If you love being in the company of majestic hills, want to roam free aimlessly under the clear sky and breathe fresh air standing in the middle of mustard fields communicating with the nature, listening to the chirping of birds in chorus with gushing waters of running stream.You need not do much. Simply fill your rucksack with your basic essentials and embark on a hour long train journey from Jammu to reach Manwal, India’s first green railway station powered by solar panels.
Coming out of the Manwal railway station you will be greeted by the calm, green environs and dash of fresh air. As you will look around your eyes will be set on hordes of livestock grazing the fields and majestic mountain peaks at the back. The surroundings resemble humble settings of just any other hill station. So what is so different about Manwal, a small village situated at Dhar road roughly 28 Kms from Udhampur.
Riding on a auto rickshaw, the only mode of cheap local transport, as you will approach the main bazaar passing through the link road dotted with neat and clean village houses, you will start experiencing the earthy charm of a relaxed life. Laziness would soon engulf you and you would be longing for a cozy bed to catch all the lost sleep, far away from the hum drum of hectic life.
The still landscape and picturesque mountain ranges, filled with white snow blanket looks enticing on a bright sunny day.
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As you hit the main road connecting Manwal and Kishenpur, the nearest power station, you will not find any rush hour. A handful of minibuses, auto rickshaws and few odd cars can be seen parked along the main road. Though all kinds of businesses were on yet the number of people present on the main road was even far less than those huddled inside one compartment of metro rail in urban centres across India.
The life moved on at its slow pace. Elderly can be seen playing cards and sitting in small groups outside tea shops and temporary eating points. The school going children were returning home after appearing in their annual exam.The women were busy in daily house hold chores.After soaking yourself in the local environs as you start moving forward a small board on the main road catches your attention.
Painted in white and black colours the board displayed by the Archeological Survey of India guides you to the Ancient Bhagwati temple inside the narrow street.
As you step inside the protected monument you come face to face with the golden history of Manwal village and instantly travel back in to the time machine with every forward step in the right direction.Devi Bhagwati temple was originally dedicated to Vishnu and is dated back to 10-11 century A.D, a local priest Satpal Gupta informs you.
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Along with four other ancient temples Bhagwati temple has been taken over by the Archeological Survey of India for preservation and protection. Compared to four other temples Bhagwati temple is remarkably preserved and is in good form.
It consists of a Garbhgriha (sanctrum) and an Antarala with square Mandapa. The walls of the Mandapa have eight niches.The jambs of the temple are profusely carved with images of different deities.