Chandi Dham Machail- Devotional Pilgrimage

September 15, 2010

Paddar in district Kishtwar has much of its own to offer. Full of natural and forest wealth, this tehsil has its own local dialect called Padri. It is situated on the bank of the mighty Chenab offering a unique and fascinating sight of the location. Paddar has the unique distinction of having the sacred shrine of Mata Chandi located at an altitude of 9500 ft. at Machail village surrounded by high mountains, thick deodar forest and attractive meadows adjacent to world famous sapphire mines area.

In Jammu, Machail yatra has its origin in Mahalakshmi temple at Pacca Danga. The yatra starts with a religious procession which passes through Jain Bazar, Link Road, Purani Mandi, Raghunath Bazar and Indira Chowk and then joins the yatra at Chinote. The holy journey of Machail shrine is about 320 kms. from Jammu City. The foot journey of 31 kms. from Atholi to Machail is a treasure of nature’s glimpses, attractions, enroute temples, caves, bubbling streams, springs, greenery and at some places sharp naked mountain peaks with night halts at Massu, Chishoti and Machail village. The worship of the godess continues at halting stations till late night.

The yatra usually commences from Aug 18 every year from its base camp Chinote. However, this year, the yatries have been permitted by the Yatra Management “Serve Shakti Sewak Sanstha to undertake pilgrimage from 10th of August itself to avoid rush and have glimpses of the Goddess. It is deemed necessary to mention here that the scene of the holymace (Charrimubarkh) departure from its base camp is worth seeing. Thousands of devotees who throng Chinote on the occasion, chant and dance to the tunes of devotional songs and tears roll down from the eyes of the spectators and the participants out of emotions. It looks like a bride is leaving for her in laws house. The bazaars and roads are decorated by erecting colourful gates and fluttering buntings to receive the yatra.The people here welcome the yatris by offering fresh fruit, sweet water and the other eatables like halwa-puri, chai and channa etc. as a token of love and respect to the divine mother. It is an admitted fact that who so ever joins this pilgrimage once wishes to visit the shrine again and again to satiate his spiritual thirst.
The most important and impressive aspect of the Machail yatra is the unique holy mace of the Goddess which remains ahead of the pilgrims to provide strength and inspiration to the pilgrims enroute.

According to a legend, the Goddess Chandi appeared at Machail long-long ago in the shape of Shila (Pindi). The mother came here from her ancient place Mindhal Battas (HP) to bless the simple, ignorant and helpless people of Paddar area. Besides spiritual, its social aspect is more impressive as it is believed that the Goddess asks her devotees to shun social evils like smoking, drinking and abusing each other for over all welfare of society and the mankind as a whole. By the grace of the mother majority of the pilgrims succeed in this objective. Domestic problems of the devotees are also solved by the Chandi Mata by dint of “Dhooptalna programme” called ‘man ki bat boojhna’.

The main reception station of famous Machail yatra include Bhala, Puldoda, Premnagar, Thathari, Kishtwar, Athdi Paddar, Massu, Chishoti and Machail where religious congregation and Bhandaras are organized to highlight the importance of religion and the yatra. The distance of about 200 Kms of the yatra from its base camp up to Gulabgarh Paddar is covered by bus in 3 days. Moreover, it is perhaps the only pilgrimage where a pilgrim has nothing to spend as boarding, lodging and langers are available free of cost enroute. Besides, local people also welcome pilgrims in their houses from the core of hearts and offer every possible facility within their reach to the pilgrims free of cost treating them as guests of the Goddess Chandi.

“Earlier, the yatra used to reach its destination Chandi Dham Machail, on the eve of a local festival called ‘Naghui’ when doors of the historical Chandi temple are thrown open for Darshan of the Goddess after remaining closed throughout the year as per ancient tradition and faith. On the occasion, the local populace including Budhists Clad in traditional dress greet the holymace. The devotional songs and holy couplets sung and chanted in local Padri language add to the charm of the holy dances throughout the day. Besides, havanas are also performed by the devotees for their peace and satisfaction.

The Chandi Dham Machail has the distinction of the simultaneous appearance of Shiv and Shakti. On the one hand, the Goddess Chandi (Shakti) is blessing her devotees at Machail village while on the other hand God Mahadev abruptly appears on the opposite high mountain in the shape of Lingam to provide darshans to the pilgrims on the pious occasion of the Shakti yatra. The mountain is called Shiv Pahad which often remains covered with black clouds. It is a unique union of Shiva and Shakti found at Machail only and nowhere else in the country.

It is a historical fact that the great Duggar warrior, General Zorawar Singh on his way to conquer Gilgit first bowed his head before the Goddess to get her blessings. It is said that the Goddess instructed her senior disciple to accompany Zorawar Singh to Gilgit and come back with flying colours. And this fact stands reflected in the Aarti of Machail Mata.
It is necessary to mention here that the founder, originator of this unique pilgrimage is a President Award winner, Police Officer, Thakur Kulbir Singh Jamwal of Bhadarwah who has become a living embodiment of the Goddess Chandi. The Yatra is manned and conducted by a state level registered social-cum-spiritual organization, ‘Sarve Shakti Sewak Sanstha’ first of its kind ever formed in the State.

The district and divisional administration also extend its helping hand to the Sanstha by way of deputing medical and wireless teams, yatra officer, security staff and deployment of pilgrims vehicles to make the Yatra a grand success.In view of increasing number of pilgrims year after year, much more arrangements of boarding, lodging and deployment of vehicles etc. need to be made on the pattern of Swami Amarnath Ji Yatra to facilitate the pilgrims enroute hilly area. The Machail Yatra is continuously becoming popular day by day.

Courtesy:- Daily Excelsior

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