The historic town of Mandi (800 m) is built along the banks of the
river Beas. It has long been an important commercial centre and the
sage Mandva is said to have meditated here. This one time capital of
the princely state of Mandi is a fast developing town that still
retains much of its original charm and character. Today, it is a
district headquarters. Mandi is renowned for its 81 old stone temples
and their enormous range of fine carving, it is often called the
'Varanasi of the Hills'. The town has remains of old palaces and
notable examples of 'colonial' architecture. The temples of Bhutnath,
Trilokinath, Panchvaktra and Shyamakali are among the more famous ones.
The week long international Shivratri fair, Mandi is the major
attraction of the area every year. In the year 2010 the fair was
celebrated from 13th -19th February. In the fair the activities like
cultural programmes in the evenings, exhibitions, sports etc. are the
major attractions for the tourists as well as locals.
The New Town: The ultimate effects of the colossal construction were to generate many thousands KW of electric energy, which combined with a canalization of the waters has extended irrigation over ten million acres, to help in feeding the teeming millions. The Gobindsagar reservoir behind the dam is 80-km long on whose banks has sprung the new township of Bilaspur. Two big generating stations have been built just below the Bhakra Dam, each with a capacity of 600 millions watts.
Deoli: Asia's biggest mirror carp hatchery is situated here, at a distance of 13-km from the town. Kandror Bridge: While the town is situated on the lake created by the highest bridge in India, Kindror Bridge is the second highest bridge in the world and is 22-km from Bilaspur.
Markand: Himachal has always been the favourite stamping grounds of the ancient Rishis or Sage. Here they performed penances and sought cures for mankind in their orisons or prayers. Markand is 25-km from Bilaspur, is where Maharishi Markand performed the strictest austerities on his body to delve into the secrets unknown to man. A dip in the sacred waters over here is a sure cure, it is believed, for infant diseases and sterility. There is also a famous shrine about 20-km from Bilaspur, in tehsil Sadar named after renowned Rishi Markandeya, who lived and worshiped there. According to a legend, a tunnel connected Markand and Vyas cave and the two rishis, Vyas and Markand used to visit each other through this sub-terrain path. In addition to a shrine there is also a water spring of ancient fame where a night fair is held annually on Baisakhi day.
Bahadurpur Fort: On the top of a hill known as Bahadurpur the highest point (1,980m) in the district near Tepra Village in Paragana Bahadurpur, after covering a distance of about 40-km from Bilaspur. The beautiful woods of deodar and ban trees embellish this range. It is just 6-km above Namhol, from this high place the Ratanpur Fort, Swarghat, the Fatehpur Fort, the Naina Devi hill, plains near Ropar and the mountains of Shimla can be seen. This Fort was built prior to 1835, but now is in its ruins.
Shri Naina Devi Ji: A notable place of worship in the district is the temple of Shri Naina Devi Ji, situated on the hill top which rises some 9,15m above the sacred town of Anandpur Sahib in Ropar. The temple stands on the very summit of the hill above a small bazar and is reached by a long flight of stone steps or by a cable car. Sariun Fort: To the eastern side of the Tiun range, on the lifty range and peak of Sariun like this stronghold at an elevation of about 1,500m above M.S.L and is about 58-km.from Bilaspur. Tradition holds that the fort was originally built by the same Raja of the erstwhile Suket State and was subsequently wrested by the ruler of Bilaspur, the local people entertain a superstition according to which, the stones once forming part of the Fort are not used in any residential building.
Tiun Fort: Relics of this fort is situated on the top of a hill known as the Tiun range, at distance of about 55-Km.from Bilaspur, on the Ali Khad crossing Ghumarwin-Ladraur motorable road and about 10-km from Ghumarwin. Vyas Cave: The name of sage Vyas is well known in this part. Situated at the foot of the new township, the belief is that Vyas Rishi meditated in this cave. The origin of the town, Vyaspur is believed to have been derived from this cave. Lying on the left bank of river Satluj, this place is famous as a pilgrimage too.
Swarghat: Swarghat is ideally situated about 40-km.off Bilaspur on the Bilaspur-Chandigarh road. Perched at an elevation of about 1,220m from sea level, Naina Devi temple and Bhakra Dam, are also approachable from here. There is also a temple dedicated to Lakshmi Narayan.
Bhakra Dam: Situated at Bhakra village of Bilaspur, about 13-km upstream from Nangal township, it is one of the highest straight gravity dams in the world. The lake is about 90-km long, covering an area of about 168-sq-km of which 90% is in Bilaspur and 10% in Una district. The dam was dedicated to nation by late Pt. Jawahar Lal Nehru on November 20th, 1963. The view of vast dam and green jungles around is fascinating indeed.
HOW TO GET THERE
Air: Chandigarh and Bhuntar are the nearest airports, located at 135-km and 131-km from Bilaspur.
Rail: The nearest broad gauge railway station is at Kiratpur Sahib and nearest narrow gauge railway station is at Shimla, which are connected by regular bus services.
Road: Bilaspur is approachable by road from Shimla and Chandigarh.
WHERE TO STAY
Accommodation options in and around Bilaspur vary from luxurious hotels such as HTPDC's Hotel at Swarghat to reasonable budget hotels.
Situated in the hot temperature zone the climate of Bilaspur ranges from high temperature to sub tropical and snow rarely falls over here.
FAIRS & FESTIVALS
The Nalwari or Annual cattle fair is held at Bilaspur for four or five days in March / April months, the occasion is marked by wrestling and other amusements. Cattle are brought from Nalagarh and neighboring parts of Punjab to sell over here.