Tag Archives: homkund

Thousands accompany Nanda Devi on its mythical journey

Rajjaat concludes amidst enthusiasm braving tough weather

A chantoli near Roop Kund at almost 14500 ft
A chantoli near Roop Kund at almost 14500 ft

Thousands of people gave an emotional send-off to their mythical daughter Nanda Devi at Homkund at an altitude of almost 16 thousand feet right at the base of Nanda Ghunti peak (in Uttarakhand in Himalayan India), bringing to close a much awaited Nanda Devi Rajjaat Yatra which takes place in not less than 12 years. Called as Himalayan Kumbh and longest religious procession in Asia, this 290 km Yatra started from Nauti near Karnprayag in Uttarakhand on 18th August and ended at same place on morning of 7th September after customary rituals. Nanda was bid adieu at Homkund on 3rd September. Comparing to last two occasions in 1987 and 2000, number of pilgrims as well as the Chantolis (canopies) representing various goddesses in Kumaon and Garhwal region saw a manifold increase. Extending the tradition there were many more Chantolis and flags this time, including many first timers such as one from as far as Martoli region of Pithoragarh.

Nanda Devi Rajjaat Yatra 2014 at Bedini Bugyal
Nanda Devi Rajjaat Yatra 2014 at Bedini Bugyal

Whether or not to let the numbers increase in this highly sensitive zone of Himalayas is a matter to be debated and will be debated a lot in coming days owing to last year’s catastrophe in Kedarnath region and this year’s floods in Kashmir, but enthusiasm among people was something not to be missed. Yatra had many other hits and misses. New traditions were made and old ones were broken. Much was left to desire of many. Weather and rough terrain put up a stiff challenge to those who were less prepared. Indeed any trip with a strenuous trek at above 13K ft for five days on trot can’t be easy one for even regular trekkers like me. I could safely say that it was the most challenging trek I ever did in last more than 20 years.

Rough terrain and tough trek

Pilgrims queued up to go to Homkund to send off Nanda Devi towards Kailash
Pilgrims queued up to go to Homkund to send off Nanda Devi towards Kailash

Yatra had many milestones after starting from Nauti and Kansuwa. Important among them were Nandkesari where all mini Yatras coming from other parts of state converge into the main one. Next one was Waan, a village famous for its potatoes and a very important cultural centre, from where actually the Yatra moves into the high altitude zone. Then was Bedini Bugyal, said to be one of the most pristine bugyals of this part of Himalayas where people pay ritualistic homage to their ancestors at Bedini Kund. Then was the mysterious lake of Roopkund strewn around with human skeletons dating at least five centuries back. Jyura Gali (street of death) pass at the altitude of 15580 ft was the highest point of the whole trip. Across the pass, Shila Samundar was literally a sea of rocks, surrounded by snow clad peaks. That was the last camp before sending Nanda Devi to Homkund. Back down, Sutol was the again the road head and also a place known for its Pandav dance.

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Nanda Devi Rajjaat Yatra festivities begin

ChowsinghaWith rains relenting a bit on Saturday (16th August 2014), the festivities of Nanda Devi Rajjaat Yatra took off with a religious fervor when mythical four-horned sheep and the Raj Chantoli (a small palanquin with Nanda Devi’s small decorated idol) of Nanda Devi reached Kansuwa village near Nauti in Uttarakhand. Kansuwa is village of descendants of erstwhile royal family (raj kunwars) who have been traditionally organizing the Nanda Devi Rajjaat. Earlier both the sheep and the Chantoli were brought to the Adi Badri temple where they were received by the Kunwars of Kansuwa represented by Dr. Rakesh Kunwar who is also the president of Nanda Devi Rajjaat Yatra organizing committee. After traditional rituals and offerings, they were taken to Nauti.

NandaDevi1Traditionally the four horned sheep leads the Yatra followed by Raj Chantoli till Homkund, where it is released towards the Kailash Mountain mythically considered to be abode of Lord Shiva. Homkund is reached after passing through Bedini Bugyal, mysterious Roopkund and a very tough Jyura Gali pass (termed as street of death). Its also believed that this sheep is borned after special prayers by Kansuwa family. Its birth anywhere in the region is considered to be the permission to hold Yatra.

 

Four horned sheep and Raj Chantoli reach Kansuwa

The Raj Chantoli is built by Rudis of Chimta village near Kansuwa.  It is brought to Adi Badri by the Rajrudia and handed over to Kunwars of Kansuwa. They take it to their village Kansuwa. On the way at a place called Madho Ghat the sheep encounters Raj Chantoli and then they go together to Kansuwa.  A gold idol of Nanda Devi is kept in the palanquin (Raj Chantoli). After being decorated whole day on Sunday, the sheep and the Raj Chantoli will be reaching Nauti on Sunday night from where Yatra will finally leave for Homkund on Monday morning at 10.45 am with hundreds of followers in tow. As per information of now, Governor of Uttarakhand Dr. Aziz Kureshi will be inaugurating the Nanda Devi Rajjaat on Monday. He will be flying to Gauchar airstrip from Dehradun and after an overnight stay will travel to Nauti by road.

AdiBadriAdi Badri is one of the Panch (five) Badris of Uttarakhand. Located 17 kms from Karnprayag on the Karnprayag-Ranikhet highway, this is actually a cluster of 16 temples believed to be built during the Guptas period.

The 20 days, 290 kms Nanda Devi Rajjaat Yatra will culminate at Nauti on 7th Septembter. This year a day as been added in the Yatra for an extrra stay at Bedini Bugyal. (Nanda Devi Rajjaat Yatra from 18th).

