A Natural Delight
Wide at places for once it was proper road, the steep path plunges down the hillside. In a few places have mosses mixed with grass dared impose themselves for centuries of use and immeasurable quantities of pouring rain and melting snow have worn down the thin top soil. Exposed tree roots snake across the deeply embedded boulders that lie under the fine dust.
Prised loose from the rock, some small stones are littered and tumble as unsure feet hit them. Somewhere crushed to a shapeless fibre and somewhere flawlessly intact, pine and spruce cones lie sprawled in the sunshine along the path's sloping edges. By its sides, neatly sliced along the wooded hill, are grain filled fields, orchards and banks of dancing daises.
The Valley Of Trees
The path to Sipur begins at Mashobra and its tree lined shaded ends at Sipur where seven springs feed the slim brooks that slither through the rich grass. But it is the centuries old Deodar (Himalayan Cedar) trees that have given these acres of land a unique character. And they are sacred. No one may cut them and the villagers who cross by dust themselves before leaving the glade lest some fallen needles from the branches have settled on their hair and clothes.
These trees- like the glade- 'belong' to the local deity seep, whose personality has now merged with Lord Shiva's (as elsewhere in the state, many local deities are identified as versions from the central pantheon of Hindu Gods and Goddesses. Often, the local tutelary deity could be a man deified even in his lifetime).
How much these trees meant to Seep can be gauged from the local legend that speaks of the time when he was away on a pilgrimage. Villagers from the adjoining valley stole one of the Cedars and when Seep came to know of it, he rained a hail of iron on the thieving village.
While geologists may have other explanations for the devastated look of the hillside on the way to Naldehra, even today, people from Seep's side of the hill do not marry in the other belt. The stolen tree is in the villlage of Shanel and as it had been uprooted from its actual home, it has an 'upside down' appearance. While most Deodars grow straight and stately, this has a series of multiple trunks, quite like roots reaching for the heavens.
Who Seep was is not really clear, but he is supposed to have been brought centuries ago when the founders of the erstwhile princely state of Koti are said to have migrated to the area. At the time of this migration, this tract was controlled by local strongmen, Mavis, who also wished to share in the worship of seep, but the people who had brought him would not allow this. The upshot was that the Mavis would desecrate the temple, which had been built in the village of Nehra.
Speaking through his worshippers, seep declared that he wished to move from Nehra, adding that a line of ants would soon march through the village and where they finally circled a mound was where he finally wanted to reside. The line of ants did come the story goes, and they marched through the woods and stopped on a spur that juts out of the hillside.
The Temple Of Deothi
Here, at the village of Deothi is Seep's actual temple - he only visits the glade of Sipur, which is named after him, thrice a year. Rebuilt at various times, and most recently in the last quarter of the 19th century, the temple at Sipur is a superb example of vernacular temple architecture. Interestingly, a folk carving on an eavesboard depicts two figures - obviously colonial Englishmen by their dress - shooting a tiger. Sipur is the site for an annual fair held on the second Sunday of April and the walk between Sipur and Deothi through woods is a naturalist's delight.
Shimla has an
airport, 22 km away, from the main city with regular flights to
airport, 120 km away on the plains, has flights at more regular intervals.
The flights to Shimla may be called off, during the winter months of
December, January and February, so you will need to check them up in
Rail: Kalka is the nearest railhead from Shimla.
Road: Sipur is just 12-km from Shimla, which is very well connected by road to all the major cities within the state as well as from other state. There are regular state transport buses and private ones plying from Shimla to Sipur, as it makes quiet a good hop over destination for a day from Shimla. PLACES TO STAY
Even if Sipur makes a nice place for picniking, its still better to check out accommodation at the nearby Mashobra or at Shimla, which is well equipped with luxurious to mid-range and budget accommodations.
Chandigarh : 117-km