“Hanumanji once mistook the glowing sun as a fruit and flew up to the sky to reach for it”. Neem Karoli Baba must have had something similar in his mind when he chose this spot in 1950, which has the most mesmerizing sunsets, as the location of Hanuman temple. Hanumangarh has always has been my favorite escape among places to visit in Nainital of Uttarakhand. It’s not that I am very religious but there is something about this place which brings out what can be closest to ‘spirituality’ in me. There is also a Mazzar nearby (In Manura Village) where a lot of Muslims come to offer their prayers.
While I was doing my research for this article, I recognized many of the websites have mistaken Hanumangarh with Pilot Baba Mandir (Which has a Huge Hanuman Statue of 3 m) and is located in Bhowali – Haldwani road. If you want to know how to reach Hanumangarh, the gem I am talking about is approximately at a distance of 3 km from Nainital and lies in Nainital – Kathgodam road.
Away from all the buzz of the crowd, the place is tranquility personified. There is a small park just before the temple where you can see the magic happen when the sun goes down. The park used to be much greener and had a lot of trees, until forest department destroyed it to build compartments, only to re-make it into a less greener park.
Neem Karoli Baba is said to be the reincarnation of Hanumanji. His teachings has much to with “Loving Kindess”. Another and more famous temple of Guruji is Kainchi Dham. The beautiful temple has idols of other God and Goddesses including Rama, Laxmana, Anjana, Durga and Shivji.
You are allowed to spent as much time in the temple campus .There is something divine about the ethos of the temple, not one of those where there are long queues to bribe the Gods. It’s a perfect blend of serene Nature and Spirituality.
There was a case of a robbery few years ago, since then they have installed CCTV cameras and steel wiring across the Temple Area. Banners like “YOU ARE UNDER SURVEILLANCE OF CCTV CAMERA”, “PHOTOGRAPHY IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED”, “SWITCH OFF YOUR MOBILE PHONES” have cropped up. These do hurt your eyes a little. It’s like saying that you are on the Big Boss Show or Gods are not photogenic. Its a temple lets keep it at that.
Apart from the daily rituals of Arti and Bhog. On special days such as Ram Navami, Shivaratri, Hanuman Jayanti, and 15th June (Celebrated in memory of Neem Karoli Maharaj). Devotees from around the city gather here to receive blessings and prasad. The world’s best Hanuman stututi is sung here on Tuesdays along with many bhajans including my favorite “Mere Gurudev k Charno Par Suman Shrada Kai Arpit Hai”.
Another famous temple by the name of Sheetla Devi Mandir is located in close proximity with the Hanumangarh Temple. To reach Sheetla Devi Temple one has to climb 105 stairs. In the temple compound, filled with rhododendron forest, there is a practice of tying a knot on the grass while making a wish to the Goddess.
On completion of wish, this knot has to be undone. Next to the Sheetla Devi temple lies Lila Sah Bapu Ashram.The best thing about Ashram is you sometime get chocolates as Prasada. There is a small shop, before the temple, provides prasad. They make the best Baisan k Ladoo and Bundhi. I hope both Hanumanji and the pilgrim would love it. The shop also provides tea and snacks.
A few vedors sell photo frames of Gurudev, Rudrahsh malla, and a hollogram in which if you look closely and long enough, you can see God, Ganesha, Lord Ram and many others. If you have a time in your hand, half a km before Hanumangarh goes a trail to Manura Village. The trail is full of lush green forest.
There’s a small temple over looking the village. When you visit Hanumangarh, then you also get an excellent view of the village and the valley. Its one of the offbeat places in Nainital to explore out.