After a record 15,000 pilgrims paid obeisance at Subar Nag temple on Saturday, 9,000 devotees converged at ancient Nagni Mata Temple on the eve of Baisakhi on Sunday. However, the people lashed out at Jammu and Kashmir tourism department in general and Bhaderwah development authority (BDA) in particular for not being able to promote the prehistoric events under pilgrimage tourism.
Nagni dhar, named after the serpent goddess Nagni Mata, is located in a dense forest, eight kilometers from Bhaderwah town. Traditionally hundreds of devotees converge every year on the eve of Baisakhi to pay obeisance at the 800 year-old temple.
Bhaderwah Valley, besides being famous for snow-peaked mountains, lush green high altitude meadows and numerous fresh water bodies, is also known for its unique Nag culture. According to local faith, Nagni Mata is a major symbol of the ancient culture.
After union and state government decided to promote Bhaderwah as a major tourist destination and to give it a practical shape, Bhaderwah Development Authority was established. Since then, people have been demanding ancient and unique festivals and fairs should be brought under the ambit of pilgrimage tourism, in order to attract more tourists and to make it a round the year affair.
“It is really unfortunate and uncalled for on the part of BDA and tourism department that Bhaderwah is not being promoted at any forum. Despite repeated requests, they did not even install hoardings to attract and welcome pilgrims visiting these historic events, which shows their non seriousness and pathetic attitude towards promoting tourism in Bhaderwah,” said Manoj Kotwal, a tourism player of Bhaderwah.
“During my official assignment, I came to know about the ancient temple. After visiting it, I was taken completely off guard to see the mystic beauty of the place. To add charm to it, the ancient temple houses an idol of goddess Nagni,” said Ghansham N Jha, a devotee from Delhi.
“I am here for the second consecutive year with my family as I fell in love with this place, but I am unable to understand why the authorities have kept these places under wraps for such a long time. If prompted properly, this place can become as popular as Vaishno Devi, Shiv Khori and Amarnath Yatra,” Jha added.
Besides common devotees and tourism players, members of Nagni Seva Sang, who voluntarily make all the arrangements for thousands of devotees, are also up in arms against BDA and tourism department.
“During a meeting with BDA, the CEO showed a lot of interest and enthusiasm to project and promote ancient Subar Dhar and Nagni Mata Baisakhi festivals. But all his excitement fizzled out as he did not install a single hoarding or used social media to attract tourists. Is this the way to attract tourists?” said Dhananter Singh, executive committee member of Nagni Mata Sang.