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Hatkoti Temple – History – Hateshwari Mata Temple In Himachal Pradesh

Hatkoti is an ancient village on the banks of the Pabbar River in Himachal Pradesh and the most important temple here is dedicated to Hateshwari Mata. Situated in the midst of lush paddy fields, the Hatkoti temple complex is built around the Hateshwari Mata. The shrine is around 130 kms from Shimla and 14 kms from Rohru.

Hatkoti Temple History

Hatkoti village has a number of stone shikhara temples scattered over an area of 5 sq. kms. The architecture and carvings on these temples places them between the 6th to 9th centuries and many scholars attribute the temples to the revival of Hinduism by Adi Shankaracharya.

Hateshwari Temple is believed to have been built in the 9th-10th centuries on the remains of an ancient temple.

The temple has a pyramidal roof tipped with a marble amalaka and a golden kalasha. The original stone kalasha is now kept at the entrance on the premises. The Raja also built wood and stone walls around the original structure to protect it from the ravages of harsh climate of the region.

Hateshwari Mata Murti And Sanctum Sanctorum of Hatkoti Temple

The sanctum sanctorum of the temple has a murti of Hateshwari Mata in the form of Mahishasura Mardini. The 1.2 meter high murti is dated to the 7th century AD.

The deity has eight hands and the head of the demon Mahishasura lies at her left foot; while her right foot is said to extend underground. She is depicted with all her attributes, most notably her chakra (discus), which she holds in the rarely seen prayoga mudra (ready to be dispatched) mode. One of her left hands holds the demon Raktabija by a lock of his hair.

The undeciphered inscriptions on either side of the murti in sanctum are said to belong to the 7th or 8th centuries. On the arch of the torana (throne back) are the Navadurga, below which are Veenadhari Shiva and other gods led by Indra. On the two sides are the Hayagriva horse and the elephant, Airavata. A copper pitcher emblematic of Parashurama is kept beside the goddess in the sanctum and is taken out in a procession during fairs as a representative of the temple.

Ganga and Yamuna, too, are depicted on the left and right of the arched torana. Symbolically, the river goddesses are intended to purify the devotee of all earthly taints, and to concentrate the mind on the enshrined deity.

Also in the shrine, a stone sculpture of the goddess is show carrying a thunderbolt. The lips of the image are inlaid with copper and the eyes with silver.

The adjacent Shiva temple was built around the large Shivling enshrined in it. Its ceiling is exquisitely carved with figures of gods and goddesses, each figure carved out of a square block of wood and then fitted into a carved wooden frame.

The original architectural style of the temples can be inferred from two sources – the two shrine models identical in plan and elevation; on the elaborate torana of the Hateshwari temple, and the five small shrines near the Shiva temple, bereft of their sculptures and murtis of worship. The smaller shrines have dvara mandapas supported by stone pillars, with big images of Shiva carved on them. Locals believe them to have been built by Pandavas while in exile, and call them Pandava Ka Khilona or toy houses of the five Pandava brothers. Several sculpted murtis of gods and goddesses, such as Vishnu, Vishnu-Lakshmi on Garuda, Ganesha and Durga have been kept outside these shrines.

Between the Hateshwari Mata and Shiva temples is the bhandar, containing various objects used during festival. Also in the sprawling marble compound is a beautiful baithak (meeting place), where devotees gather.

Story Of Copper Vessel In Hatkoti Temple

A huge copper vessel is chained to a ring in the niche beside the entrance of the sanctum sanctorum of Hateshwari Mata. Locals relate a quaint talke of a priest startled awoke by a resounding rumble as he slept in the temple premises. Stepping out into the torrential rain he spotted two big copper vessels floating on the river. The priest rescued the vessels and offered them to the Goddess but the next time it rained one of the vessels floated away on the river. Since then the remaining vessel has been kept chained. Locals believe that they will be blessed with an abundant harvest if they spy the lost vessel while sowing their crops.