An unexpected fallout of the Jammu and Kashmir government's decision to call off the Amarnath Yatra due to security reasons has been the suspension of the annual Machail Mata Yatra in the Kishtwar district of Jammu region.
The Yatra to the temple of Chandi Mata deity has been going on for the last 10 days, but Kishtwar District Magistrate Angrez Singh Rana announced its suspension on Friday.
The district magistrate has cited security reasons for the suspension of the Yatra saying that the pilgrimage would be resumed during the next two to three days.
Scores of pilgrims have already visited the temple shrine situated 28 kms from Kishtwar town.
Each year, over 5,000 pilgrims visit the temple who, according to the belief of the devotees, had her original abode in the neighbouring Himachal Pradesh.
This is the reason that in addition to 'yatris' from the Jammu region, the pilgrimage draws a lot of pilgrims from Himachal Pradesh as well.
This Hindu pilgrimage was started in Kishtwar district in 1984 when a local police officer Thakur Kulbir Singh discovered the abode of the deity.
Thakur Kulbir Singh became the custodian of the shrine. In 2018, due to some tension among the devotees, the state government transferred the management of the shrine into the hands of the local district magistrate.
The 'Mata's Chhari' (mace of the goddess) is carried by devotees in a procession on August 17 each year to the deity's temple.
The procession of 'sadhus' and devotees passes through Udhampur, Kishtwar, Gul Gulabgarh and Musu till it reaches the shrine on August 21 when the Yatra officially ends with the final 'puja'.
A helicopter service is also available for devotees from Gul Gulabgarh.
The journey from Kishtwar town to the shrine is spread over 17 kms of road and 11 kms of a treacherous, uphill trek to the shrine.
So far, over 5,000 pilgrims have paid obeisance at the shrine, officials said.
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