Shikari Devi Temple: A Himalayan Gem Nestled in Mandi's Heart


Nestled amidst the awe-inspiring Himalayas, the Shikari Devi Temple stands tall as a magnificent testament to ancient spirituality and unrivaled natural beauty. Located in the Mandi district of Himachal Pradesh, near the Seraj Valley, Janjelhi Valley, and Bagsaid Valley, this sacred site offers a mesmerizing vista of lush pine forests, verdant deodar woods, and sprawling apple orchards. Let's embark on a journey to discover the spiritual and natural wonders surrounding the Shikari Devi Temple.

Shikari Devi Temple

Perched at an elevation of 2850 meters above sea level, the Shikari Devi Temple commands a majestic presence in the heart of Himachal Pradesh. Accessible through challenging treks from Janjheli, Bagsaid, Kandha, or Karsog valleys, reaching the ancient shrine unveils a scenic expedition with multiple routes offering diverse perspectives of the mystical hill.

The Shikari Devi Temple boasts an ancient roofless structure, believed to trace back to the era of the Pandavas during their exile in this sacred region. Towering at 10,768 feet above sea level, it claims the title of the highest peak in the Mandi district, providing awe-inspiring views of the valley, especially on clear days.

Architectural Marvels

Unique Design and Elemental Harmony

One striking feature of the temple is its architecture. Positioned on a flat cemented square platform, the goddess is revered through a stone idol. However, what sets this temple apart is its lack of a roof. Despite various attempts, no one has ever succeeded in building one. Remarkably, even during the harsh winters when the region is blanketed in snow, the temple remains untouched, maintaining an almost mystical charm.

The temple venerates Goddess Kali under the guise of Shikari Devi, translating to the Hunter Goddess. Legend has it that the goddess was revered by hunters, offering them protection from perilous situations. Locals, reflecting this tradition, would present offerings of goats or sheep to appease the goddess, a practice that, despite its historical significance, evokes a somber reflection on the concept of animal sacrifice in this divine land.

A Historical Journey

Mahabharata-Era Origins

Shikari Mata, who was originally revered as Adishakti, appeared before the Pandavas during a crucial moment in their lives when they were playing a game of chance with Duryodhana. The goddess, disguised as an ordinary woman, warned the Pandavas about the dire consequences they would face if they continued gambling - a loss of everything and a descent into beggary.

Despite the divine counsel, the Pandavas ignored the warning due to the goddess's seemingly common appearance and even threatened her to leave. Undeterred, the goddess left, which resulted in the Pandavas being exiled for thirteen years. During their exile, they sought refuge in the Shikari Devi area.

One day, while hunting in the forest, the Pandavas encountered a captivating deer that they chased but could not catch, as it mysteriously vanished into the woods. At nightfall, a celestial voice resonated around the Shikari hilltop, revealing the speaker's identity as the same goddess who had previously warned them during the ill-fated game with Duryodhana.

To regain their lost kingdom, the Pandavas were instructed by a goddess to find her symbolic idols and stone images which were used for worship by the people. They followed her instructions and found the stone images underground. As per the goddess's wishes, they established a roofless temple. The goddess is known as Shikari Mata because she appeared in the hills during a hunt by the Pandavas. With the blessings of the goddess, the Pandavas regained their lost kingdom. Since then, the temple has been visited by thousands of people from all over the country seeking the blessings of Shikari Mata.

Markandeya Purana Connection

The temple finds mention in the holy Markandeya Purana, with sage Markandeya having meditated within its sacred walls. This association adds an extra layer of significance to the spiritual aura that envelops Shikari Devi Temple.

Spiritual Celebrations and Navaratra Fair

Every year, the Shikari Devi Temple hosts the Navaratra fair, which attracts devotees from all over the world. The festivities take place against the stunning backdrop of the Himalayas and create a spiritual atmosphere that allows visitors to fully immerse themselves in the divine energy of the temple.

Shikari Devi Wildlife Sanctuary

Spanning approximately 72 square kilometers, the Shikari Devi Wildlife Sanctuary encompasses a mosaic of landscapes, including lush forests, rolling hills, and serene valleys. This diversity provides a thriving habitat for a wide array of wildlife species, contributing significantly to the sanctuary's ecological significance.

Inception and Conservation Journey

First Notification (1962)

In 1962, a crucial milestone marked the sanctuary's official designation as a protected area. This initiation laid the foundation for dedicated conservation efforts to preserve its unique biodiversity and natural beauty.

Re-notification (1974)

Recognizing the ongoing importance of conservation endeavors, the sanctuary was re-notified on March 27, 1974. This reaffirmation underscored the commitment to safeguarding the area's ecological balance and cultural heritage.

Cultural and Religious Tapestry

The sanctuary derives its name from the esteemed Shikari Devi Temple, an ancient Hindu shrine devoted to the goddess Shikari Devi. This sacred site holds profound religious importance, drawing pilgrims and devotees year-round. The intertwining of the sanctuary's history with the temple highlights the harmonious blend of nature and culture in this revered space.

Sacred Pilgrimage and Access Points

Approachable by road, devotees can undertake a 16-kilometer journey from Jinjheli village, with jeeps facilitating the pilgrimage. The route offers picturesque views on both sides, creating a memorable approach to the sacred site. Climbing 500 stairs from the roadside adds a physical and symbolic dimension to the devotees' journey, culminating in the temple premises.

Shikari Devi Temple, a place that beckons not just pilgrims but also nature lovers, history buffs, and those in search of a serene refuge. With its awe-inspiring surroundings and mystical aura, the temple stands as a testament to the rich cultural heritage of India, seamlessly weaving together spirituality, history, and nature. The tranquil atmosphere of this sacred place creates a harmonious tapestry that captivates and inspires visitors from all corners of the world, making it a must-see destination for anyone seeking an unforgettable spiritual and cultural experience.

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