Some Quick Facts:-
- Other Names : Hadimba or Dhungri Mata temple
- Location : Amidst dense cedar forest called Van Vihar
- Distance : 3km from Bus Stop; on a walking distance from Old Manali
- Location Coordinates : 32.24228′ N, 77.187366′ E
Hidimba Devi Temple is an ancient cave temple of architectural brilliance located in Manali (Himachal Pradesh, India). The temple dates back to 1553 and is dedicated to Hidimbi Devi, wife of one of the Pandavas ‘Bheema’ from Mahabharata epic. The temple was built by Maharaja Bahadur Singh over an enormous rock which was believed to be an image of the deity.
At the first glance, you will fall in love with this quaint little temple. The entire structure is made of wood in Pagoda style with rich carvings on doors and windows. The sanctuary has a three tiered structure covered with square wooden planks, surmounted by a cone-shaped ‘shikhara’ or tower made up of brass. The main entrance of temple has intricate carvings on door centered on goddess Durga. Hidimba Devi is believed to be one of the reincarnations of goddess Durga.
WHAT LEGENDS SAY
According to Mahabharata, Pandavas stayed in Himachal Pradesh during their exile and one of the Pandavas (Bheema) killed Hidimb, brother of Hidimba. Since Hidimba was born in Rakshasa family, she vowed to marry someone who is fearless and would defeat her brother in fight. So she married Bheema and they had a son named Ghatotkacha. A shrine dedicated to Ghatotkacha is also located nearby, some 70 metres away from the temple. The Hidimba Temple is built on place where Hidimba is believed to have done meditation and eventually acquired the status of ‘goddess’. Later on Hidimba Devi emerged as the patron goddess of the Rajas (Kings) of the region. Legends also say that the king ordered to cut the right hands of the artists who build this temple so that they don’t repeat this masterpiece.
WHY SHOULD YOU VISIT IT
The exterior of the temple is decorated with the horns of animals and has pillars ornamented with carvings of deities and rich designs such as knots, animal figures, scrolls etc. At first I was intrigued to find rather scary looking horns of animals as a part of temple décor but later I got to know that these are from the animal sacrifices that had been done through the ages. Although this practice has now been stopped considering the recent law amendments.
The interior of the temple has no idol but a large rock with imprinted footprint of the deity representing goddess Hidimba Devi. Strangely, if you check this place in the Google Satellite and zoom in the area where temple is located, you will notice an imprint of a giant foot extended over the adjoining area of the valley. The believers claim this as the most surprising feature of the temple reassuring faith in the legend behind it. The temple also appeared in the recent Bollywood flick ‘Yeh Jawani Hai Deewani’ among others. A huge fair is also observed on May 14th to mark the birthday celebrations of the deity and rice beer or ‘longri’ is relished.
In view of its historical and architectural importance, the temple was declared ‘protected’ as a monument of national importance by the Indian Government.
You can also choose to take a Yak ride and get photographed with the fluffy Angoora Rabbits outside the temple complex or take a stroll to visit the Ghatotkach temple nearby.