature

When we were planning our trip to Kinnaur, a visit to Sarahan was also planned. Before starting from Delhi we had researched enough about places we should not miss when visiting a town or village on the way. But still many things surprised us and this Rajmahal just behind Bhimakali Temple was one of them. This Photo Journey is trying to share some moments spent around this Rajmahal with huge campus near the famous Bhimakali Temple in Sarahan town of Shimla district in Himachal Pradesh.Architecture of this Rajmahal was almost similar to one which we saw in Rampur, Shimla.  We visited Sarahan next day after exploring Rampur and Jeori. If you have missed our old post on Ramapur Kingdom, just check it out at - people know Sarahan because of Bhimakali Temple and folks are hardly worried about this huge campus. But above view caught our attention and these huge houses made us explore possibilities to go there and see. Initially people were hesitant about telling that property belongs to Raja Virbhadra Singh, but gradually we got to know. While having snacks in the market, someone told us that visitors are also allowed inside this campus. He guided us through the main gate where we requested the gate-keeper. He allowed us to go inside and see some of these huge complexesAs we entered, there was a very well maintained road connecting all Apple orchards & houses. First we crossed few apple trees on boths sides and then there was a gate on right which was a direct entry for Bhimakali Temple. Bhimakali Temple has two main entries, one is from main market and other is from this Rajmahal campus. If you haven't checked our Photo Journey on Bhimakali Temple, check it out at - we moved close to these huge buildings, we noticed that some families were living there. We didn't ask much but it seems, these were families of folks who were taking care of this whole campus full of Apple Orchards, different buildings and few small temples as well.At the end of this internal road, there is a huge building which was probably the largest one among all. This was named as 'Shrikhand View'. Above photograph shows one of the main gates for this building. Initially we were hesitating to enter inside this building but staff there was quite welcoming and they guided us through the whole building.There is a huge lawn around this building and above photograph is clicked form lawn only. Photograph shows view of hills above the main Rajmahal. The very first photograph of this Photo Journey shows this great lawn with main Rajmahal building in the background.This whole campus is surrounded by Pine forests. In fact whole Sarahan town is mainly surrounded by Pine and Apple Trees :)Sarahan Palace was alos capital pf former princely state of Bushair for several centuries. Sarahan is famous for it's legends, hilly architecture, special culture and amazing beauty of nature all aroundIt's on hill top and there is a deep valley next to it which ends at Satluj River. One can see snow covered peaks of Shirkhand mountains and that is why one of the main Palace is known as Shirkhand View PalaceSummer capital of Rampur Bushahr which is one of the biggest princely states in the Shimla region is mainly popular for Bhimkali Temple. Sarahan presents striking spectacle of snow-covered Himalayan ranges and a picture of unspoilt pastoral loveliness. It beholds the construction technic of more than 800 years old and also gives a good opportunity to study the western Himalayan architecture.Shrikhand view has a huge campus and many rooms attached to it. It seems, some of the rooms have not been opened for many years. Some of them have very old styled locks and chains.With its two multi-tiered sanctuary ters, elegantly sloping slate-tiled roofs, and gleaming golden spires, Sarahan Palace & Bhimakali Temple are few of the most majestic of the few early timber architectures left in the Sutlej Valley... This is an area renowned for its unusual tradition of housing holy shrines on raised wooden platforms.Following page has some nice details about Sarahan Town, Bhimakali Temple and Sarahan Palace - these chains and locks, which are still in use at Sarahan Palace. There are some small temples inside the Palace as wellThese huge seating areas in Placae balconies are really royalBhimakali Temple was made at the order of Raja Shamsher Singh in the mid-nineteenth century. The sanctum also contains a fabulous collection of Hindu as well as Buddhist bronzesOne of the most interesting structures of the timber-bonded style is Raja Bushahr Palace cum Temple Complex which has been described as one of the finest specimens of hilly architecture. Almost 2000 years old, and like all buildings of the hill type, it is built of layers of rubble masonry and beams of cedar wood A View of Bhimakali Temple from Sarahan Palace and few apple trees can be seen on the foreground Out of all senses, the sense of smell is perhaps the most underrated. But when you stop for a while and think about it, most of the memories that tie us to our roots are eternalized by some specific fragrance.

