Bharmour, formally known as Brahmpura, was the ancient capital of Chamba district in Himachal Pradesh, India. Situated at an altitude of 7000 feet in the Budhil valley, forty miles to the south-east of Chamba, Bharmour is known for its scenic beauty and for its ancient temples. Some of the temples are believed to date from 10th century.
As the whole country around Bharmour is supposed to belong to lord Shiva, it is popularly spoken of as Shiva Bhumi, abode of lord Shiva. It lies between the Pir-Panjal and Dhauladhar range, between Ravi and Chenab valley. The land is blessed with deep beauty of abundant alpine pastures and provides home for nomadic shepherds, known as Gaddi, thus also called Gadderan. The foothills are filled with orchards and terraced farmsteads. The epitome of spirituality lies in this land as it is endow with ancient temples. The area goes through inhospitable terrain and severe climate changes. "Kailash Vasio" as the people of Bharmour are known are extremely courteous and welcomes you like their own family member. Along with its ethnic traditions, culture and ancient history, Bharmour forms the perfection of divine splendor.
- Area: Located in Chamba district, Himacahal Pradesh
- Altitude: 7000 feet
- Climate: In winter, the temperature gets quite low and in summer temperature is mild
- Rainfall: 1264.4 mm
- Primary rainy season: June to September
- Summer: 15 °C – 20 °C
- Winter: comes down to even 0 °C or even lower
- Languages:gaddi, hindi
- Months in which Bharmour can be visited are April to October as in winters the land there can get under snow as high as 5–6 ft as informed by the locals.
- Male: 13000
- Female: 12213
- Total Family: 6136
- Post Graduate: 1500
- Graduate: 2000
- Matric and Above: 3000
- Literate: 300
- Illiterate: 10
Distance from nearest cities
- Chamba (from District Headquarters): 64 km
- Kangra: 220 km
- Dharamsala: 145 km
- Manali: 220 km
- Shimla: 350 km
- Pathankot:174 km
- Chandigarh: 414 km
- Delhi: 650 km
Meru, the father of the first recorded prince Jaistambh in the Chamba Vanshavali was the first to settle Bharmour. He belonged to a ruling family of Ayodhya. Accompanied by his youngest son Jaistambh,Meru penetrated to the upper Ravi valley through the outer hills. He defeated the petty Ranas holding the territory there and founded the town Brahmpura and made it the capital of a new state. This event is believed to have taken place in the middle of 6th century A.D..
According to one legend, the name Brahampura was in use at a still earlier period for the more ancient kingdom of Bharmour which existed in the territories of Garhwal and Kumaon, and that Maru gave the same name of Brahampura to the state that he founded with present Bharmour as his capital. After Maru, several Rajas ruled in succession until Sahil Varman. It was Sahil Varman who conquered the lower Ravi valley and transferred the seat of government from Brahampura to the new capital he founded at Chamba. Bharmour was capital for probably four hundred years.
The original state was of very small extent and in all likelihood comprised at the most the present Bharmour sub-division i.e. the valley of the Ravi below Bara Bangahal, with its tributaries, the Budhil and the Tundah as far down as Chhatrari.
According to a local legend, the place Brahampura was older than Maru's time and as per common belief this used to be the vatika (garden) of goddess Brahmaani who used to reside where her shrine now stands on the ridge at a distance of 3-4 kilometers. Brahmaani Devi was having a son who was very fond of his pet chakor or (birds). One day the chakor was killed by a peasant and the son was shocked to death by this loss. Grief-stricken, Brahmani Devi also sacrificed by burying herself alive. The spirits of these trio dead souls started haunting the people awfully who raised Brahmani Devi to the status of deity and built her a temple. The people believe that the place was called Brahmpura after Brahamani Devi.
The legend further says that God Shiva with 84 Sidhas while on his way to Manimahesh happened to visit Brahmpura, the Vatika of the Goddess Brahmani Devi and settle there for the night. When Brahmani Devi, the presiding deity of the place saw the smoke of fires lit by the Sidhas, she felt very angry at this trespass. She came down to the place and ordered Shiva and the Sidhas to get out of the place. Shiva importuned in all his humility for allowing them to spend a night there. Goddess Brahamani condescended to their wishes. The 84 Mahasiddhas transformed themselves into 84 Lingas because they wished to settle there.
The Lord Shiva granted a boon to Brahamani Devi that all persons intending to go on pilgrimage to Manimahesh must have a dip in Brahmani pool. Failing this, their pilgrimage would not be acceptable to Lord Shiva.
In September 2007, the Government of Himachal Pradesh started chopper service to the temple located at an altitude of 14,000 ft.
Chaurasi Temple is located in the center of Bharmour town and it holds immense religious importance because of temples built around 1400 years ago. Life of people in Bharmour centers around the temple complex-Chaurasi, named so because of 84 shrines built in the periphery of Chaurasi Temple. Chaurasi is Hindi word for number eighty four. The beautiful Shikhara style temple of Manimahesh occupies the center of the complex. Chaurasi Temple Complex was built approximately in 7th century, although repairs of many temples have been carried out in later period. There are 84 big and small temples in Chaurasi temple complex.
Chaurasi is a spacious level ground in center of Bharmour where the galaxy of temples mostly in the form of Shivlingas exists. The Chaurasi Temple Complex offers a delightful, clean and a scenic view. Another temple built in the same style is that of Lord Vishnu cast in his Narsimha avatar.
