The annual Machail Mata pilgrimage witnessed a record-breaking footfall this year with nearly 2 lakh pilgrims paying obeisance at the Himalayan temple in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kishtwar district, officials said on Monday. Over the years, the 43-day pilgrimage, rooted in decades-old tradition, has instilled deep faith in devotees travelling to seek the blessings of Mata Chandi Devi at the 9,705-foot high shrine, they added. The Shree Machail Mata Yatra has experienced a remarkable surge in attendance this year, with a staggering increase from around 58,000 arrivals in 2022 to 1.94 lakh this year, an official spokesperson said.
“This meteoric rise can be attributed to a myriad of factors, primarily the foolproof arrangements, augmentation of boarding facilities by the administration, coupled with the seamless execution of the pilgrimage’s schedule,” the spokesperson said. “The Yatra’s new-found popularity and its remarkable growth in turnover underline the enduring spiritual significance it holds for countless devotees, drawing them in increasing numbers,” he added.
The doors of the Himalayan temple are every year opened on the auspicious Baisakhi festival in April. The Shree Machail Mata Yatra commenced officially on July 25, witnessing a substantial influx of devotees right from the outset, the official said. One of the notable accomplishments was the provision of accommodation at the Yatri Bhawan in Gulabgarh, capable of hosting 2,000 pilgrims simultaneously, he added.
A tent city surrounding the temple and local homestays became a significant attraction this year, beckoning pilgrims with open arms. Kishtwar Deputy Commissioner Devansh Yadav oversaw the arrangements, ensuring seamless coordination with local, civil and police administrations besides other departments, army personnel, and teams of the Border Raod Organisation, the official said.
This comprehensive approach catered to the needs of the Yatris while unlocking the region’s tourism potential as well, he added. The Machail Yatra of 2023 would conclude on September 5, officials said.