Satya Pal Malik urged to reopen traditional route to Vaishno Devi shrine
National Conference provincial president Devender Singh Rana Tuesday met Jammu and Kashmir Governor Satya Pal Malik here and sought revival of the traditional route to the famous Mata Vaishno Devi shrine in Reasi district.
Nagrota MLA Rana called on Malik at Raj Bhavan and presented him a copy of the "project proposal - Conservation of Heritage Components on Traditional Vaishno Devi Route", an official spokesman said.
He said the NC leader requested the governor, who is also the chairman of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB), to take steps for revival of the traditional route to the shrine which starts from Jagti in Nagrota and ends at Nomainand.
Urging the Governor to develop the old track as an alternate route for the pilgrims to the shrine, the spokesman said Rana drew the Governor's attention to the need for conservation of the heritage assets, particularly the step wells, ponds, 'sarais', temples and springs on the old route.
The spokesman said the governor assured him of due examination of the envisaged project and urged the MLA to continue with his endeavours for the welfare of the people of the state.
The NC leader later said, "The revival project could be taken up under the aegis of SMVDSB, which will not only give further impetus to the world- famous pilgrimage but open up the heritage places for the spiritual bliss of the pilgrims."
Rana said he apprised the governor of the salient features of the project report, prepared by the Indian National Trust for Arts and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) for development of the ancient route to the shrine.
"The route, passing through the serene environs and spiritual ambience, offers spiritual solace and 'darshan' of several revered temple which used to be a pre-requisite before embarking on the yatra to holy Bhawan on Trikuta Hills over seven decades ago," Rana said.
He said it would be appropriate for the shrine board to explore this route optimally and undertake its all-round development.
The INTACH has prepared an exhaustive report after detailed mapping of all the important heritage assets like step-wells, ponds, 'sarais', wells, temples and springs along the track, which were once used and maintained by the pilgrims, he said.
He said the route starts from village Jagti (Nagrota) along the Jammu-Srinagar national highway and passes through various old temples like Jagdamba Mata Kheer Bhawani Temple at Jagti, Durga Mata Temple at Pangali and Shiv Temple at Thandapani, Drabi.
"By reviving this route, the devotees could return home after paying obeisance at the 'durbar' of the Mata with enlightenment that they have been searching all their life," he said.
Rana highlighted the religious, spiritual and secular characteristics of the ancient route during yesteryears, saying while it used to take off amid serene and spiritual ambience of the highly revered Kol Kandoli Mata temple, the pilgrimage used to reach Nomain, where the white turban-bedecked Gujjars used to carry 'jyot' (holy light) on their heads in true spirit of Jammu's secular ethos.
"Keeping in view the holistic development carried out by the board in ensuring world-class facilities to the visiting pilgrims in terms of infrastructural development and considering the financial constraints of the state government, we expect the SMVDSB to take up this ambitious project," Rana said.
He said the route will create pilgrim interest in the area and turn out as an economic boost for the people, who too are stakeholders in the pilgrim tourism.
He said the promotion of these areas as heritage pilgrimage sites will go a long way in promoting tourism in the Jammu region as well.
This monumental heritage route has suffered neglect for decades even though the fame of revered shrine on Trikuta Hills had transcended continents, Rana added.
(With inputs from agencies.)