Hidimba Devi Temple, Manali
Hidimba Devi Temple (also known as Hadimba Devi Temple) is an ancient cave temple located in Manali, a famous hill station in the hilly state of Himachal Pradesh in India. The temple is dedicated to Hidimba Devi who is mentioned in the great Indian epic Mahabharata as the wife of the great Bhima, one of the Pandavas. Surrounded by a cedar forest, the temple is built over a huge rock. The temple is said to be built in 1553 by Raja Bahadur Singh.
The Hidimba Devi temple is built around a cave where Hidimba performed meditation. Hidimba was born into a rakshas family and lived in the forest with her brother Hidimb who was very brave and fearless. During Pandava's exile, they came to Manali along with their mother Kunti. Bhima, one of the Pandavas killed Hidimb when he was challenged by the latter. Hidimba appeared before Bhima in the form of a beautiful woman and he fell in love with her and they both got married after taking permission from mother Kunti. The couple lived in the valley for about a year after which Bhima joined his brothers and mother. Eventually Hidimba gave birth to a son who was named Ghatotkachh who grew up to be a great warrior and was killed during the Mahabharata war when he was summoned by his father Bhima to help them. After Ghatotkachh grew up and became the ruler, Hidimba retired to the inner forests for meditation and became very spiritual. Hidimba Devi had supernatural powers and was very much kind to her people.
Hidimba Devi Temple, Manali
Hidimba Devi Temple is a pagoda style wooden temple of the Goddess Hidimba at Dhungri, Manali and is said to be about 500 years old. No idol is enshrined in the temple and only a foot-print on a stone is kept within.
The temple has intricately carved wooden doors and a 24 meters tall wooden "shikhar". The tower consists of three square roofs covered with timber tiles and a fourth brass cone-shaped roof at the top. The quadruple wooden door of the temple is ornamented with carvings of various deities. The walls of the temple are decorated with horns of animals, giving it a strange and mysterious look.
An enormous rock occupies the inside of the temple and there is only a 7.5 cm tall brass image representing goddess Hidimba Devi. The imprint of the feet of the Goddess carved on a block of stone is worshipped by the devotees.
Hadimbi, Hadimba, Dhungari Mata
A fair is held every year to commemorate Raja Bahadur Singh who built the temple. The fair is held on the first of Shravan month annually and is named as 'Bahadur Singh Re Jatar.' This fair is also called as Saroohni which symbolizes the completion of the transplanting of paddy.
Another fair is held on 14th May each year in the celebration of birthday of Hidimba Devi. Women around and from Dhungri forest come and celebrate this fair with music and dance.
Hidimba Devi Temple is protected as a monument of national importance because of its architectural and historical importance. There are small shops near the entrance of the temple where the locals sell souvenirs and woolen products. You can also enjoy a ride on the yak or get yourself photographed in local dress or holding a fluffy rabbit.
I visited Hidimba temple around fifteen years back during a vacation to Manali. I was struck by serene and peaceful location of the temple amidst the cedar forest. The huge footprint inside the temple was a clear evidence of the existence of Hidimba Devi and the temple really seemed very ancient. All in all, the visit to this beautiful sacred place was a very enriching experience as you could feel the devotion, faith and a sense of peace dawning upon you.
There is another interesting fact about the temple. When you zoom into the area where Hidimba temple is located via Google Satellite, the imprint of a giant foot spanning across the valley in the area near the temple can be seen. Unbelivable, isn't it?
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Watch Hidimba Devi Temple Manali - Himachal Pradesh (India)
© 2015 Shaloo Walia