At the feet of Goddess Haateshwari

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Shriniwas Joshi
It was already dark when we reached Rohru on our journey back from Dodra-Kwar. We decided to spend the night at Rohru and had, perforce, to stay in one of the dirtiest private hotels as the tourism corporation hotel and the Circuit/Rest House were fully occupied. Luckily, the beds were clean and we were tired, so we slept well.

The next morning, we decided to pay obeisance to Goddess Mahishasuramardini at Haatkoti. It is only 14 kilometre from Rohru. Haatkoti has now a big, good-looking serai which also has deluxe rooms. I felt sorry for not coming to this place last night and gamble on taking chances of staying here.

Haatkoti, a small village, is situated on the bank of the Pabbar river and has a number of stone sikhara temples. On the flat top of the adjacent hillock is the main temple of Lankra Veer with two more temples of other deities. Lankra Veer is Pataal Bhairav and protects the people from all negative powers that dwell in the surroundings of his temple. He is said to have been originated from the hair of Lord Shiva.

I am not showing you the picture of the temple of Goddess Mahishasuramardini or that of Lord Shiva, the main temples at Haatkoti because these are published in all books on the temples of Himachal Pradesh. Experts believe that the temples were constructed in the 9th-10th centuries to be rejuvenated by Maharaja Padam Chandra of Jubbal in 1885. The temple complex today is covered under The Himachal Pradesh Hindu Public Religious Institutions and Charitable Endowments Act, 1984 and is being properly maintained which is a pleasure to a visiting eye.

The devi has been shown here with eight hands standing in the Prayogmudra style. Prayogmudra means that she is ready to use her chakra or discus any moment. Her face is so serene and calm that a mere glance of it rouses total devotion towards her. I bow to the craftsman who carved the ashtdhatu (eight metals) idol about 7th century and put soul into her. Isn’t there a mismatch that the temple building is of the 9th century and the idol was crafted in the 7th century? Actually, the present temple has been constructed over the remains of an earlier temple situated here.

I was pleased to see five small shrines raised with stones standing in a row within the complex (See photo). The reason for my pleasure was that their architecture appeared more dated than the main two temples and second, my almost confirmed hindsight that the architecture of original temple of Ma Haateshwari might have been as that of these shrines. These shrines, which have no idol to worship, are five in number so I guessed that these had association with the Pandavas. And I was right because the locals believed that these were constructed by the Pandavas themselves during exile. They call these as Pandavas ka Khilona (toy-houses). A peep inside the toy houses shows sculpted images of gods and goddesses lying in no regularity.

I saw a big copper vessel, called Charu, chained to the temple of Ma Haateshwari (See photo). The legend is that long ago, a priest was sleeping in the temple when he heard a resounding rumble of vessels. He got up in torrential rain and proceeded towards the Pabbar to see two huge copper vessels floating in the river. He rescued both and brought those to the temple and during another heavy rain, one of the vessels floated and sailed in the river never to return. It brought the shadow of bad luck to the village of Haatkoti – there were untimely deaths, crop damages, droughts and other calamities.
Since then the second vessel has been chained so as not to lose it and people are in the lookout of the first and believe that if that is found, then there will be greater peace, prosperity and opulence in their village.

[source tribuneindia=http://www.tribuneindia.com/news/himachal/at-the-feet-of-goddess-haateshwari/129616.html]

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