Manali as everyone in India knows is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India known for its picturesque landscape, snow-capped mountains, river, waterfalls and adventure activities. Manali is also known for some ancient temples, each having its own unique history and significance. In this article, we will take a closer look at some famous temples in Manali and in its vicinity which tourists may be aware but perhaps not all of them.
Hidimba Devi Temple History
The Hidimba Devi Temple, also known as Dhungri Temple, is one of the most famous temples in Manali. The temple was built by the king of Kullu Maharaja Bahadur Singh in 1553. Hidimba temple is dedicated to Hidimba Devi, who was the wife of Bhima, one of the five Pandava brothers in the Indian epic, Mahabharata. The temple is located in a thick forest of cedar trees (देवदार का पेड़). The temple is known for its unique wood architecture, which features a pagoda-style roof that gives it a very magnificent look..
Legend of Hidimba Devi
According to legend, Hidimba was the sister of a demon Hidimb. She was sent by her brother to lure Bhima so that he could kill him. Instead she in love with Bhima and helped him in his battle against Hidimb. Bhima killed Hidimb and after the battle, Bhima and Hidimba Devi got married. They had a son, Ghatotkacha who was a warrior of great strength and size. Hadimba temple is believed to be built on the spot where Hidimba Devi used to meditate.
Dungri Mela : The Annual Festival
Every year, in the month of May, a festival called the Dungri Mela (Fair) is held to honor the goddess Hadimba Devi. This festival goes on for three days and features cultural programs, religious rituals, local market that sells handcrafts and local food.
Manu Temple Old Manali
The Manu Temple is located in old Manali at a distance of approximately 2 km from Hadimba Devi temple. You can walk on foot from Hadimba to Manu Temple just like I often do whenever I am in Manali. The Manu temple is dedicated to Rishi (Sage) Manu who, according to Hindu Mythology is believed to be the creator of the human race. The temple is built in the traditional pagoda-style architecture and is surrounded by beautiful forests. The temple’s present structure came up in 1992 when there was a major renovation was undertaken. Prior to that it was just a small temple.
Manu Temple : Annual Fair
A festival is celebrated in the month of February or March in Manu Temple and also in the month of August in honour of Manu Rishi.
Legend of Manu Rishi
Manu Rishi was a king before the world was destroyed by a huge flood just like Noah in the bible. He was warned by Lord Vishnu who appeared in the form of a fish to save the mankind from this flood that will submerge the entire world. The king immediately built a huge boat. Into the boat entered the king and his family, animals to repopulate the earth and 9 different kinds of seeds. When the deluge came, Lord Vishnu appeared as a big fish with horns. So the king tied his ship to the horn of the fish which steered the ship to safety during the flood. After the flood was over they landed on top of a mountain. After few years when everything was settles, Manu the King retired to the mountains as a Rishi (sage). It is believed that all humankind are the descendants of Manu Rishi.
The Vashisht Temple is located in the village of Vashisht, located about 3 km from the Manali town. Vashisht is famous for hot sulphur water springs and a beautiful temple called the Vashisht Temple, dedicated to Rishi (sage) Vashisht. One can have a hot water bath here and there are no charges for the same. There are two separate baths, each for males and females. The hot sulphur water is said to have great healing powers for many diseases like diseases of the bones, skin etc.
Vashisht Temple History
Locals believe that sage Vashisht meditated at the very spot where the temple is located.
The Annual Festival
The Vashisht Temple celebrates its annual festival in the month of May. The festival features cultural programs, religious rituals, and local food.
Jagatsukh is located about 12 km from Manali towards Kullu on the left bank of river Beas. This town village which is fast turning into a town was once the capital of Kullu and the kings ruled from here. There are two popular old temples in Jagatsukh, the most popular being the Shiva Temple. There is another temple of Ma Gayatri Devi which is located near to the Shiva temple. The Shiva temple also called the Jagatsukh temple is built in the Shikhara style.
Legend of Jagatsukh Temple
According to legend, the temple was built by the Pandavas during their exile. The temple also features a statue of Lord Shiva, which is believed to be more than 1500 years old.
Gayatri Temple Manali
The Gayatri Temple is located next to the Shiva temple in Jagatsukh. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Gayatri, the goddess of knowledge and wisdom. It is said that the temple was built by Raja Jagat Singh, king of Kullu in the 17th century.
Jagatsukh Manali Festival
The Jagatsukh Temple celebrates its annual festival called the Chacholi Jatra in the month of April. In this festival the local deities of nearby villages are brought in a procession to the main square of Ma Gayatri Devi temple. People from nearby villages and tourists gather to see this ancient rituals of this village. This is followed by a beautiful folk dance performance by the local artists.
Gauri Shankar Temple Naggar Manali
The Gauri Shankar Temple is located in Naggar located about 22 km from Manali on the left bank of river Beas. Nagar is an ancient town in the Kullu valley. The Gauri Shankar temple is very close to the Naggar Castle, which is the most popular tourist destination in Naggar. Gauri Shankar temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is known for shikhara style of architecture with stunning wood carvings. There is Shiva lingam inside the temple and a Nandi outside standing guard. It is said that the the temple was built by Raja Jagat Singh, the king of Kullu in the 17th century. This temple is under the care of ASI (Archaeological Survey of India) and is a protected monuments.
Manali, Himachal Pradesh is not only a famous tourist destination known for its natural beauty but also for its rich cultural heritage. The temples in and around Manali are not only important from the religious angle but also offers a glimpse into the culture, customs, architecture and history of the region. Each of these temples has a own unique history and charm of its own, thus making them a must-visit for anyone coming to Manali.
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PEOPLE ALSO ASK / FAQ
Are the temples in Manali open all through the year?
Yes, these temples in Manali are open throughout the year. However, during heavy snowfall temples might be closed as a safety measure.
Are there any dress code to be followed while visiting temples?
Yes, visitors are expected to dress modestly while visiting the temples. Skirts and half pants should be avoided and head covered. Men should also cover their heads with a scarf or a hankie whenever visiting a temple or a place of worship.
Can non-Hindus visit these temples?
Yes, these temples are open to people of all faiths.
Are there any entry fees to visit temples?
No, there are no entry fee of any kind to visit any of the temples. However, courtesy demands that some offerings should be made to the deity however insignificant the amount be.
Is photography allowed inside temples?
No, photography is not allowed inside the temples. However, visitors can take photos of the temple exteriors.