Hadimba Devi Temple

This ancient temple stands by a dense cedar forest, which is a surprise in the otherwise touristy Manali. The forest cover around Hadimba Devi Temple is impressively thick, sunlight failing to touch the ground at many places. No wonder that the presiding deity of the temple is also known as the Forest Goddess or the Goddess of Nature. On a typical summer day, you will find snaking queues of devotees in and around the temple complex. While devotees from all over the country are a regular here, locals pray to the Goddess mostly in case of a natural calamity.

The temple was built by Maharaja Bahadur Singh in 1553, and has stood quite some tests of time. An intricate four-storey structure, it looks like a deserted cabin in the woods if there is nobody around. Look closer and you will spot its exteriors adorned with sacrificial remains of animals, includings goats, buffaloes and antelopes. Animal sacrifice is still a norm at the temple, especially when a new ruler is coronated. While it does sound rudimentary, you will know that practices like this are a part of this region’s culture, which is slowly embracing change.

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