Hatkoti, is a hidden gem in the Jubbal Tehsil of Himachal Pradesh.
Located 105 kilometers east of Shimla, this valley of stone temples is a must-visit for any traveler looking for a unique pilgrimage experience.
As you approach Hatkoti, you’ll cross the river Pabar where two other small mountain streams, Bishkulti and Raanvti, converge. Don’t be alarmed by the grayish color of the Bishkulti water – locals believe it oozes out poison, but we’re sure you’ll be just fine. In fact, according to Hindu mythology, the convergence of these three water streams makes Hatkoti a perfect place for pilgrimage.
The main temple complex is dedicated to the fierce Goddess Mahishasurmardinian incarnation of Durga and includes a smaller temple dedicated to Shiva. The architecture and style of sculpture suggest that these temples belong to the Gupta period and were built between the sixth and ninth century AD. Inside the Garbhagriha (sanctum sanctorum), the idol of Mahishasurmardini, made of bronze, emits a soft, ethereal glow that will leave you mesmerized.
But that’s not all – the nearby Shiva temple is also a must-see, with a curious feature: the shivling inside the temple is wider than the doorway. It’s a mystery that we have yet to unravel!
While the temples may have suffered at the hands of time, the surrounding area is still breathtakingly beautiful. The hills of Sunpuri stand majestically in the center of the valley, making it sacred for locals to call it Ardhnarishwar. And nearby, small temples scattered around are said to have been built by the Pandavas.
But the fun doesn’t stop there. If you’re feeling adventurous, make a pit stop at Khara Patther, an upcoming skiing hotspot, on your way to Hatkoti from Shimla. And if you’re in a pilgrimage mood, visit Giri Ganga, just a few kilometers away from Khara Patther.
Twice a year, during the Chaitra Navratra in April and the Asvin Navratra in October, the temple complex comes alive with the sounds of bells and cymbals. Pilgrims from far and near come to pay their respects and make offerings. While in the past, a buffalo was sacrificed, nowadays it’s more common to see offerings of flowers, halwa, parched rice, and homegrown walnuts.
So, what are you waiting for? Take the Shimla-Theog-Kotkhai-Khara Patthar-Hatkoti-Rohru motor road or the Dehradun to Hatkoti route, and embark on a journey that will take you back in time to a mystical world of stone temples and ancient myths.