Baijnath Temple

Top choice in Himachal Pradesh

Between Palampur and Bir, don't miss a stop in Baijnath, whose uninteresting main-street buildings hide one of Himachal's most exquisite ancient temples. Though small, the 1204 stone structure retains superb carvings of sensual figures reminiscent of those on the Khajuraho temples. It's still very much active and the setting is a further bonus: in a grassy area high above the Binwa River with a lovely backdrop of mountains.

The temple is sacred to Shiva in his incarnation as Vaidyanath, Lord of the Physicians. Buses between Palampur and Mandi stop at Baijnath bus station, almost opposite the temple. Baijnath Paprola station on the Pathankot–Jogindernagar railway is 2km west. Thousands of pilgrims make their way to the temple during the Shivaratri Festival on the new moon night of Phalgun.

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