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Manali, a much popular tourist destination is in the state of Himachal Pradesh at an altitude of 2,050 metres above sea level.

The perfect getaway from a scorching summer in the rest of the country, it is popular among families and honeymooners who want to experience the crispy cool air that envelops the majestic mountains. Sightseeing in Manali can take you to interesting places associated with history, traditions and culture.

For a glimpse of the local culture in Manali, there’s no better way to begin than with a visit to the Hidimba Temple. At a secluded location amidst a thickly wooded pine tree forest, the temple is named after the famous demon from the epic Mahabharat, Hidimba. Locally referred to as Hidimba Devi Temple, or Hadimba or the Dhungiri Temple, it is one of the most culturally significant places to visit in Manali. This little tourist attraction has risen to so such prominence over the years that tourists believe their sightseeing in Manali is incomplete without a visit to the Hidimba Devi Temple.

Mythological Background - The Demon Deity

Her name brought chills down many a spine, for Hidimba was a ferocious demon who ruled the area around the Hidimba Devi Temple. She, along with her brother created havoc in the surrounding villages. People lived in absolute fear during her reign. As the legend goes, the Pandavas were passing by this region and the mighty Bheema among the Pandava brothers spotted Hidimba and fell in love with her. After slaying her brother, he married Hidimba and lived with her around this region in Manali for a year. During this time, Hidimba gave birth to their son Ghatotkach. Bheema then left and proceeded to join his brothers while Hidimba stayed back and nurtured their son till adulthood. Once Ghatotkach became an adult, she left for the higher summits in the Himalayas and turned to a life of penance and repentance for her sins. She worshipped Goddess Durga with such devotion that she could transform herself from her former demon self into a deity.

Today, the deity Hidimba, known locally as the avatar of Goddess Durga is worshipped at the Hidimba Devi Temple. There is also a temple outside dedicated to Ghatotkach. The surrounding lush splendour is another reason for the temple to be among the best places to visit in Manali.

Unique Temple Structure:

Nestled in the thickly wooded Dhungiri cedar forest, therefore the name Dhungiri Temple, as the locals call it, the Hidimba Devi Temple built primarily of wood and some mud and stone is like none other. There are four storeys, each attributing a conical shape that the temple eventually assumes as it reaches upwards, and leads to a 24 metre-tower above them all. The doors feature intricate carvings depicting various stories of the Mahabharat, about the main character, Lord Krishna, and other deities. The temple has exquisite carvings etched in stone and placed firmly over mud walls that have stood the test of time. The Hidimba Devi Temple, dedicated to the local deity Hidimba was built by Raja Bahadur Singh in 1553. History and archaeology enthusiasts and religious people consider the Hidimba Devi Temple as one of the most important places to visit in Manali.

The temple, including the inner sanctum, is devoid of any idol except giant footprints in stone representing the Goddess Hidimba.

Cultural Significance

Hidimba is considered the mountain deity, and the local people revere her immensely. They seek her grace and blessings before any important occasion and always offer prayers to appease her if the surrounding villages face calamities or any hindrance. The rituals here are unlike any other place. It is sometimes fierce and intense even.

For some deeper cultural immersion around the temple, visit during the annual festival, when people from surrounding villages bring their deities, all decorated in vermilion and gleaming pieces of cloth to the Hidimba Devi Temple. People partake in rituals, dances and other cultural activities. Delicious local food can be relished here during the festival. Drum beats and trumpets electrify the atmosphere. The Himalayan mountains reaching up to the skies add to the mystic beauty unleashed in total grandeur at the temple.

 

Local Dance nati program

Sightseeing in Manali can get more colourful than you can imagine. At the annual festival, the Himachal folk dance of Nati or Kullu Nati is performed at the Hidimba Devi Temple. A performance, while not within the Hidimba Devi Temple was entered in the Guinness Book of Records, as the largest folk dance with over 9000 women taking part. It’s definitely interesting to watch this dance form as locals show up in traditional attires of ghagras, and cholis. Traditional silver and gold jewellery complement the costumes while ornate fans and handkerchiefs complete the look.

Quick Facts:

1. Apart from the annual festival, even during the rest of the year, the Hidamba Devi Temple is a haven of peace. The vibes are calming and the sight is beautiful to behold. Winters present an even better sight and the peace is overwhelming among the snow-capped peaks.

2. Timings: 8 AM to 6 PM

3. The Hidamba Devi Temple is a two-kilometre walk from the Joginder Nagar Railway Station. However, remember to wear appropriate shoes, preferably ones you can trek in, as the route is slightly slippery. Normal slippers or heels are definitely not recommended.

4. The nearest airport is the Kullu Manali Airport at Bhuntar, 52.2 kilometres away from the Hidimba Devi Temple. You can hire a cab from the airport to reach the temple. The car ride would take about 2-2.5 hours.

5. Other attractions at the temple include taking pictures with local animals like fluffy goats and bunnies that children might enjoy.

There is much to explore among the many historically relevant and tourist places to visit in Manali, besides this famous temple. To take a leisurely tour around the places to visit in Manali, book a stay in a comfortable hotel. Sightseeing in Manali with your family is a fantastic experience. For impeccable hospitality and comfort, check into Club Mahindra Manali resort with your family. The rooms are elegant and comfortable, with spacious rooms and modern amenities. Do not forget to dine in the in-house multi-cuisine restaurant at Manali Resort and savour the delicious local Himachal cuisine. For more details, do go through the Club Mahindra reviews available online.

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