Multistated Machail Yatra


Jammu and Kashmir as a whole is a land of temples, sacred shrines and of course a treasure trove of pilgrimages of varied hues which occupy almost every nook and corner of the State.
There is no denying the fact that ‘Chandi Mata’ who is popularly known as Machail Wali Mata occupies a prominent place among the devotees.
The Chandi Mata is mostly confined to Himalayan region. In Jammu, itself she has manifested at Mahalaxmi Mandir at Pacca Danga and at Bhadarwah where from her Holy Mace (Charri) starts in the month of August everyyear.
It is situated around 306kms away from Jammu, (Jammu-Batote) (120kms) Batote-Kishtwar (121 kms) Kishtwar- Atholi- Gulabgarh-65kms) by road and thence onfoot to Machail Mata which is barely 30kms. Though the terrain is too tough to trek but with the grace ofAlmighty Mata Chandi, one feels joyous in association with enchanting pilgrims echoing Jai Mata Jai Chandi Mata. The entire trek remains dotted with yatries of all hues in colorful attire.The main stopovers enroute are : Gulabgarh, Layondee, S Kunderpul, Chishoti, Hamori and Machail. The entire area is surrounded by lush green, meadows and flanked by deodar, kail, fir, spruce, oaks, shrubs and herbs.
According to the ancient sources, Maa appeared in the form of Pindi, the same as it is in Vaishno Devi. She came here from the Mindal Bhattas, a small village in Himachal Pradesh to bless the people of Paddar. The yatra was initially started by Thakur Kulbir Singh of Bhaderwah who was serving in J&K Police department and was posted in Machail.
The mention of Machail yatra would be incomplete without the mention of “Trishul Bhaint” yatra.
The “Trishul Bhaint” yatra leaves from Doda city to Chinote Bhaderwah. It is preceded by a Jagran at Radheysham Temple at Doda city. Then the yatra leaves for Bhaderwah. After reaching Chinote, the yatra is received and welcomed by the local people at Chinote.
The unique holy mace of the Goddess leads the pilgrimsand provides them with strength and inspiration.Amidst natural ambience, the people trek the mountainousroute chanting “Jai Maa Chandi”, “jai maa chandi”.
The holymance is welcomed enroute by thousands ofdevotees at various villages. These inaccessible hamletsinclude Matti, Seondi, Hamiddran, Massu, Mao, Garh, Naral, Sugliangadi, Bathree, Mulgo, Shagaani, Kokandran, Rotae, Palalee, Betha and a big village Ligree having hamlets viz, Doordo, Stangarhi, Thatak, Shahalee, totee, Pondale, Tunkhel, etc. The village Ligree is having a population around 1000 or so. At Machail, a small village, rather hamlet is located at the sacred shrine of Mata Chandi and the devotees throng in queues for hours together to have a holy darshan of Mataji, to pay obeisanceand obtain blessings.
During the trek, one comes face to face with nature inits true colours. One experience the silence of lush green meadows,the music of gurgling streams and that of treeswhen a whiff of air makes them sway hereand there. One only needs a sensibilityto experience this.
The ambience around makesone spiritually surcharged. Oneforgets the daily routine life, and remains soaked in spirituality. The journey allows us to differentiatebetween bad andgood.
The yatra also allows usto know how faith brings peopleof different denominationscloser to each other. Theartificial barriers created oncaste or region basis vanishhere. The yatris who throng herefrom different parts of the countryhave just one thing in mind -to getblessings of the Mata, and nothingelse. It is also an opportunity to know thelifestyle of people living in farflung areaswhere there are no basic amenities of life available.The Chandi Dham Machail has both Shiv and Shakti.On the one hand, the Goddess Chandi (Shakti) is blessingher devotees at Machail village while on the other handthere’s a Shiva Lingam on the opposite high mountainwhere the pilgrims visit to pay obeisance on the piousoccasion of the Shakti yatra. The mountain is called ShivPahad. The devotees describe it as a unique union of Shivaand Shakti at Machail.
The Chhari as such culminates at the shrine Shaktiwhere a Maha Yagya is held.
Machail yatra attracts a vast number of pilgrims. Nowwith the increasing focus on Bhadarwah as a pilgrim andtourist spot the civic amenities for this religious spot needto be undertaken on a war footing. The toilet blocks, roadupgradation, plantation, rain shelters, retaining walls atsteep points have to incorporated in the development planfor Machail Mata Shrine. Then increasing number of peoplewill visit it to get spiritual peace. It will give boost tolocal economy which is hard pressed at present, apartfrom boosting tourism the clarion call of the day.
(The author is former Deputy Conservator of Forest, J&K).

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