After Shradh (Pitra paksh), which culminated on Saturday, people in large numbers beelined to the temples on Sunday, which marked the beginning of 9 days of Navratras. In Shimla, besides the temples, heavy rush was found at the sites of Bhandara at many places in the city. This bhandara will continue all through these nine days.
Despite day-long downpour, people in large numbers reached temples with religious gusto and dedication.
Located about 13 km from Shimla, the Tara Devi temple was found crowded since early morning when the gates were thrown open at 6am. The state transport plied its local buses more than 100 times to ferry the devotees from Shimla. In addition to the buses, a large number of private vehicles were also seen taking the arduous uphill 2.5 km drive from Anandpur to the temple. So much was the traffic that a battery of police personnel were deployed to manage the movement of vehicles. According to the temple authorities there were more than 8000 visitors to the temple who braved the rains.
Employees of public sector SJVN had organized a special Bhandara at the temple on the first day which obviously added to the crowd. The temple premises was found to have been decked up with a new stone and wood structure. Wooden and metallic work in pahari art adds to the picturesque temple view located atop the hill. I was informed that SJVN had funded the renovation works to the extent of Rs.2 crore. The company had earlier provided for solar high mast lights also in the temple.The company, official informed that they were taking care of cultural heritage of the age old structures in Himachal Pradesh, under its CSR policy.
Huge rush was also seen at other temples like Dhingu Mata mandir in Sanjauli, Kamna Devi temple in Boilugang, Kali Bari temple in Shimla, etc
At Taradevi temple the police Personnel had to stop plying of private vehicles from Anandpur upwards intermittently whenever the road above got choked with traffic. There is a small parking lot for about 50 cars at the temple which is also used by buses for parking and boarding of passengers.
A temple priest told that earlier there was no road connectivity to this place and devotees from Shimla used to track the way up from national highway close to Taradevi railway station while those from Shoghi side used to track up from Anandpur village below. Traces of these tracks are still found in the area. In Shimla too there were very few local buses and people used to travel long distances on foot.
The new generation has been displaying lethargic approch hardly take the challenge of tracking up the path to Taradevi temple. They prefer taking road route by cars. A youngster opined that the place could be linked through a rope way from the national highway below. But with the Jakhu ropeway being scarcely used by tourists, chances are that no entrepreneur would dare invest in this preposition, lest the project also finds hurdles for forest and other clearances.