Hidimba Devi Temple: A Historical Gem of Himachal Pradesh


Imagine a land nestled between the picturesque beauty of Kashmir in the north, the rugged plains of Tibet in the east, the serene landscapes of Uttarakhand and Haryana in the south, and the fertile fields of Punjab in the west - this is the enchanting Himachal Pradesh. As the name suggests, it is a region of the Himalayas, boasting breathtaking natural beauty. The Vyas river meanders gracefully, while apple orchards adorn the mountain slopes, creating a mesmerizing sight. 

Among its many treasures, the Hadimba Devi Temple in Manali stands as a testament to the state's deep-rooted religious traditions and architectural marvels.

Historical and Cultural Significance

The region of Himachal Pradesh now known as 'Kullu' was once referred to as 'Kulant Peeth'. Hidimba was the revered goddess of the entire Kulant region. From ancient times to the present day, Hidimba Devi has been worshipped with deep reverence and faith. The ancient temple dedicated to her is located in a dense cedar forest, which comes as a surprise in the otherwise touristy town of Manali. It's no wonder that the presiding deity of the temple is also known as the Forest Goddess or the Goddess of Nature. While devotees from all over the country visit the temple regularly, local people pray to the Goddess, especially in times of natural calamities.

Mysteries of the Ancient Temple

**The Legend of Bahadur Singh and the Pagoda Shauli Temple**

According to the inscription on the eastern gate, the revered Pagoda Shaili temple was commissioned by king Bahadur Singh, the ruler of the Kullu region, back in 1553. This holy site, which doesn't house an idol, centers its worship around a stone footprint.

The intricate wood carvings adorning the exterior of the temple, depicting flowers, leaves, human, animal, and bird figures, showcase the exceptional craftsmanship of the artisans of that time.

The Artist

Legend has it that the temple's creator devoted both his hands to the Hidimba Devi, after which he refused to create anything else, ensuring that his artistry remained unmatched. Another tale suggests that the king severed the right hand of the temple's architect, only for the artist to defy him by constructing another temple using his left hand.

A Temple by Many Names

Referred to as the Ghanagiri Temple and also known as Dungri Devi (Dungar means mountain)by villagers, this sacred site holds significant cultural and religious importance. Many view it as the embodiment of the powerful goddess Kali Durga Bhavani, worshipping her in times of joy and sorrow.

The Legend of Hidimba Demon

According to local legend, the picturesque area of Kullu Manali was once under the control of the fearsome Hidimba demon. When the Pandavas sought refuge in this region during their exile, Hidimba, the demon, was captivated by the strength and power of Bhima. She transformed herself into a human to win his affection, which ultimately led to a confrontation between Bhima and the demon. After Bhima vanquished the demon Hidimba, he married her with the condition of ending the relationship upon the birth of their son. This union resulted in the birth of a son, Ghatotkacha, who later became a prominent figure in Indian mythology.

The Transformation of Hidimba

Impressed by Bhima's valor, Hidimba renounced her malevolent ways and dedicated her life to raising her son Ghatotkacha. She transformed from a demon into a revered figure, worshipped as the Mother Goddess, and spent her days in devotion and nurturing her son.

The Temple of Hidimba Devi

The Hidimba Devi Temple,  stands as a testament to the love story of Goddess Hidimba and the valiant Bhima. The temple's interior exudes an air of mystery, with the idol of the goddess enshrined beneath a rock and illuminated by the soft glow of a lamp. King Adharupal of Kullu presented a mask of Hidimba Devi to the temple in 1418, adding to the rich history and mystique surrounding the sacred site.

 It is believed that the first ruler of Kullu, Vihangmani Pal, was ordained as king by the goddess herself. The annual 'Jaatar' fair commemorates a legendary incident where the king carried an elderly woman, who was later revealed to be Hidimba Devi, to her home, leading to his ascent to the throne.

Ceremonies and Festivals

A fair is held on the first of Savan every year to honor Raja Bahadur Singh, who constructed the temple. This fair, known as the Bahadur Singh Re Jatar, is also called Saroohni, symbolizing the completion of the transplanting of paddy. The goddess Hadimba is celebrated on the first of 'Jaith' or 14th of May, with another Mela held in the Dhungri forest lasting for three days. Thousands of men, women, and children participate in the Mela, enjoying music, dance, and rice beer (Lungri). Additionally, there is an indigenous ceremony where deities are brought in processions with proper music by their followers to Dhungri. The fair then shifts to the temple of Manu in the village of Manali on the 4th day. In the famous Dussehra fair of Kullu, the chariot of Hadimba Devi is brought first on the shoulders along with drums and a procession.

Also read about : Kullu Dussehra

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