THE SECENIC Parvati Valley, with its green, terraced rice fields and apple orchards draws an increasing number of visitors. However, because of illegal marijuana cultivation in the surrounding countryside, the Parvati Valley has, in recent years, gained notoriety as a centre for the narcotics trade, and several foreign visitors have gone missing from the area. It is advisable to take guides and porters available from Naggar and Manilaran, for treks in this region.

The main settlement in the Parvati Valley is Manikaran, famous for its hot springs. It is also the starting point for a number of treks. An interesting legend explains the origins of the hot springs. A serpent stole the earrings of Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva, and disappeared with them into a deep burrow. On witnessing Shiva’s terr ble anger, the snake was too terrified to come out of its hole, but managed to snort the earrings out through the earth, Monal thus creating vents from which the hot springs bubble out. A bath here is said to be good for the body and the soul, and local people sometimes boil rice in the geo-thermal steam. The Rama Temple and the Shiva Temple next to a Sikh gurdwara is always thronged with sadhus.

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