Nanda Raj Jaat pilgrimage from Aug 18 to trek on risky routes

The 280-km Nand Raj Yatra, including an arduous trek, is keenly looked forward to by not only the participants, but also a number of reputed photographers from all over the world keen to capture the uniqueness of the procession, including the four horned ‘khadu’ (ram) that leads it, and the picturesque locale through which it passes in their cameras.

Dehra Dun : It is a tragic irony that Uttarakhand will be hosting the Nanda Devi Raj Jaat Yatra for the first time since it attained statehood in Nov 2000, but neither are the conditions of the Yatra route nor the facilities and infrastructure being offered very conducive for the participants. The Yatra is scheduled to begin on Aug 18.

Though the Raj Jaat Yatra, which originates from Nauti village, about 25 kms from Rudraprayag in the Garhwal hills, is held every 12 years, but the present one is being undertaken after 14 years, as it could not be held in the years 2012 due to ‘malmaas’ (inauspicious month) and the natural disaster in 2013.

A call of faith
A call of faith

The 280-km Yatra, including an arduous trek, is keenly looked forward to by not only the participants, but also a number of reputed photographers from all over the world keen to capture the uniqueness of the procession, including the four horned ‘khadu’ (ram) that leads it, and the picturesque locale through which it passes in their cameras.

However, this year while the nodal officer, G S Martolia, an IPS officer of DIG rank has asked the participants to be extra cautious while negotiating through the about 80 kms of arduous trek, the Nanda Raj Jaat Yatra Samiti has claimed that the villagers will perhaps not be able to make arrangements for the large number of participants expected to participate in the Yatra this year.

Nand Pilgrimage

According to Martolia who undertook the trek to get first-hand knowledge of the route, the 10-km stretch between Patar Nachaunia and Bhagwa Basa is very dicey as the path is very slippery and not stable, though logs have been placed on the path to provide firm footing. The incessant rains in the region have been a reason for this.

Four horned ram
Four horned ram

He further said that thereafter the Yatra passes through a stretch that is at a height of over 16,000 ft, where it is not only the low oxygen in the atmosphere that is a cause of worry but the low level clouds and fog could limit visibility to a few feet and there are fears that a wrong foot could result in a calamity that could best be avoided.

However, Martolia pointed out that all efforts have been made for the safety of the participants and personnel of the State Disaster Response Force, SSB, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, Mountain Police and Nehru Institute of Mountaineering will be available along the entire Yatra route to ensure that nothing unwarranted happens.

As per folklore, the Yatra, which is often referred to as the ‘Kumbh of the north’ is celebrated as Nanda Devi, consort of Lord Shiva, leaves her mother’s house for Mount Kailash.

A journalist with over 40 years of experience, Jagdish Bhatt is Editor Hill Post (Uttarakhand). Jagdish has worked with India's leading English dailies, which include Times of India, Indian Express, Pioneer and several other reputed publications. A highly acclaimed journalist, Jagdish is a recipient of many awards, latest being the 2011 Development Journalism Award. He lives in Dehra Dun.

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