OFTEN REFERRED to as the gateway to the Kullu Valley Mandi is situated at the confluence of the Beas river with a small rain-fed tributary. The capital of the erstwhile princely state of Mandi, this small market town once functioned as a vital link between the hill communities on either side of it. The busy market located in a sunken garden in the centre of town, where all manner of merchandise is sold, is one of the more interesting sights here. Also situated in the town centre is the former residence of the Mandi kings, built in the colonial style, and now the heritage Rajmahal Palace Hotel. Several 16th- to 17th-century temples with beautiful stone carvings can be found all over the town. The most famous among these are the Nadho Rai Temple, the Tarna Devi Temple and the Bhoothnath Temple where the Shivratri festival is celebrated.

ENVIRONS: Rewalsar, a peaceful village at a height of 360 in (1,181 ft) is 24 km (15 miles) southeast of Mandel. On the shores of the Rewalsar Lake, resting in the hollow of mountain spur, are a Buddhist monastery, three temples and a gurdwara commemorating the month-long stay of the tenth Sikh guru, Gobind Singh, in 1738. It is said that Padmasambhava, the 8th century Indian apostle credited with bringing Buddhism to Tibet, used his legendary powers to fly from here to Tibet. His spirit is believed to reside in the tiny floating reed islands on the lake. Mandi’s hinterland contains many other places of scenic beauty. To the east, Jhanjheli and Karsog, both about 100 km (62 miles) away in apple orchard country, offer the possibility of some lovely treks to the hilltop temples of Shikari Devi and Malsunag.

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