Nestled in the pine covered valley of Manali in Himachal Pradesh, Hidimba Devi Temple is a unique shrine devoted to Hidimba Devi, the wife of Bheem and the mother of Ghatotkach. Enclosed by lush green and dense cover of cedar forests, this stunning shrine is built on a rock which is considered as the representation of Goddess Hidimba herself, in which she sat for meditation for her penance to remove her demon identity.
Locally known as Dhungari temple, Hidimba Devi Temple boasts of a Pagoda-style architecture which is entirely different from any other Hindu temples. With its wooden doorways, intricately carved walls made of stone, and cone-shaped roof, the temple is a simple yet brilliant architecture and fitting for the forest-dwelling goddess residing in it .
The Hidimba Devi Temple is dedicated to Hidimba, the wife of the second Pandav brother, Bheema (the five brothers who are the main characters in the Hindu epic Mahabharat). She was a demoness and resided in this area with her brother Hidimb. She had vowed to marry anyone who would kill her brother and that wish came true when Bheem killed Hidimb in a quest to save the villagers while they were on exile and had visited Manali. Bheem married Hidimba and had a son named Ghatotkach who died fighting bravely for the Pandavas during the battle of Mahabharath and now has a shrine devoted to him ear the Hidimba Devi temple.
When Bheem and his brothers left from Manali, Hidimba stayed behind to look after the kingdom and her son. When Ghatotkach came of age, she went into the forest to meditate and get rid of her demoness personality. After a hard penance on sitting on a rock for years, her wish was granted, and she was crowned with the title of a goddess and this temple was constructed on this rock in 1553 to honor her penance.
The Hidimba Devi Temple is built in the well-known ‘Pagoda style’ with four stories and a flat roof. The top roof is conical in shape and is covered in metal, while the other roofs are covered with timber tiles. The temple is built using mainly wood and stones and has intricately carved wooden doors with a 24-meter high wooden ‘shikhar’ or tower above the temple.
The main door of the temple has carvings illustrating goddess Durga and the interior is kept simple with only walls adorned with carvings of gods, goddesses, and animals. The sanctum sanctorum of the temple does not contain any idol of Devi Hidimba, instead, the rock is placed there in which she sat for meditation. The temple is enclosed by pine trees and looks beautiful, particularly in the snowy winters.
A few meters away, a shrine dedicated to Ghatotkach is there which consists of a stone block with the impression of what is considered to beHidimba’s foot.
The temple is situated in middle of pine trees, in a breath-taking and peaceful location It is open to visitors from 8 AM to 6 PM Daily, and there is no entrance fee for the visitors.
Joginder Nagar railway station in Himachal Pradesh state is the nearest station to Hadimba Temple, located at 165.3 km. But most visitors prefer the railway stations of Chandigarh or Ambala cities, as these connect to major cities of the country.
The nearest major airport to reach this place is the Indira Gandhi international airport at Delhi , which is located 562 kms or 349.2 miles away and takes about 11 hours to reach by road.
Abode of Goddess Hidimba with a unique architectural style, Hidimba Devi Temple lies in the lap of nature surrounded by lush greenery in Manali and is a beautiful representation of mythology and devotion combined.