Hidimba Devi Temple (built 1553 onward)
Hidimba Devi temple stands in the midst of a sacred cedar forest near the town of Dunghri at the verdant foot of the Himalaya mountains. The sanctuary is built over an enormous rock that juts out of the ground, worshipped as a manefestation of Durga, the "Hill Mother" or goddess of the earth. The temple was constructed in 1553 by Maharaja Bahadur Singh, who made a promise to the Hidimba deity of the Mahabharata epic.
The temple is rather unusual and is architecturally similar only to the temple of Tripura Sundari in Naggar (also in the Kulu valley). The Hidimba Devi temple is 24 meters tall and consists of three square roofs clad in timber tiles, surmounted by a cone-shaped fourth roof that is covered in brass. The interior of the temple is occupied by the large rock and contains no usuable space except for the ground floor. Curiously, a rope dangles from the ridge that is said to have been used to hang victims by the hand, who were then swung—bleeding and bruised—over the large rock in the presence of the goddess.
The base of the temple is made of whitewashed mud-covered stonework. The main doorway includes an elaborately carved wooden entrance that is believed to be over 400 years old. These and other carvings center on the goddess Durgha who is a mainstay of pan-Indian stories. However, the goddess herself is represented only once in a three inch tall brass image.
The approximate location of the temple is 32.238904' N, 77.187375' E (WGS 84 map datum).
All images copyright 2001 Kaye Yeo Ahn
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Associated University Presses, 1997. London
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Harper & Row, Publishers, 1977. New York
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Phaidon Press, Limited, 1990. Singapore