Hidimba Devi Temple, also known as Dungri Temple, is the first Hindu temple that we have experienced. The three tiered pagoda dates back to 1533 and is dedicated to the goddess Hidimba, who was the wife of Bhimba in the ancient Indian epic, the Mahabharata. Incidentally, just to acknowledge just how ancient this history is, the Mahabharata's origins were probably from the 8th and 9th century BC, and the text reached its final form in the 4th century.
The temple was built over a large rock that protrudes from the earth and the interior of the temple is completely asymmetrical, with an undulating mud floor. Worshippers crouch under the massive rock, in a small nook, which houses a block of stone carved with the footprints of the goddess and a brass sculpture of the deity's visage, which is only three inches tall.
Photos by Ben Journee
It was an incredibly interesting place for us to visit. It couldn't have been more different to the grand cathedrals, chapels and indeed, buddhist temples, that we're familiar with. It was earthy, and organic in form. And the dampness multiplied this. It felt historical and was incredibly humble in both appearance and effect, even in spite of the ornate carvings and many goat and ibex skulls that adorn the exterior walls. It was a quiet place, with fewer tourists than devotees coming to pray. And situated in the middle of Dungiri forest, full of tall deodar cedar trees, which are native to the Himalayas, it was a fascinating and beautiful moment from our time in Manali.