Major temples in the complex
- Lakshana Devi Temple (Lakhna Devi/Bhadrakali): The temple of Lakshana Devi is the oldest temple at Chaurasi Temple Bharmour. It retains many of the old architectural features of wooden temples and has richly carved entrance. It is said to be constructed by Raja Maru Varman (680 AD). Durga is represented here in her aspect of four armed Mahishasuramardini, the slayer of the demon Mahishasura.
- Manimahesh (Shiva) Temple: Manimahesh temple which stands in the centre of Chaurasi temple, is main temple, enshrining a huge Shiva linga. The Shiva linga is nothing but a symbol of characteristic mark of lord Shiva and is worshiped in a symbol.
- Narsingh (Narasimha) Temple: Narasimha (Sanskrit: Narsingh) or Nrusimha, also spelled as Narasingh whose name literally translates from Sanskrit as "Man-lion". Narasimha is an incarnation of Vishnu in which the god is represented in therianthropic form as half man and half lion. The bronze image of this god, which is exquisitely cast, is awe-inspiring.
- Lord Nandi Bull Temple: The life size metal bull Nandi, locally known as Nandigan with the broken ear and tail can be seen standing in a modern shed in front of Manimahesh temple. Nandi is chief of Ganesh and Shiva’s foremost attendant, who had shape of the bull and qualities of noble devotee. Usually in front of Shiva temples the Shilpa Texts provide for a couchant bull paced outside and staring at his lord Shiva. But here we have a life size Nandi bull standing on all fours (legs). ‘Visnudharmotra Purana’, however describes of such Nandi bull, as representing solidity and stability of dharma.
- Dharmeshvar Mahadev (Dharamraj) Temple: Dharamraj, known as Dharmeshvar mahadev was given a seat on the northern corner of Chaurasi by Maru Varman. It is the belief of locals that every departed soul stands here to seek final permission of Dharamraj to proceed ahead and travels through this temple after death seeking dwelling in Shiva Loka. It is believed to be the court of Dharamraj and is locally called ‘dhai-podi’, which means two and half steps.
- Ganesh or Ganpati Temple: Lord Ganesha temple is situated near the entrance of Chaurasi temple, Bharmour. The temple was constructed by the rulers of the Varman dynasty as stated in an inscription erected in the temple, by Meru Verman in circa 7th century A.D. The wooden temple of ganesha was probably set on fire in Kira invasion of Bharmour and image was mutilated by cutting off legs. The temple of Ganesha is enshrined in a bronze image of Ganesha. This magnificent image is life size with both legs missing.
Myths and legends
It is believed the land was firstly watched by goddess Bharmani Devi. One day 84 Siddhas, who had come from Kurukshetra, were passing through Bharmour to visit Manimahesh along with Lord Shiva. He asked Bharmani Devi if they could take shelter for the night at Bharmour. Bharmani Devi allowed them but the next day when she woke up she saw smoke and fire. She saw that the 84 siddhas had settled on her land. Angry at this trespassing she ordered Shiva and the siddhas to get out of the place as she believed that now the people would pray to Lord Shiva and her level of importance would fall. Shiva importuned in all his humility and to console Bharmani Devi he said "whoever comes to Manimahesh first had to take a dip in the pool of Bharmani Devi then only the yatra will be completed". To this Bharmani Devi went to the ridge of Bhudhal valley and from there at any point no one can see the Chaurasi temple. Lord Shiva left but the 84 siddhas transformed themselves into 84 Shivlingas as they fell in love with the calmness of Bharmour and reconciled to meditate here.
Bharmani Mata Temple
- Bharmani Mata temple complex is at the top of the ridge covered with full of pine and deodar trees situated 4 km from the Bharmour. The place is mainly known for Goddess Bharmani Mata one of the avatars of Durga Ma. Bharmani Devi is the patron Goddess of people of Bharmour. There is Bharmani holy pool in front of Bharmani Mata temple. The dip in the pool is compulsory to complete the holy Manimahesh Yatra. It is believed that Goddess Bharmani had stolen this holy water from Lord Sandhola Naag which is located on another side of the ridge. Seven water streams are coming from the bottom of cave which are presently serving water supply facility to Bharmour and running many flourmills. The place is mountainous with aesthetic natural beauty and gives glorious view of beautiful Bharmour.
Problems within Bharmour
Why the craft is dying?
Gaddi tribe’s craft is dying because the sheep is of old times, hence the wool is hard and rough which is not suitable for skin and causes rashes. To avoid this the government started giving them chemicals to soften the wool, but due to the greed of money, people tend to sell their sheep’s and take money by saying that “It died because of their medicine” and took the insurance from the government.But the government thought that when the same medicine can work in the New Zealand (same environment) then how they can die here, hence the government stopped putting efforts in the tribe and therefore the craft is dying. Lack of proper grazing field is another cause.Increasing opportunity in other occupation have also negative impact on Gaddi tribe's craft.
- No proper sanitation.
- Garbage dumping anywhere and everywhere.
- Water streams highly polluted.
- Dam leakage problems.
- Too much construction causing the land to weaken.Government doesn’t support the people and their craft hence it has become very difficult for the artisans to earn their livelihood, therefore they don’t want their coming generations to learn this craft or come in this occupation.Temples are not so well maintained by the authorities.
The place remain vacant for years....