Hundreds of devotees Sunday arrived at the temple of Mata Ragnya Devi at Tulmulla, one of the holiest shrines of Kashmiri Pandits, in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district to celebrate the annual festival of Kheer Bhawani falling on Monday.
Nestled in the shade of mammoth Chinars at this village in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district, the temple received hordes of devotees, most of them Kashmiri Pandits. Local Muslims welcomed the devotees.
Deputy Commissioner Ganderbal, Hashmat Ali Khan told Kashmir Post that the district administration had made elaborated arrangements for the annual Mela. “All the arrangements of accommodation, transport, security, sanitation, etc. have been made.”
The devotees were impressed with the cheerful welcome by the local Muslims. “I am so happy that I came here. I am glad to see young boys, both Muslims and Hindus, making arrangements for the festival of the Mata,” said a devotee.
As the devotees jostled to move closer to the main temple complex, the chants of hymns echoed through the temple compound.
In the outer compound, stalls were set up by local Muslims to sell various things needed to perform the rituals of the festival.
Police had made elaborated security arrangements for the annual mela.
The annual pilgrimage to one of the holiest shrines of Kashmiri Pandits takes place on Zyestha Ashtami, which falls on June 10.
The main function will be observed at Kheer Bhawani Temple, Tulmulla Ganderbal on June 10. “A large number of devotees are expected to visit the holy temple from June 9 and will stay there till the conclusion of the Mela on June 10,” an official said.
Superintendent of police traffic rural Muzafar Ahmed Shah told Kashmir Post that the arrangements have been made for ensuring hassle-free movement of commuters in general and devotees in particular to the holy shrine.
Earlier, in view of the yearly celebrations of Mela Kheer Bhawani, the traffic police rural Kashmir had issued a route plan for vehicles carrying devotees to the shrine at Kheer Bhawani Temple, Tulmulla Ganderbal, an official said.
According to the route plan, the devotees on board heavy motor vehicles shall adopt Foreshore Road towards Pandach to Beehama to Duderhama to Dumb Kadal to Theru to Dangerpora to Thalan to Tulmulla (de-board at this point ) to Dumb Kadal to Theru to Dangerpora to Thalan to Parking Spot (Ground No. 1 of Central University).
The devotees on board light motor vehicles shall adopt Foreshore Road towards Pandach to Beehama to Duderhama to Dumb Kadal to Theru to Dangerpora to Thalan to Tulmulla (de-board at this point ) to Thalan to Parking Spot (Ground No. 2 of Central University).
The devotees on board heavy motor vehicles adopting Sumbal route shall follow the Shadipora/Sumbal to Bypass to Barsoo to Dangerpora to Thalan to Tulmulla (de-board at this point) to Dumb Kadal to Theru to Dangerpora to Thalan to Parking Slot (Ground No. 1 of Central University).
The devotees on board light motor vehicles adopting Sumbal Route shall follow Shadipora /Sumbal to Bypass to Barsoo to Dangerpora to Thalan to Tulmulla (de-board at this point) to Thalan to Parking Spot (Ground No. 2 of Central University).
All the devotees on board heavy motor vehicles/light motor vehicles while returning back shall adopt the following route: Central University Parking to Thalan crossing to Tulmulla to DPL Ganderbal to Beehama to Pandach or Central University Parking to Barsoo Crossing to Barsoo to Bypass to Shadipora/Sumbal.
All the passenger vehicles coming from Ganderbal towards Safapora, Wakura, Lar and Sumbal shall adopt Beehama to Dumb Kadal to Theru to Khanihama to Repora Bypass road for both side movements. No passenger vehicle shall be allowed to move from Dangerpora to Larson road.
Tulmulla Adda, Tulmulla-Dumb Kadal road, Dangerpora to Tulmulla road is a “No Parking Zone”. Any vehicle found wrongly parked on the road shall be towed and the violator will be prosecuted accordingly.
No vehicle shall be allowed to move against traffic from Tulmulla to Dangerpora, Theru to Ladwun or from Larson to Tulmulla or from Barsoo towards Dangerpora.
No passenger vehicle shall adopt Kahnihama to Dangerpora link road, during the Mela period.
In case of congestion on Dangerpora to Tulmulla road, Light Motor Vehicles shall also adopt Tulmulla to Dumb Kadal to Theru to Dangerpora to Thalan to Central University for parking their vehicles.
The officials have directed that one-way traffic for all vehicles will be enforced strictly.
Central University Ground No. 1 (For heavy motor vehicles only); Central University ground No. 2 (For light motor vehicles only);
Govt Girls High School Tulmulla near Thallan (for light motor vehicles only);
Private land of Abdul Rashid Bhat near Ex. MLA Ganderbal Mohammad Maqbool’s House (For light motor vehicles only).
Meanwhile, all the commuters/general public, especially people living in the vicinity of the shrine and surrounding areas have been requested to cooperate with traffic officials and adhere to the traffic plan as envisaged for ensuring hassle-free movement, an official said.
Besides, the district administration has kept vehicles available at Central University parking slot as well as outside the Mata Kheer Bhawani Temple for carrying the devotees from parking slots to the Temple and vice versa, he said.
Amid daily gun battles, a convoy of 84 vehicles was flagged off from Jammu towards the ancient shrine of Kheer Bhawani in Kashmir for the annual pilgrimage under heavy security escort.
The vehicles were flagged off by Divisional Commissioner Sanjeev Verma. Relief Commissioner TK Bhat was also present on the occasion. The yatra will cover nearly 300 km to reach Tulmulla in Ganderbal district, where religious festivities will be observed on June 10 on ‘Jyesta Astami’.Since the exodus of the minority community in 1990 due to threats by militants, Pandits visit the shrine under security escort from camps in Jammu. Thousands of pilgrims are expected to converge at the shrine for the mela this year, especially displaced Kashmir Pandits from across the country. Pilgrims are also visiting other shrines, including those in volatile South Kashmir districts.
“As many as 84 vehicles provided by the state government were flagged off at 7 am on Sunday. A total of 3,028 pilgrims were in the buses. Thousands other are visiting on their own in groups. This year, we expect a good footfall of pilgrims,” said TK Bhat.
For centuries, the spring at Tulmulla has been a sacred place for the Hindus in Kashmir. Since 1860, the temple is managed by Dharmath trust, founded by erstwhile Dogra dynasty, established by Maharaja Gulab Singh.
“It is our revered shrine but since our migration from the Valley, we only visit on ‘Jyesta Astami’. We hope peace prevails in the Valley”, said Girja Kaul, one of the devotees.