Hidimba Devi Temple, also known as the Hadimba Temple, is located in Manali, a hill station in the State of Himachal Pradesh in north India. It is an ancient cave temple dedicated to Hidimbi 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 jutting out of the ground, which was worshiped as an image of the deity. The structure was built in the year 1553.
Hadimba, a ‘Rakshashi’ in the Mahabharat has been deified and is worshipped in this area. According to Mahabharat ‘Hadimb Rakshash’ ruled some of the sub-mountainous tracts of the Himalayas. His sister was Hadimba or Hidimba.
The Hidimbi 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.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 Hidimbi 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.
About 70 metres away from the temple, there is a shrine dedicated to Goddess Hidimba’s son, Ghatotkacha who was born after she married Bhima.
As per another legend, the architect of the temple had to lose his hand for this masterpiece. King was afraid of duplication of the master craft and he ordered architect’s hand to be cut. This anecdote might have some portion of reality and truth, with only the temple being a mute witness. It is also said that this could not stop the master architect, who trained his left hand and at the request of the people, executed an even finer temple at Trilokinath in Chamba.
The temple is also known for a fair held every year in Hindi month of Sravan in the memory of Raja Bahadur Singh, who built the temple. The fair is popularly known as Bahadur Singh Re Jatar among locals. There is another fair too which is held on 14th May each year in the celebration of birthday of Hadimba Devi. Women around and from Dhungri forest come and celebrates this fair with music and dance.