Bhimakali Temple

Top choice in Himachal Pradesh

What makes Sarahan so instantly distinctive are the 'twin towers' of its fabulous Bhimakali Temple, best photographed from behind with a backdrop of distant soaring peaks. Like the three surrounding courtyard buildings, the constructions are of layered stone and timber (to absorb the force of earthquakes), topped with a storey or two of intricately carved wood panelling and heavy slate roofing.

One originally 12th-century tower collapsed fairly recently but has been beautifully restored. The other (left) dates from the 1920s, and both contain highly revered shrines to Bhimakali (the local version of Kali) on canopied silver thrones. Armed with a bayonetted old rifle, a jovial guard at the inner courtyard ensures that cameras, mobile phones and leather goods are deposited in little lockers (free) and that male visitors don a requisite cap (provided).

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