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May 6, 2012

Manikaran emerges as popular religious tourist destination

     Manikaran (Himachal Pradesh): Religious tourism is taking off in a big way in Himachal Pradesh, with the holy town of Manikaran now being included in the state government's must visit spots for domestic and foreign tourists. Manikaran is located in the Parvati Valley between the Rivers Beas and Parvati, northeast of Bhuntar in the state's Kullu District. Scores of domestic tourist visit the place every year, but this year, there is huge footfall of the international tourists as well. "We are in Manikaran. It's a very good holy place. There is hot bath and very beautiful nature," said Russian tourist Sashe on Sunday. Devotees were seen offering prayers in temples and a gurudwara. It is believed that when Lord Shiva and his wife, the Goddess Parvati, were walking across the valley, she dropped one of her earrings. The serpent deity, 'Sheshanag', seized the earring and disappeared. The piece of jewellery was recovered after Lord Shiva performed the Tandava cosmic dance. The executive head of the Manikaran Gurudwara and Shiv Temple , Baba Ram, highlighted the significance of the holy place. "Those whoever visit this place, we treat them as visitors send by God. We serve them as the guests of God, as according to Indian tradition and culture, guests are God's messengers. This is why; we treat them as gods whether they are Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh, Christian or any other religion of the world. We treat everyone equally," said Baba Ram. He also mentioned that the Langar, or community kitchen, is organised in order to serve food to all the devotees despite their caste, creed and religion. Religious tourism or faith tourism is an emerging on a fast track, people travel individually or in groups for the pilgrimage. Himachal Pradesh is recognized for its picturesque beauty and is a popular tourist destination.
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