Most of the temples in India are dedicated to Gods and Goddess’ of Hinduism but the Hidimba Devi Temple in Manali is different. Born into Rakshas(demon) family, Hidimba Devi rose to the ranks of a Goddess through Tapasya( a combination of prayer, meditation and penance).
She lived in the forests of Manali with her brother Hidimb and vowed to marry the one who would defeat her brother.
During the Mahabharat era, when the Pandavas were exiled for 14 years they came to live in Manali.
Hidimb had a great appetite for human flesh and sent his sister Hidimba to kill the Pandavas. When she reached there, she saw Bhima and instantly fell in love with him. She disguised herself as a beautiful lady and proposed to Bhima.
When Hidimba didn’t return for quite some time, Hidimb went in search for her. On reaching there, he saw Hidimba talking to Bhima and started boiling with anger.
“ I sent you to kill this man and you are talking to him. I will kill him myself.” Saying so, he attacked Bhima. A fierce fight ensued and Bhima killed Hidimb.
Hidimba once again proposed to marry Bhima but he wanted to kill her too. Then Bhima’s mother, Kunti interfered.
Kunti accepted Hidimba’s proposal but only on one condition. Once she had a child with Bhima, she would allow him to join the Pandavas.
Within a year she gave birth to a son named Ghatotkacha, who is greatly loved by Pandavas.
When its time for the Pandavas to leave the place, Hidimba stays back and does tapasya.
Ghatotkacha goes on to become a great warrior and an important figure in the Mahabharata war.
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.(Source: Wikipedia)
It has been a famous shooting spot for Bollywood movies like Roja and Yeh Jawaani hai Deewani.
Hidimba Devi is a highly revered deity for people of Manali and they consider her as their mother who always protects them.