Recently some of us were on Kinnaur Trip and there is place called Jeory on the way. Sarahan is approximately 30 kilometers from Jeory and it's a beautiful town located on hill-top with amazing views of snow covered hills of Kinnaur. Bheemakali temple of Sarahan is most popular place to visit and this Photo Journey shares some of the moments spent around Bheema Kali Temple.Bheema Kali Temple has a huge campus and different temples inside the campus. There are two main temples, out of which one is accessible to everyone during normal days.The Second one is opened on some special occasions and Devi only allows Raja Virbhadra Singh to open the door of that temple. Shri Bheema Kali Temple is located in Sarahan town of Himachal Pradesh in India which is dedicated to the mother goddess Bhimakali, presiding deity of the rulers of former Bushahr State. The temple is situated about 180 km from Shimla and is one of 51 Shakti Peethass. The temple complex has another three temples dedicated to Lord Raghunathji, Narsinghji and Patal Bhairva Ji (Lankra Veer) - the guardian deity.Architecture of Bheema Kali Temple is beautiful. Whole campus is built with Stone and wooden blocks. It seems some part of the campus has not even cement to fix the joints. Whole campus is very well maintained and there is enough security as well.Here is one of the doors of the Bheem Kali temple in Sarahan Town. It's made up of silver with beautiful carving. There is also some text written, mostly in Hindi and Tibbatian scripts. Most of the carved forms are different gods and linked through some old stories.Sarahan was the capital of rulers of former Bushahr State. Bushahr dynasty earlier used to control the state from Kamroo. The capital of state later was shifted to Sonitpur. Later Raja Ram Singh made Rampur as the capital. It is believed that the country of Kinnaur was the Kailash mentioned in Puranas, the abode of Shiva. With its capital at Sonitpur this former princely state was extended up to entire area of Kinnaur where for sometimes Lord Shiva disguised himself as Kirata. Today, the then Sonitpur is known as Sarahan. Banasura, the ardent devotee of Lord Siva, eldest among the one hundred sons of great ablative demon King Bali and the great grandson of Vishnu votary Prahlad, during the Puranic age was the ruler of this princely state.(Courtesy - to a legend, the manifestation of the goddess is reported to the Daksha-Yajna incident when the ear of the Sati fell at this place and became a place of worship as a Pitha - Sthan. Presently in the form of a virgin the icon of this eternal goddess is consecrated at the top storey of the new building. Below that storey the goddess as Parvati, the daughter of Himalaya is enshrined as a divine consort of Lord SivaThere is a small market around Bheema Kali Temple and there are enough shops to have lunch or light snacks. Apart from that local caps can be bought from this fellow. He was very welcoming and offered good discounts for us :). We had asked for rates in Rampur Market, but he had better stuff and reasonable prices. There are many other shops in the town where some local stuff can be procured. On top of all that, most of the folks were really sweet to interact with.During our visit, we were looking for ladies wearing Dhaatu but couldn't gain the courage to ask anyone to get clicked by us. And just outside the Bheema Kali temple, this lady asked us to click one of her photograph and show her how we click. Probably she was noticing us clicking & reviewing photographs around the temple. We clicked few shots and showed to her. She shared some tips to improve and finally approved few of the shots. After final approval, she invited us to her hotel nearby but we couldn't go because it was time to head back as we had booked guest-house in Jeory.Here is a nearby sight, which is popularly known as Hawa-Ghar. This point has very clear view of Kinnar-Kailash Hills and place was quite windy. We spent around 30 minutes here to enjoy the breeze and take rest. This place is isolated form hustle bustle of the town. When we reached, there was only one person sitting here. Probably this place was least used by localites, as everyone has Hawa-ghar around their own houses :)Whole place was surrounded by Pine or Deodar Forests and smell was awesome in the middle of these forests. It was really an amazing experience to roam around Bheema Kali Temple and Sarahan Town. Meeting different people, visiting one of the amazing temples in this region, Hawa Ghar, a huge house of old kingdom etc.The town Sarahan is known as the gateway of Kinnaur. Down below at a distance of 7 km from Sarahan is the River Satluj. Sarahan is identified with the then Sonitpur mentioned in Puranas.Before entering into the main temple, everyone needs to lock mobiles, wallets or anything else which is made of leather and then wear a cap. Above photograph shows Aneesh wearing the holy cap and standing on right side of lockers everyone gets to keep everything safe.
I spent considerable amount of time with my paternal grandparents when we were young. Almost the entire summer vacations and Dussehra Vacations were spent with them. Both the navratras were spent feasting on the chhole-poori and the sweet-smelling halwa prepared by my grandmother, and their several neighbours. And I used to desperately wait for the afternoons when my grandmother would prepare her trademark cauliflower sabzi.

One didn't need to be a detective to know when she started frying the minutely chopped florets, because of the tantalizing fragrance that  wafted out of the kitchen, potent enough to drag us all in and be seated in line, waiting for the meal to be served. Such was the power of that fragrance, but I am not sure how appealing it would be as a car perfume - the biggest issue being that it would make me feel hungry all the time.

From what I have seen, for the most appealing fragrances, we often have to go back to the lap of nature. One of the fragrances that is most talked about is the fragrance of wet earth after rain. I had thought that this was probably one fragrance that could never be replicated. But when several years back I came across an Itr named Mitti, I was surprised by how closely they had managed to recreate it. I wish there was a room freshner or a car perfume that could make my car smell like that. Getting into the car and driving off will have more incentives then than just discovering new lands.

But besides this there are some fragrances that one just stumbles upon. It happened to me last year when I was in Himachal Pradesh with my family. We had travelled to the bustling town of Hamirpur in the monsoons and were staying in a little hotel away from the market area. One evening, we started walking towards the hill top, with my sister walking next to me. "I love this perfume, you're wearing di." I said to my sister. "I'm glad I smell nice, but I'm not wearing a perfume." What? then what was this sweet, intoxicating fragrance that was making me want to shut my eyes and loose myself in the wilderness surrounding us. Then I realized that it was the giants towering over our heads that were producing this unearthly scent - they were the mighty deodars, hundreds of them. Recently, I came across this fragrance again while driving down from Dhanaulti, forcing me to keep the window open despite the biting cold. I wish I could carry this fragrance with me all the time. I am sure I will sleep like a baby if my room had this aroma.

And then there are some fragrances that are more personal, ones you can never be sure others experience in the same way. There is this lovely fragrance I can often detect in the mornings when winter is about to arrive or when I travel to the mountains. Some people have told me that it is the smell of dew on the grass, but frankly I am not convinced. But I wish all mornings smelled like this, making me want to wake up early and go out for a walk in a garden. *sigh*

I wish someone would recreate these fragrances in a way that I can carry them with me all the time. So when I came to know that Godrej is looking at suggestions to come out with their first crowd-inspired fragrances, I decided to pen these down. You never know, my dreams may just come true!

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