Despite NC opposition PDP Congress got Machail yatra bill passed

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Bilal Handoo

After three autonomous boards taking care of three Hindu pilgrimages, the Elders in J&K legislature Wednesday pushed yet another bill that will manage the yearly yatra to Machail.

Interestingly, Congress initiated the bill and managed its passage with the help of PDP despite the ruling National Conference opposing the idea. The bill would now descent to the lower house for debate and a possible passage.

J&K state legislative council – Photo: Bilal Bahadur

The bill will pave a way for another yatra board in the state for the less known Machail Yatra. The act for the constitution of this board has been called Shri Chandi Mata Machail Board act. While thirty percent members of the said board shall be from Sarv Shikti Sevak Santha Machail yatra management, rest seventy percent members of this board will be nominated by Governor/Government.

Congress lawmaker, Naresh Kumar Gupta while moved the bill in the house stated, “This year 3.5 lac yatris visited the holy site where they had to face shabby arrangements.”

Started not more than four decades ago, the Machail Yatra is an arduous trek to a mountain temple located at around 11000 ft above sea level in the remote Paddar valley in Kashmir. The 175 km long, 27-day yatra starts from Bhadrwah’s Chenote temple, takes a day to reach Kishtwar and then another day to Paddar.

The yatra attracts third largest number of pilgrims after Vaishno Devi and Amarnath. From Atholi, the pilgrims trek 32 kms on foot.

The 2012 Machail yatra officially commenced on August 18 but unofficial pilgrimage starts by early August and concludes on August 24 with more than 300 thousand pilgrims having darshan at the temple.

The development came when Congress-PDP conglomerate passed a bill for the constitution of a board for the better management of this annual yatra. The bill was primarily seeking the upgradation of facilities for holy pilgrimage which starts from Bhaderwah enroute Michail i.e., Bhaderwah, Pul Doda, Premnagar, Thatri, Kishtwar, Gulabgrah, Padder, etc.

The Machail Yatra was started by a Bhadrwah police man, Thakur Kulbir Singh aka Mata during his posting in Paddar. The myth behind the yatra is the appearance of Chandi Mata, actually endemic to Mindal Bhattas hamlet of Himachal, in the form of Pindi to bless Paddar. Over the years, a full-fledged devotional music has emerged in the name of Mata Chandi Machail Waali. The temple is located in high mountains having thick deodar forests and attractive meadows as the world famous sapphire mines area is located barely a three-hour trek away. The government has initiated laying a road between Gulabgarh and Machail but it is expected to take some more time for completion.

J&K has an autonomous board managing Vaishno Devi, Amarnath and Shiv Khori.

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A journalist with seven years of working experience in Kashmir.

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