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Radioactivity or Religious Belief: what is the reason behind Manikaran Hot Spring


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Manikaran is located in the Parvati Valley on river Parvati, northeast of Bhuntar in the Kullu District of Himachal Pradesh. This small town attracts tourists visiting Manali and Kullu to its hot springs and pilgrim centres. The springs at Manikaran come out to surface with pressure and are very hot. There is no sulphur or iron mixed in the waters, but it is said to be radio active. The water of these springs is so much hot that pulses ( dal ), rice, vegetables etc. can be boiled and cooked in it. There is a Gurudwara here serving visitors and provides night stay. In the Gurudwara, the dal, rice and vegetables are boiled in the hot water and served to the visitors after cooking them fine and surprisingly the meal is tasty. Vegetables etc. are cooked in a pan resting on the hot water. Usually the meal is cooked fine in 20 minutes. Even 'chapatis' are cooked by immersion. The heat near the boiling place, where the meal is cooked, is so high that inhabitual persons can not even stand and tolerate the heat for some minutes. There are lot of Religious believes and Scientific reasons attached to it.

Religious Belief:

Sikh belief

According to the Sikhs, during third Udasi, the founder of Sikhism Guru Nanak came to this place in 15 Asu 1574 Bikrami with his disciple Bhai Mardana. Mardana felt hungry and they had no food. Guru Nanak sent Mardana to collect food for the langar (the Community Kitchen). Many people donated atta (flour) to make Roti(bread). The one problem was that there was no fire to cook the food. Guru Nanak asked Mardana to lift a stone and he complied and a hot spring appeared. As directed by Guru Nanak, Mardana put the rolled chapatis in the spring to his despair the chapatis sank. Guru Nanak then told him to pray to God saying that if his chapatis float back then he would donate one chapati in His name. When he prayed all the chapatis started floating duly baked. Guru Nanak said that anyone who donates in the name of God, his drowned items float back.

Hindu belief

The legend of Manikaran states that while roaming around, Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, once chanced upon a place that was surrounded by mountains and was lush green. Enamoured by the beauty of the place, they decided to spend some time there. It is believed that they actually spent eleven hundred years here.

During their stay here, Goddess Parvati lost her mani (precious stone) in the water of a stream. Upset over the loss, she asked Shiva to retrieve it. Lord Shiva commanded his attendant to find the mani for Parvati. However, when they failed, he was extremely angry. He opened his third eye, a tremendously inauspicious event which led to disturbances in the universe. An appeal was made before the serpent god, Sheshnag, to pacify Lord Shiva. Sheshnag hissed thereby giving rise to a flow of boiling water. The water spread over the entire area resulting in the emergence of precious stones of the type Goddess Parvati had lost. Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati were happy at the outcome.

The name Manikaran is derived from this legend. The water is still hot and is considered extremely auspicious. A pilgrimage to this place is thought of as complete. It is also believed that there is no need to pay a visit to Kashi after visiting this place. The water of the spring is also supposed to have curative powers. The water is so hot that rice can be cooked in it.

Scientific Reason:

The reason behind the hot spring is the presence of Radioactive element. The water contains Bicarbonates.

How Do Bicarbonates in Water Affect Your Health?

Bicarbonates are negatively charged ions that help to regulate the acidity you have in your body. Bicarbonates help to keep your PH levels in balance. St. Yorre water with its high levels of bicarbonates is said to have a positive effect on digestion, on hydration levels especially after exercise, and on urinary health.

Health Benefits of High Bicarbonate Water:

1) High Bicarbonate Water Helps to Prevent Urinary Problems:

Drinking water that is high in minerals, particularly bicarbonates, reduces the acidity in the body which results in reduced levels of calcium excretion – and reduced risk of renal stones.

A 2009 study from the University of Bologna, Italy shows that intake of a high bicarbonate water is a useful preventative treatment for urinary conditions including urinary tract infection. The intake of this water increases urinary volume as well as causing changes to the composition of the urine which makes it beneficial for preventing stone formation.

And a 2007 study from the Medical School of Hanover, Germany demonstrates that drinking mineral waters containing high bicarbonate levels decreases the risk of urinary stone formation. The study looked at 34 people with history of stone formation to arrive at the positive results.

2) High Bicarbonate Water Can Improve Hydration Status in Athletes:

The results of a 2012 study from the University of Naples, Italy show that supplementing with a high-bicarbonate mineral water improves hydration status in athletes after they take part in a short burst of exercise. The study demonstrated that hydration with the high bicarbonate water had a positive effect on PH and on hydration status compared to regular water.

3) Bicarbonate Decreases Dental Acidity:

Drinking water high in bicarbonates could help you to avoid dental cavities, according to experts.Bicarbonate decreases the acidity in the mouth which leads to lesser risk of decay, and bicarbonate may also inhibit plaque formation on teeth and increase calcium uptake. A 2006 study from the Central University of Venezuela, Caracas, Venezuela shows that bicarbonate helps to lower the incidence of dental cavities in schoolchildren over a two-year period.

However, High Bicarbonate Water is Possibly Risky.....

If you have kidney disease the high levels of fluoride in mineral water can cause bone damage. The relatively high levels of fluoride in Vichy St. Yorre high bicarbonate water may cause problems for people with renal failure, according to a 1985 study by Boivin G, et al. The ingestion of high bicarbonate water let to bone fluorosis in vulnerable people.

If you want to supplement your diet with high bicarbonate mineral water then go ahead – it seems this natural water could be of benefit to your health. Plus, increasing your hydration levels by drinking plenty of mineral water has health benefits regardless of the mineral content.
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