Magnificent Hatkoti Temple in Shimla
Mata Hateshwari is considered to be the most powerful Goddess amid the local folks. As one enters the premises of the temple, it wedged its visitor with its mystical loveliness. There are a numerous historic monuments, which enthrall the attention of its visitor and offer a complete feeling of peace and divinity that covers the mind and soul. Inside the shrine there are five stones knows as “Deols”, which are believed to be made by the Pandavs during Mahabharata period, the Deols are positioned in descending order, as the first one is the largest among the others. Temple of Mata Hateshwari is unexplainable. There is a large vessel tied by the chains at the entrance of Mata Hateshwari temple known as “Charu”.
The statue of Mata Hateshwari is made of eight valuable metals and the idol is about 1.20 meters in height. It is deemed by the devotees that the idol shows diverse expressions, sometimes it appears to be smiling and sometimes it seems that it is very angry. Also inside the premises of the shrine there is another ancient temple, which is devoted to Lord Shiva. The temple has a large “Shiva Linga” inside it accompanied with other stone-carvedstatuaries of deities, which are also prehistoric. There are two huge halls inside the premises for accomplishing the ritual and yagyas. The other hall is used to perform the ceremony like Marriages. There is also a SatsangBhawan, which comprises of huge area.
A 12-foot wall from three sides encloses the temple.The architectural style of the temple said to be erected during the era of the Gupta ruler from 6 to 9AD.
History of the shrine
The legend says that Maheshasur, who was son of Rambhasur, made tough devotions to Lord Shiva for many years. Lord Shiva was very happy with his prayers and in return rewarded him by making him unbeatable. But, Maheshasur took advantage of his reward and tried to capture all Gods and wanted to detain the whole cosmos. Then all Gods took shelter in the cave near Pabbar River in Hatkoti and plead Mata Hateshwari to save them from the Demon. On their plea Mata Hateshwari killed Maheshasur and gained the name “Maheshasurmardini”. It is also believe that the Pandavs also spent a long time in Hatkoti when they were sent to exile from “Hastinapur” during Mahabhart. There are also temples dedicated to Pandavs at this holy place.
Fairs at Hatkoti temple
Twice a year, during the ChaitraNavratra (April) and the AsvinNavratra (October), the temple complex echoes with the hums of bells and cymbals and khartals. On both occasions a fair is held, attracting pilgrims from far and near. Those who worship Durga in the form of Shakti sacrifices a goat or sheep, those who worship her in the form of Vaishnavi, offer flowers and halwa. Himachali kinfolks make offerings of parched rice and homegrown walnuts, as these are considered highly acceptable to the Devi. In the past, a buffalo (Mahish) was sacrificed;the government now has banned a practice.
When the noise and bustle of the fairs has died down, the Hatkoti temples relapse to a slumberous state, tended by a lone pujari and visited by the odd devotee. But weddings and other ceremonies are often held at the temple of Durga because it believes that the presence of the Devi on these occasions ensurespleasure and fulfillment of all the wishes.
The Hatkoti temples have agonized at the hands of time. Further down the streamPabar, there used to be many more temples of this nature, with decoratively imprinted stonewalls and doors made of wood. But most of these temples have been reduced to debris. At the heart of the Hatkoti valley stand the hills of Sunpuri, merging into each other, making it sacred for the localities to call it the Ardhnarishwar. Overcoming this hillock is a small temple with another finely carved image of Mahishasurmardini, made of stone. Small temples scattered nearby are said to erect by the Pandavas and the local people call them ‘Panzo Pandoora Ghaurdoo’ (The toy houses of the five Pandavas). A charoo (large bronze vessel) stands maltreated with age on one side of the mandap of the Mahishasur-mardini temple firmly chained to an image of Ganesha located inside the temple.
How To Reach
One can either take the Shimla-Theog-Kotkhai-KharaPatthar-Hatkoti-Rohru motor road or the Dehradun to Hatkoti route, which passes through Chakrata, Deoban, Tiuni and Arakot. Hatkoti is at a distance of 105 km from Shimla, the capital of Himachal Pradesh.