Once upon a time, there was a ruler called Banasura in the Kinnaur district of Himachal Pradesh. Upon the death of this ruler, his eldest daughter, Chandika, came to the throne.
She divided the whole kingdom among her eighteen brothers, keeping the largest portion for herself. She made village Koti her capital and became the Virgin Queen of the fertile area of Kinnaur.
It so happened that the husband of one of her sisters was a demon named Honnu. Chandika was so upset by the suffering that Honnu caused her sister that she determined to put an end to it herself. She visited her sister and stayed until she was able to win the demon’s trust. When the time came for her to leave, she asked that Honnu accompany her to Koti. Not realizing what she was up to, Honnu readily agreed.
As they neared Chini village on their way to Koti, they reached a flour mill whose grindstone was powered by a stream of water. Chandika asked Honnu to grind what corn they had with them into flour for the two of them to eat, while she left to find more grain. She told Honnu: “Make sure you do not let the grindstone be idle while I am gone. If I am late and you run out of grain to grind, use yak hair in its place until I get back with more grain.”
While Honnu was engaged in his task, Chandika attacked him from behind and with a dagger cut off his head. But Honnu was no ordinary demon, and his head would instantly rejoin his body.
No matter how often Chandika struck and each time Honnu’s head was severed it returned and joined his neck. Chandika’s body was splattered with blood and she was beginning to get exhausted from her repeatedly unsuccessful efforts.
Even the many gods who came at her prayers were unable to aid her.
At last she called out for help to her youngest brother, Maheshu, the great Shiva of Himachal Pradesh, who flew through the air to come to the aid of his sister.
“Do you see the black bee which is constantly hovering around Honnu’s head? Kill the bee first,” he told her and she did.
“Now cut off Honnu’s head.” At the stroke of Chandika’s dagger the head flew off and Honnu fell, the decapitated trunk huddled over the grindstone.
The dagger with which Chandika killed Honnu is still in the temple of Ropa Devi in Kinnaur, along with the idol of the widowed sister in a palanquin.
The place where Honnu was killed is still visited once a year by the Goddess Chandika, and a goat is sacrificed before the flour mill in the name of Honnu.