The Hindu tradition has peopled the Himalayas with a
pantheon of Gods, Goddesses and Saints, just as the Greeks peopled mount
Olympus with their deities. The child Saint Baba Balaknath of the cave
temple at Deoth Sidh, Chakmoh in Hamirpur
district has pilgrims visiting it year after year. The scenic surroundings
of this temple also attract tourists.
On a spur of the Dhaulagiri hills of Hamirpur is the Deoth Sidh (the light of truth) temple. It is 54-km from Bilaspur and about 56-km from Hamirpur town. Talai, a village 10-km from the temple is the place associated with the story of Baba Balaknath.
Sidha's is a cult of great antiquity and represents deified ascetics from ancient times. According to legend Baba Balaknath was a Sidh who was born in the house of Gaur Brahmans at Girnar Parbat, in Kathiawar.
In his wanderings he came to Talai, where he worked as a cowboy for an old lady of the village. During his service he showed his miraculous powers to the villagers who had begun to reverse him as a child saint. A Sadhu group passing through the village confronted the child hermit. On facing defeat and realising the boy's powers, the head Sadhu forcibly tried to convert him and make him join his band. The child refused to abandon his faith.
After facing torture and humiliation, Baba Balaaknath, the child hermit, decided to retire to the forest. Days after his leaving the village people noticed a small light emanating from a hilltop cave in the jungle. On reaching the spot, they saw the baba in deep meditation. He was never seen again, but is still supposed to be alive within the mountain. A sacred fire is kept burning inside the cave even today.
Sundays, especially the first of every month, are considered sacred and a big fire-baked flour rot is cooked and distributed to the visiting pilgrims. Like the symbolic Buddha's feet, human feet carved on a flat stone represent the Baba's presence. Devotees in the region have such stones placed in their courtyards and worshipping places to ward off evil spirits. Pilgrims donate a pair of wooden slippers, or a silver canopy as offerings to the shrine.
Being one of the richest shrines in Himachal, this temple is managed with the help of H. P. government. Pilgrim accommodation is available at the complex. Deoth Sidh is easily accessible by road either from Bilaspur or Hamirpur.