Sharma to open Chandra-Bhaga Sangam fest in Himachal

Manali: Union Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma will inaugurate daylong Chandra-Bhaga Sangam Parv in Himachal Pradesh’s Lahaul-Spiti district on Monday, event organisers said on Sunday.

He will be accompanied by Haryana Chief Minister Haryana Manohar Lal Khattar and Himachal Pradesh’s two-time former Chief Minister and BJP leader Prem Kumar Dhumal, who have reached the festival spot, they said.

Sharma himself tweeted: “To participate in the Chandra-Bhaga Sangam Mahotsav, I am on a two-day tour of Himachal from today (Sunday).”

Taking a leaf from the success of Leh’s Sindhu Darshan festival, locals of the picturesque Lahaul Valley have decided to hold a similar event every summer at the confluence of the Chandra and Bhaga rivers that makes for a mix of virgin nature and Buddhism.

“We are holding Chandra-Bhaga Sangam Parv at Tandi on June 12 which will see a congregation of Buddhist and Hindu spiritual leaders and followers,” Chander-Bhaga Sangam Parv Samiti President Chander Mohan Parsheera told IANS.

The festival, which aims to promote unity and communal harmony in the country, is the second in the series.

June to September is the best time to visit the Lahaul Valley, dominated mainly by Buddhists.

“Seeing the success of the festival last year, we have decided to hold this festival every year on the pattern of the Sindhu Darshan festival held in Leh,” Parsheera said.

He said the festival would also boost the local tourism industry.

“Last year, more than 8,000 people, mostly locals, participated in the festival. This year we expect more than 10,000 people, including tourists,” he added.

The festival is held at Tandi village, located on the Manali-Leh highway and some 120 km from here, where both the Chandra and Bhaga rivers meet and give birth to the Chandrabhaga, later baptised as the Chenab River.

The main attraction of the festival includes a concert by 100 violinists and a folk dance by over 1,000 local women, besides traditional ceremonies involving Buddhist prayers by senior Lamas.

It is believed that Draupadi, the wife of the five Pandavas, breathed her last near the Chandrabhaga’s confluence and her mortal remains were immersed in the river.

Not open throughout the year, the landlocked Lahaul Valley, comprising over two dozen small and scattered villages, remains cut off owing to heavy snow accumulation from December onwards on the Rohtang Pass (13,050 feet) — the only connection with Manali in Kullu district.

The road links restore only by mid-May when the snows melt. Helicopters are the only mode of transportation for the locals during winter.