105-km east of Shimla
, in Jubbal Tehsil on the banks of the river Pabbar, lays the mysterious
valley of stone temples Hatkoti. Close by stands a small village by the
name of Parhaat. At Hatkoti, two other small mountain streams Bishkulti
and Raanvti join the Pabbar. The color of the Bishkulti or vish-khalti
water is somewhat grayish and the local belief says that the stream oozes
out poison. With the convergence of the three water streams, according to
the Hindu mythology makes Hatkoti a place fit to be a pilgrimage.
Himachal itself, though studded with temples, has a very special reverence for Hatkoti, the abode of Goddess Mahishasurmardini an incarnation of Durga.
The Temple Complex: The temple complex consists of
a main temple dedicated to Durga and a smaller temple dedicated to Shiva,
the two standing side-by-side. There are some conical stone structures
meant for storing grain, presumably built by the local people at a much
later date. At Dharamshala,
a kirtan ghar and a rest house make up the complex. On the basis of the
architectural design and style of sculpture, it is believed that the
Hatkoti temples belong to the Gupta period and must have been built
between the 6th and 9th century AD.
The Garbhagriha: The Garbhagriha or the sanctum sanctorum is naturally dark, but the idol, exquisitely cast in bronze, emits a soft, ethereal glow. It depicts the goddess Mahishasurmardini also called Mata Hateshwari, eight-armed and riding a lion as she drives her spear through the heart of the demon Mahishasura. On either side of the image, there is an inscription in a variation of the Brahmini script that no one has been able to decipher so far.
Shiva temple: The Shiva temple nearby is very similar in architecture and design with the rest of the temples present in Hatkoti. One of the remarkable features of this temple is the shivling situated within the temple, which is wider than the doorway.
Sunpuri Hills: 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. Surmounting this hillock is a small temple with another finely chiseled image of Mahishasurmardini, made of stone.
Panzo Pandoora Ghaurdoo: Small temples scattered near Sunpuri Hills are said to have been built by the Pandavas and are called by local people as 'Panzo Pandoora Ghaurdoo' or the toy houses of the five Pandavas.
Charoo: Charoo, which means a large bronze vessel, stands battered with age on one side of the mandap of the Mahishasurmardini temple securely chained to an image of Ganesha positioned inside the temple.
Khara Patther: Khara Patther is an upcoming skiing hotspot, which falls enroute to Hatkoti from Shimla. Besides, if one is in a pilgrimage mood can visit Giri Ganga, a few kilometers away from Khara Patther.
Angling & Trout-Fishing: From Khadralla, the way to this paradise for anglers, lies through Sungri. Beyond Hatkoti, 11 km away, is Rohru situated on the banks of River Pabbar - an excellent spot for angling, with fishing pools teeming with trout. The trout hatchery at Chirgaon, upstream, ensures a well-stocked river.
Shimla is the nearest
Rail: Nearest rail heads Shimla narrow gauge Kalka broad gauge.
Road: One can either take the Shimla -Theog-Kotkhai-Khara Patther-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
One can stay at the Forest Rest House nearby or in one of the few hotels, which have mushroomed lately. Those looking for luxuries can go to Rohru, 10-km away from Hadsar.
Twice a year, during the Chaitra Navratra in the month of April and the Ashvin Navratra in October, the temple complex reverberates with the sounds 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 sacrifice a goat or sheep, those who worship her in the form of Vaishnavi, offer flowers and halwa. Himachali folks make offerings of parched rice and homegrown walnuts, as these are considered highly acceptable to the Devi.