Hadimba (Hidimba) is a small figure in the Mahabharat, the great INdian epic. She is a rakshas (inhuman, probably a reference to her purported hill tribe origin). She marries one of the heroes of the epic and has a son who goes on to play a small but significant part in the great battle the Mahabharat is woven around. As for as the central story goes, we don’t hear about her again. Here, however, Hidimba occupies the centre-stage, she is transformed into a goddess who is said to have performed penance under a rock to attain divinity. Around this rock cam up this temple. The present stone, wood and plaster structure dates back to the 1500s, but worship here seems to be a much older tradition. No photography is allowed within the temple, but there are foot-impressions inside that are claimed to have been made in to solid rock by Hidimba in the course of her penance.
Areas like Manali, and others in the Himalayas and associated mountain ranges developed semi-independently of the main current of evolution the flowed into the Indian heartland via the Hindu-Kush and the Punjab. These were isolated valley chiefdoms, cut off from the rest of the world by snow for over half the year. It was fascinating to me to see how marginalized communities like these have adopted minor icons in Hindu mythology and given them sufficient importance to justify their claim to the mainstream. Links like Hidimba tied these tribes to the central core of Hindu and Indian culture while also maintaining their separate, unique identity; the rock worship, of course points to religious practices that predate even Htnduism, itself a millennia-old tradition.
Enough of my lecture now; this is the temple. 🙂