 

Nanda Devi Rajjat yatra from 18th August

Procession of Gods
Procession of Gods

After two years of postponement the eagerly awaited Nanda Devi Rajjat Yatra will finally take place from 18th August to 6th September this year. The Nanda Raj Jat takes place once every twelve years – the journey starts from Nauti village (Karnaprayag district of Uttarakhand state in India) accompanying a mythical four-horned sheep and Doli and all sorts of gifts for Nanda Devi, who is treated as a daughter revisiting her mother. Last Yatra happened in 2000. Hence it was originally scheduled in 2012 but was postponed due to Malmaas (one inauspicious month) in that year. Hence rescheduled to happen in 2013, again last year it was postponed due to natural catastrophe (flash floods) in Kedarnath area, which created widespread destruction and huge loss of life and property across Himalayan region. Now, if everything goes as per plan, then Yatra will bring cheers to the many.

Raj Jaat Yatra at Roopkund
Raj Jaat Yatra at Roopkund

Nanda devi – the daughter of Kings of mountains, and the consort of Lord Shiva – is the supreme spiritual goddess of the locals of Garhwal and Kumaon region. She visits her maternal dwelling in these Himalayan heights in the Bhadrapad (months of August – September) – and this festive break is celebrated by the natives. The 280 kilometres and 19 days trek starts from Nauti Village and reaches Homkund via the amazingly picturesque Bedini Bugyal, Roopkund (4501 m) and the very difficult Jyura Gali pass (4620 m), on Nandashtmi. The trek passes through some of the most beautiful and some very tricky landscapes in the area. It is said that four-horned ram is born once every twelve years, and this very ram leads the procession. People do not go beyond Homkund, from where the ram takes the gifts and disappears in the glaciers. Once the ram is released, no one looks in its direction and the procession immediately heads back home.

Yatra on the route, File Photo
Yatra on the route, File Photo

One can attend the ceremony at Nauti village and then proceed to other places of interest before joining the procession again via Wan. It is at Wan that some 300 idols and decorated chhantolis (umbrellas) are assembled and the journey continuous all the way to Homkund.

Besides, Nanda Devi (7816 mts) is also the second heighest peak in India, located in Chamoli District of Uttarakhand. The route of Yatra passes through beautiful and mysterious lakes of Roopkund & Homkund and slopes of Bedini Bugyal. Besides Yatra, this route is also considered to a trekker’s paradise for its mesmerizing natural beauty, but it is also tough and challenging. Trekkers around the world dream of going to this area. The Nanda Raj Jat passes through places, that don’t find mention in most tourist maps and well-hidden inlands. This religious trek is meant strictly for the die-hard trekkers. Simultaneously this trek presents one the prospect of exploring a real Uttarakhand – its culture, traditions, people and authentic cuisine.

 

Nanda Devi Raj Jaat not to be postponed

Raj Jaat Yatra at Roopkund The famed Nanda Devi Jaat Yatra, held after every 12 years in Uttarakhand hill state of north India, will not be postponed in wake of the recent rain tragedy in Kedarnath, Chamoli, Rudraprayg areas, which left scores dead and entire hill state shaken. Although, district authorities have suggested keeping it at a local level this time saying they are not in a position to handle big crowds. The Nanda Raj Jaat, known as the Kumbh of Uttarakhand, is slated to be held from August 29 to September 16, 2013. The 280 km and 19-day trek starts from Nauti village and reaches Homkund through Bedini Bugyal, Roopkund and the very difficult Gali pass.

The yatra will be organised as per schedule though there was a proposal to postpone it. We spoke to the local people
who want it to go on. It is a religious issue and local sentiments are attached with it. Last Yatra happened in 2000. Hence this time it was originally scheduled in 2012 but was postponed to this year due to Malmaas (one inauspicious month) in the last year.

Procession of Gods
Procession of Gods

Normally thousands of pilgrims from across the world take part in the march. However, the district administration has warned that they are not in position to handle large gatherings hence the yatra should be held at a local level. It is difficult but the yatra will go on as of now. After the natural calamity and continuous rains and landslides the road network is badly damaged. Administration cannot handle big crowds and even mini vehicles won’t be allowed. It has been suggested to allow only locals and fit people. For the first time there will be a database of all the pilgrims. Uttarakhand state would be doing this exercise for the first time. Although it is going to be very challenging.

Due to bad weather administration could not do the minimum preparation needed. If Yatra is organised on big scale, it will be considered risky. A meeting will be held soon to discuss the arrangements, precautions and security measures of the yatra. Since this is a religious issue, government cannot interfere in this. It is appealing people to organise it at very small scale. There will be additional precautionary measures but it will be decided after the meeting.

Yatra on the route
Yatra on the route

Organisers, Nanda Devi Raj Jaat committee, have requested the state government to involve ITBP for handling the security aspect. Extra precautions need to be taken after the Kedarnath tragedy. Hence state government was urged to involve ITBP jawans to assure safety of this yatra. Nanda Devi is the supreme goddess of locals of Garhwal and Kumaon region. She visits her maternal dwelling in these Himalayan heights in hindu calendar month of Bhadrapad (August and September) and the festival is celebrated by the natives in every 12 years.

Besides Nanda Devi (7816 mts) is also the second heighest peak in India, located in Chamoli District of Uttarakhand. The route of Yatra passes through beautiful and mysterious lakes of Roopkund & Homkund and slopes of Bedini Bugyal. Besides Yatra, this route is also considered to a trekker’s paradise for its mesmerizing natural beauty, but it is also tough and challenging. Trekkers around the world dream of going to this area.