Even though it lies in a close proximity from Delhi, Renukaji – Himachal Pradesh is definitely a less frequented and well kept hideout. Situated in Sirmaur district of the state, this quiet destination can be a pleasant experience for a weekend outing in the sweltering heat (best time) or any season for that matter.
How to reach Renukaji
- By Rail/ By Air – Chandigarh serves both as the nearest railhead and airport. Private cabs or taxis are available from Ambala/ Chandigarh (around 95 km).
- By Road – Approximately, 300 km from Delhi; one has to rely on personal conveyance as there are no direct buses on this route from Delhi.
Where to stay in Renukaji
The stay options in Renukaji are limited and mostly around Nahan (around 50 km). Hotel “The Renuka” run by Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) seems to be the most convenient and affordable accommodation. The bookings can be done directly through the Himachal Tourism website. Moreover, it is the perfect location as both the major attractions – Renukalake and Renuka temple lie right in front within a 2-min walk.
The lesser known legend of Renukaji
Our ancient scriptures and puranas have many stories in reference to Renukaji (after whom the place is named), wife of Sage Jamadagni and mother of Lord Parshuram (fifth incarnation of Lord Vishnu). Local legend has it that a king Sahasarjuna killed the sage and tried to abduct Renukaji. To save herself, she jumped into the lake to take a jal samadhi. These incidents lead Parshuram to kill Sahasarjuna and exterminate the entire Kshatriya race. With his divine powers, he gave a new life to his father and went to pay by his mother’s feet at the lake. Renukaji promised to live in the lake and come out annually on Devprabodhini Ekadashi to meet her son – now celebrated as a major festival in the district. The palanquin of Lord Parshuram is carried from the ancient temple in Jamu Koti through a procession or “Shobha Yatra” to meet his mother, Renukaji.
Major attractions in Renukaji
Renukaji Temple and Renuka Lake are the major tourist attractions. While the temple exteriors are adorned with beautiful carvings on display narrating the legendary story; the interiors have an underlying calmer tone of peace and tranquility highlighting the deep religious sentiments.
The lesser known Renuka Lake is one of the most beautiful and cleanest lakes in Himachal Pradesh. It is believed to be shaped like a reclining woman personifying goddess Renuka.
What to do in Renukaji
The place might not give the ideal image of a hill station with mall road, food joints lined up or various commercial activities. In disguise, it’s the best part and makes for a perfect family outing. Here are some of the activities you might try:
- Boating in Renuka Lake – The obvious tourist attraction and major source of income for locals; boating facilities are available starting around INR 250-300 for duration of 30 minutes (can be extended if not crowded). It provides ample time to enjoy the serene beauty and undoubtedly is one of the best boating experiences as compared to overtly touristy places. Along the way, varieties of fishes and aquatic life would accompany; however, feeding them in any way is strictly prohibited.
- Temples – The banks of the lake lead to peaceful ashrams and beautiful temples (Gayatri temple and Parshuram temple being the most worshiped places).
- Mini Zoo – In a close vicinity of 2 kms, a mini zoo has been constructed and managed by Himachal Pradesh State government. It is said to have Asiatic lions, spotted deer, lion tailed macaques, ‘Nilgai’ mithun, barking deer and Himalayan Black bears – a sure shot hit with the children.
- Day hikes – Being surrounded by beautiful alpine forests; it is more than a beautiful hiking spot for nature and adventure lovers to explore at one’s own leisurely pace.
An off-road experience to explore Jamukoti
Your trip to Renukaji would ideally require only a day; however, if offbeat locations are your choice, head to a small village (lies 40 km ahead) named Jamukoti considered to be the birth place of Lord Parshuram. Literally the road less travelled; an extremely uneven and rocky path which might at times seem never ending but with breathtaking views. The vast unexplored, virgin locations keep changing every now and then with almost no human habitation to be seen around. At a faraway distance, atop a hill lies the beautiful Parshuram temple.
Renukaji is a secret getaway in Himachal. The ignorance of this hidden gem is not to be boasted about. On a second thought; it’s a blessing which keeps this secret intact.
**Images used in the article are courtesy Anup Roy (The Artsy Lens) as otherwise mentioned.