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Destinations

Nanda Devi Raj Jaat Yatra – World’s Longest Pilgrimage Trek


Uttarakhand celebrates quite a few spiritual festivals and gala’s all yr spherical. One of many necessary pilgrimage and festivals is the Raj Jaat Yatra of Goddess Nanda Devi, organized each 12 years.

ॐ हिमाद्रिका हिमांगिनी नगाधिराज वासिनी

बिन्ध्य  नाम नंदजा नंदा कोट वासिनीम्।

Doli of Nanda Devi during Raj Jaat Yatra in Uttarakhand
Doli of Nanda Devi throughout Raj Jaat Yatra in Uttarakhand

The heritage of Uttarakhand, enriched with tradition and traditions, is so huge that it can’t be confined throughout the boundaries of any literature. Uttarakhand, so aptly referred to as Devbhumi or the land of Gods, is blessed with Panch Kedar, Panch Prayag, and Panch Badri of their completely pure environment.

Panch Kedar is 5 well-known Shiva temples together with Kedarnath, Tungnath, Rudranath, Madhyamaheshwar, and Kalpeshwar. Prayag is the confluence of two or extra rivers, the place ablutions earlier than worship happen. Panch Prayag contains Vishnuprayag, Nandaprayag, Karnaprayag, Rudraprayag and Devprayag. Panch Badri, 5 well-known temples devoted to Lord Vishnu, are Aadi Badri, Badrinath, Bhavishya Badri, Vruddh Badri, and Yogdhyaan Badri.

Nanda Devi

As per folks historical past, Nanda Devi was the household deity of the kings of Garhwal in addition to the Katyuri dynasty of Kumaon. Being the household deity, she was addressed as Raj Rajeshwari. Nanda Devi is often known as Devi Parvati’s sister. Nevertheless, in lots of locations, she is worshipped as an incarnation of Devi Parvati herself.

Nanda Devi Yatra at Chamoli
Nanda Devi Yatra at Chamoli, Picture – Shutterstock

Legend says that when Nanda Devi returned to her maternal dwelling. Attributable to some causes, she couldn’t return to her in-law’s home for 12 years. She was then despatched to her husband’s home with nice reverence. Raj Jaat Yatra signifies the journey of Mom Nanda, leaving her maternal dwelling and going to Kailash. Mom Nanda is taken into account Lord Shiva’s spouse. Lord Shiva’s abode is Kailash within the Himalayas. Raj Jaat Yatra begins on Bhadrapada Shukla Ekadashi yearly, which roughly falls in September.

Patti Chandpur and Shree Guru Kshetra

On this pilgrimage, Patti Chandpur and Shree Guru Kshetra of Chamoli district are thought of Devi Nanda’s maternal area and Badhan Kshetra (Nandak Kshetra) as her in-law’s dwelling. Nanda is Shiva’s consort and Himalaya’s daughter. As per the traditions, the goddess visits her maternal household after each twelve years. After weeks of celebrations, she goes again to Kailash. As per the native Garhwali customs, everybody visits her earlier than she leaves and he or she is introduced with items. Quite a few deities from neighboring areas pay her a go to and he or she visits quite a lot of temples too. The final temple of the final village that the goddess visits is devoted to her Dharam-Bhai (brother by the advantage of obligation) referred to as Laatu-Devta.

Raj Jaat Yatra Pilgrimage Route

Well-known as Himalayan Mahakumbh, Nanda Devi Raj Jaat Yatra is privileged to be the world’s longest on-foot spiritual trek. Organized yearly, it’s referred to as Chhoti Jaat, or a small pilgrimage. Each 12 years, the pilgrimage trek is organized on a grand scale and is known as Badi Jaat the place pilgrims from the nation and overseas participate in massive numbers. That is really a divine, fantastic, and thrilling trek in itself. This historic trek can also be thought of an emblem of the cultural confluence of the Garhwal and Kumaon areas, that are two components of Uttarakhand. Subsequent Badi Jaat will likely be organized within the yr 2025.

