Monday, April 15, 2013

Hidimba Devi Temple, Manali Himachal Pradesh

Day 2: 19th December 2011

Manali has many attractions but the main attraction of all, historically and archaeologically is the Dhoongri Temple dedicated to goddess Hidimba, an epic story from Mahabratta. It has 4 tiered Pagoda shaped roof and the doorway is carved with legendary figures and symbol. We were told by the locals that a large festival is held here in May. The place was our first stop for the day, touring Manali.

Hidimdi Devi Temple, also known as the Hadimdi Temple, is related to Dimasa Kachari living in North East India. Dimasa Kachari (Hidimba) was a son of the soil of Assam. It is an ancient cave temple dedicated to Hidimba Devi, sister of Hidimba,who was a character in the Indian epic, Mahabharata. The temple is surrounded by a cedar forest at the foot of the Himalayas. The sanctuary is built over a huge rock cutting out of the ground, which was worshiped as an image of the deity. From a record, the structure was built in 1553.

The Hidimdi Devi Temple has intricately carved wooden doors and a 24 meters tall wooden "shikhar" or tower above the sanctuary. The tower consists of three square roofs covered with timber tiles and a fourth brass cone-shaped roof at the top. The earth goddess Durga forms the theme of the main door carvings

Few minutes after our arrival, other tourists started to emerge. I followed one of them offering his prayer inside the temple house. It was a bit warm inside. I observed the way he bowed down, just like our 5 daily prayer (Muslim). I was wondering whether he is a Muslim too but dared not ask. 

The temple base is made out of whitewashed, mud-covered stonework. An enormous rock occupies the inside of the temple, only a 7.5 cm (3 inch) tall brass image representing goddess Hidimdi Devi. A rope hangs down in front of the rock,and according to a legend, in bygone days religious zealots would tie the hands of "sinners" by the rope and then swing them against the rock.

The Indian epic Mahabharata narrates that Pāndavas stayed in Himachal during their exile. In Manali, a strongest person named Hidimba,a brother of Hidimdi, attacked them, and in the ensuing fight, Bhima, the strongest Pandav killed him. Bhima and Hidimba's sister, Hidimdi, then got married and had a son, Ghatotkacha, (who later proved to be a great warrior in the war against Kauravas).When Bhima and his brothers returned from exile, Hidimdi did not accompany him,but stayed back and did tapasyā (a combination of meditation, prayer, and penance) so as to eventually attain the status of a goddess. 

Outside the temple compound, we saw a local lady with her abnormally huge size of rabbit offering us all for photo. She charged each photo with her rabbit for Rs10. Outside the gate, another locals waiting with his yak. Also charged at certain rupees, which we did not bothered to check.

To be continued....
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