Rajinder Chand Anthal
Baba Yug Dev is the chief Protectorate local God of old Himta region of Chenani. The temple of Baba Yug Dev is situated on the top of evergreen meadow of Yug Dhar at a distance of 18 kilometres from Chenani. Most of the road is motorable with about 2 kms on foot journey to reach the temple. This place can also be reached from Samroli-Sewna-Satyalta route and via Barmeen-Ghordi route from Ramnagar side.
Mela Yug Dhar is one of the oldest melas of Chenani in long list of local Melas, Jattars and Kudds. It is said that Raja Ram Chand of Chenani had participated in this Mela in the year 1947 with his cabinet. This year the Mela will be held on 31 May 2022. Apart from Mela local public visit this Temple regularly to seek blessings from the Baba for welfare of mankind, protection of crops and overall prosperity of the area. It is believed that no famine and starvation ever happened in this region due to divine blessings of Baba YUG DEV.
On the day of the Mela people reach this place early in the morning from Satyalta, Tandhar, Chenani, Kud, Nagulta, Gharian, Pattangarh, Charat, Pakhlai, Barmeen, Malad, Ghordi, Ramnagar and Udhampur areas in large numbers. Some devotees reach the destination one day earlier.
In the early hours of Mela day, the idol of Baba Yug is given Holy Bath. Thereafter Pooja is performed with chanting of sacred verses by the Pujari. The Navgraha Poojan and other specific rituals are followed next. The temple presents decorated look. Baba Yug is presented with Rot and Gurh by the pilgrims. The management of the event is handled by a local Trust of social workers of the area.
The Rural folk gathering is seen making purchases of sweets, toys, and other items from the temporary stalls at the Mela site. The male members are usually seen in kurta pajama with colourful PAGRI on the head and their female counterparts are seen in bright multi-coloured suits. Various local artists, dancers and dogri singers display their talent to make the event charming. The students from nearby schools show their creativity through short skits and dance. The people sit here and there singing Dogri folk songs in small groups. Some Govt. departments highlight their policies and public welfare programmes through exhibition and straight talk etc. District Administration Udhampur takes care of sanitation, electricity, water, and security concerns of the Mela. Religious sermons are delivered during the Mela.
A Bhandara is also held here for all. The bangle sellers and sweet sellers see great rush as people of these far off places hardly get chance to visit cities in normal course. Thousands of people stand in long queue to have glimpse of idol of the Baba Yug to worship and get Parsad. The rural folk and urban participants exchange their social and cultural thoughts during the Mela.
Legends say that once Baba Yug Dev had gone on pilgrimage of Kailash Kund. While returning he tried to bring Deodar Trees from Mantalai area for plantation on Yug Dhar but due to some divine reason the trees could not reach Yug Dhar and fell at nearby location called Deairon-Ka-Dabbar. It is believed that Baba Yug fulfils the wishes of all devotees for their wellness and prosperity.
Pertinent to mention that this grassland is spread over a large area of several kilometres from Badansoo (Tandhar) to Kulasar hills with vast area villages on both sides of slopy ends of Yug Dhar. From May till September every year the Yug Dhar meadows remain occupied by seasonal mMigratory ‘Deras’ of local inhabitants from surrounding villages for cattle grazing.
In spite of having excellent tourism potential and situated at a higher altitude than Patnitop, Yug Dhar has not seen any tourism related developments till date. The long evergreen unexplored meadows of Yug Dhar are highly suitable for tourism, adventure tourism, paragliding, and trekking, etc. For the last many years there has been strong public demand for the development of entire area of Yug Dhar. Tourism Department should formulate action plan by sanctioning separate Yug Dhar Tourism Development Authority for proper development and protection of this sweetest gift of nature.
(The author is former Zonal Education Officer)
Rajinder Chand Anthal