Pilgrimage Route of Raj Jaat Yatra
Pilgrimage Route of Raj Jaat Yatra, Picture – Writer

Nanda Devi’s historic tour originates from Nauti village in Karnprayag which is meant to be her maternal dwelling. The tour begins together with Nanda Devi’s holy palanquin from a divine historic temple at Kurud village at Nanda Nagar Ghat in Shri Badrinath Chamoli district. From Kurud temple, palanquins from Dasholi and Badhan provoke the Jaat. Pilgrims go for a 250 km journey from Kurud to Homkund on foot. On the way in which, they cross dense forests, gravel paths, inaccessible peaks, and snowclad mountains.

Raj Jaat Yatra at Bhagauti
Raj Jaat Yatra at Bhagauti

Encampment

The primary encampment of the pilgrimage is at Ida Bandhan, after crossing a distance of 10 km, later, two extra halts are at Nouti. After Nouti, the pilgrims cross Sem, Koti, Bhagoti, Kulsari, Chepadiyun, Nandakeshari, Faldiya village, Mundoli Van, Gairolipatal, Pataranachouniya, and Saila Samudra earlier than reaching the ultimate vacation spot Homkund. Through the journey, Lohaganj is one such halt the place pilgrims can nonetheless see iron arrows pierced into large rocks and bushes. Some arrows have been eliminated to be displayed on the museum. It’s assumed that sooner or later in historical past, there was a fierce battle that befell right here.

Learn extra: Splendor of Himalayas at Binsar, Kumaon, Uttarakhand

Roopkund

Yatra moving towards Roopkund
Yatra transferring in direction of Roopkund

On the Raj Jaat pilgrimage path, there’s a high-altitude glacial lake referred to as Roopkund lake, surrounded by snowclad mountain peaks. It’s also referred to as thriller lake or skeleton lake. Tons of of human skeletons are strewn across the lake and even on the backside of the lake. Scientists from India and all over the world have been finding out this lake. They’re making an attempt to resolve the thriller behind it for many years. With no restrictions in place, scientists from all all over the world had been touring to this lake located on the top of 16200 ft from sea stage and managing to remove human skeletons and different stays in massive portions, in flip stealing the mysteries of the previous.

Because the lake is located at a top a lot above human habitation, the realm nonetheless has many skeletons remaining. Many skeletons even had flesh hooked up to them. Together with skeletons, the entire space can also be strewn with jewellery, Rajasthan-style sneakers, tooth discolored with pan and supari, shells, bangles product of shells, and so forth. Tons of of those skeletons have been first found by a forest ranger in 1942.

Khadu Bhed or Sheep
Khadu Bhed or Sheep

Historic Pilgrimage

To guide this historic pilgrimage tour, the seek for chousingya khadu or four-horned sheep begins. It’s mentioned that earlier than every trek, any such uncommon sheep had been taking delivery someplace in villages on Chandpur and Dasholi belt. The four-horned sheep has particular significance on this pilgrimage, which takes delivery in native areas simply earlier than the Raj Jaat Yatra. Devotees hold massive baggage on each side of the sheep’s again, full of jewellery, beauty objects, and different items for Devi. After puja in Homkund, this stuff proceed to the Himalayas. Folks imagine that this four-horned sheep goes forward and disappears into Himalayan mountain ranges and enters Nanda Devi’s space, Kailash.

Devotees waiting for Nanda Devi
Devotees ready for Devi

Together with palanquins, umbrellas, and arrows of Ringal (dwarf bamboo) wooden, made with particular artistry, about 200 native god-goddesses participate on this Mahayatra. At 13200 ft above sea stage, the locations of this mysterious trek are from Roopkund to Homkund.

Learn extra: Jageshwar Dham – Abode of Shiva & Shaivism in Kumaon

After Homkund, the colorfully dressed sheep is left to proceed alone in direction of the Kailash glaciers. 280 km lengthy Raj Jaat trek climbs from 3200 to 17500 ft above sea stage, crossing 19 encampments. The entire pilgrimage is nineteen days lengthy and its final vacation spot is Homkund. Pilgrims do final rituals and different spiritual rituals within the lake after which depart the four-horned sheep to proceed in direction of Himalayan peaks. Thereafter they begin to climb down. Then they attain again to Sutol, Ghat, and Nouti.

Visitor Writer

The writer of this version is Rekha Devshali from Rudraprayag District in Uttarakhand. Her life journey from being a Authorities college instructor in a village to a social employee had been full of challenges. Together with efficiently bearing the tasks of a loving mom, daughter, and spouse, she does a thoughtful quantity of social work and writing work.

Translation: Madhumita Tamhane



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