Hateshwari Temple, Hatkoti – The Temple Complex
The temple complex consists of main temple dedicated to Hateshwari, Shiva temple, Pandava Ka Khilona, official buildings, and other minor shrines & structures. The temple is completely enclosed by a 12-foot-high wall on all the three sides. The temple has two doorways. The doorway on the east serves as the main entrance to the temple and the doorway on the north serves as the entrance to the Dharamshala. The entrance gate is made up of walnut wood in a typical Pagoda style architecture, with a slate roof.
The temple follows classical shikara style of architecture. Both the main temple and Shiva temple faces towards east. The slate tiled pyramidal roof of the main temple was adorned with a marble amalaka and a golden kalasha. The original stone shikhara of the temple is now kept at the entrance to the premises. The original structure of the temple is enclosed with wood and stone walls to protect it from the damages of the harsh climate. There are two bronze statues of lions guarding the entrance of the main temple.
The door of the main temple are studded with coins. Many people who come here make a wish and if their wishes are fulfilled, they hammer coins on to the door of the main temple. The sanctum enshrines an image of Hateshwari / Mahishasura Mardini, an incarnation of goddess Durga. The idol is about 1.2 metres high and made of ashtadhatu (eight precious metals). The idol is said to be dated to the 7th century CE. She is depicted with eight arms holding various weapons. It is unique to note that she holds her chakra in prayoga mudra.
Also, one of her hand holds another demon Raktabija by a lock of his hair. Her left foot stands over the head of the demon Mahishasur while her right foot is said to extend underground. She is shown riding a lion with her spear piercing the heart of the demon Mahishasur. This idol emits a glow because of its metallic composition of eight metals. There are inscriptions on both sides of the idol, but the inscriptions could not be deciphered till date. It is said that the deity changes its expression, sometimes it has a smiling face and sometimes it is has an angry face.
There is a torana around the deity. Navadurga can be seen on the arch of the torana. Veendhari Shiva and devas led by Indra can be seen below the Navadurga. Hayagriva and Airavata can be seen on the two sides of the torana. Ganga and Yamuna are depicted on the left and right side of the arch. There is also a stone sculpture of goddess carrying a thunderbolt in one hand can be seen in the sanctum. The lips of the image are inlaid with copper and the eyes with silver.
A copper pitcher of Parasurama is kept beside the goddess in the sanctum. It is taken out in a procession during the fairs. There is a Shiva temple situated on the left side of the main shrine in the temple complex. This temple enshrines a huge Shiva Linga in its sanctum. The width of the Linga is larger than that of the entry door. The ceiling is carved with figures of Hindu deities, each figure carved out of a square block of wood and then fitted into a carved wooden frame.
There are five stone temples situated to the left side of the Shiva temple. These temples are locally called as Pandava Ka Khilona (toy houses of the five Pandava brothers). These five temples represent each of the Pandavas. These temples are arranged in the decreasing order of size. These shrines consists of sanctum and pillared mukha mandapa. A huge copper vessel called Charu is found chained to a ring in the niche in the antrala next to an idol of Lord Ganesha.
There were two such vessels on each side of the entrance, but one somehow rolled into the river one day. The second vessel was chained after this incident. There is a huge hall known as yagasala used to perform rituals. Havan Kund can be seen in the centre of the hall where the rituals are performed. The idols of Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva, and Ganesha can be seen near Havan Kund. There is a hall named Satsang Bhavan which can accommodate 350 devotees at a time.
There is a rest house (Dharamshala) for pilgrims and saints near Satsang Bhavan. There is a prayer hall named Girtan Ghar in the temple complex. There is a bhandargriha situated between the main shrine and the Shiva temple. It is used to store various objects used during festivals and fairs. It is said that there is a tunnel of about 6 feet high and 3.5 feet wide below the surface of the temple. Sculptures of Vishnu, Lakshmi Narayana, Ganesha, Durga, and other deities can be seen in the temple premises.