Jammu: The annual Machail yatra in Kishtwar district is going on smoothly with over 62,500 pilgrims paying obeisance at the temple dedicated to goddess Durga since the commencement of the 43-day pilgrimage last month, an official said on Sunday.
District Development Commissioner, Kishtwar, Angrez Singh Rana said an average 3,300 pilgrims have visited the hill shrine daily since July 25 to seek the blessings of ‘mata Chandi’ after walking an arduous 30-km track from the Gulabgarh base camp.
“The yatra is going on smoothly and so far over 62,500 pilgrims have visited the shrine. These include over 13,000 who availed the chopper service, Rana said.
Last year, about three lakh pilgrims visited the shrine during the pilgrimage days.
In the absence of proper infrastructure, local villagers provide accommodation to pilgrims in their houses, while the ‘Sarv Shakti Sewak Sanstha’, which manages the yatra, has set up free community kitchens along the route for the devotees.
“The district administration has made foolproof security arrangements and is coordinating with the management of the shrine to ensure that pilgrims do not face any problem, Rana said.
Located in the scenic Padder valley which is famous for its Sapphire, the remote shrine attracts thousands of devotees from across the country despite lack of infrastructure and non-availability of electricity.
“The Machail along with nearly a dozen adjoining villages will get electricity by next week. The power development department has set up the necessary infrastructure including transformers, poles and wires and started trials,” the officer said.
This year we have given a special thrust on cleanliness and assigned the task to private contractors to keep the track and the shrine area clean, Rana he said.
He said necessary arrangements for the safety and security of the pilgrims are strictly adhered to and no yatri is allowed to travel at late hours.
Pawan Kumar of Jammu, who visited the shrine along with his wife and two children early this week, lauded the shrine management and the district administration for the arrangements.
He, however, complained of overcharging by the house owners for accommodation. While Rs 500 is being charged for a good room at Gulabgarh base camp, Rs 1000 is being charged near the shrine, he said.
He also complained of fleecing by the shopkeepers and said the administration needs to take note and come out with a rate list.