K D Maini
Swami Budha Amarnath Temple is situated in between the main belt of Pir Panchal range at Rajpura Mandi which is 23 kilometers on the north east of Poonch city. This sacred place is located on the confluence of two gushing streams namely Nallah Gagri and Pulsta Nadi. This place is surrounded by snow bound lofty peaks, thick belt of fir forests (in the eastern side), lush green pastures and crystal clear streams and Nallahs. The climate of this attractive and charming spot is very pleasant and cool. At present Swami Budha Amarnath temple is connected with motorable road and it is 244 kilometers from Jammu.
Swami Budha Amar Nath Yatra is a centuries old tradition. However it was regularized and flourished during Dogra rule of local Dogra rulers Raja Moti Singh, Baldev Singh, Sikhdev Singh and Jagat Dev Singh in between 1852 to 1939. As per routine the yatra of local pilgrims of Jammu province has already started from June. From 2005 onward the yatries from all over the country who visit Swami Amar Nath Kashmir to have a Darshan of Barfani (Ice lingum) baba have also started visiting Swami Budha Amar Nath Mandi for the Darshan of Chattani Baba.
The original temple has been constructed with one big stone. There are four doors in the temple– on the northern, southern, eastern and western sides which indicates that the doors of this shrine are open for all the four varnas. There is a natural Shivlinga of white stone (Chakmak) inside the temple. A number of ancient idols collected from nearby villages are have also installed in the premises of the temple where there were four holy springs near the temple in the past. At present the water of three springs has been diverted to fourth one which is on the southern side of the temple. The water of these springs is considered holy from religious point of view. The pilgrims first take bath in this spring and then enter the temple for prayers.
This holy place has great religious importance. It is said that at this very place Lord Shiva had started narrating the Amar Katha to Parvati Ji which ended at Swami Amarnath located near Pahalgam Kashmir. This temple is considered older than the Swami Amarnath Ji of Kashmir. This is why the shrine is known as Swami Budha Amarnath, it is believed that one must visit this sacred place before performing the yatra of Amarnath Kashmir.
A number of legends are famous in and around Poonch city regarding the eruption of this ancient temple. As per one legend, Mahatma Pulsta (the grandfather of King Ravana of Sri Lanka) meditated at this very place for a pretty long time. He was a devotee of Lord Shiva. There are a number of references in Neelmat Puran about Pulsat Rishi. As per these references, Pulsat was also an artist and sculptor. He erected a number of images of God. One of the reference in Neelmat Puran is as under:-
‘By seeing the Goddess erected by Pulsat, one is free from all his sins and gets highest knowledge……. The temple erected by him gives one’s merit of the gift of cows and also releases from the diseases’.
The legend goes that Pulsat meditated with such a devotion at Rajpura Mandi that Lord Shiva gave him Darshan at this very place. In the memory of Darshana of Lord Shiva, Rishi Pulsat constructed the temple of Shiva and erected a lingum there. Since the Pulsat was a great Rishi, a sculptor and very popular among the habitants of this area, therefore, after his death the people converted this small temple into a shrine. Later on this shrine took the name of Swami Budha Amarnath. Even now number of idols of ancient time are available in this area. It is possible that these idols may have been erected by Pulsat Rishi.
Swami Budha Amar Nath Mandi is one of the oldest religious shrines for Hindus in this region. This year the annual function of Swami Budha Amar Nath Mandi known as Mela Swami Budha Amar Nath shall be celebrated in the Shrine on 30th August 2023 on Sharavan Purnima, after the installation of Charri Mubarakh in the temple. This Yatra started on 18th August and shall continue upto 28th August 2023. The Yatra Officer Narinder Mohan Suri told that on 29th August 2023, the historic Charri Mubarak on foot Yatra shall start from Dashnami Akhara Poonch under the Chairmanship of Swami Vishav Aatma Anand Ji Maharaj. At Mandi Bazar, this Yatra shall be received by Muslim community under the leadership of Shamim Ghnai by offering soft drinks, fruits and sweets. After passing through the Bazar in between Bajjan, Kirtan and Religious Slogans the processions shall reach Swami Budha Amarnath Temple on the same day. Bakshi Gulshan Kumar General Secretary of Management committee Swami Budha Amarnath temple told that the yatris shall be received by Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims of surrounding villages and convert the occasion into a composite cultural heritage of Poonch. Next day on 30th August, the Raksha Bandan Mela shall be organized in which pilgrims from all over Jammu province and abroad shall participate. The Darshan in Swami Budha Amarnath temple shall start at 4.00 AM onward. The female Yatris shall have a dip in Parvati Kund while male Yatris shall bath at Pulast Ghat newly constructed by Tourism Department.
The District Development Commissioner Poonch Yasin M. Chowdhary told that the boarding lodging arrangements for the Yatris have been made at Poonch and Swami Budha Amarnath Shrine in collaboration with the Management committee of Dashnami Akhara Poonch, Tourism and other organizations for the convenience of the Yatris. During Yatra days drinking water supply shall be arranged enroute towards Mandi by PHE Department and relaxing tents shall be setup near the food stalls for the Yatris at various places enroute towards Mandi. The SSP Poonch Viney Sharma told that elaborate security arrangements have been made from Bhimbar Galli upto Poonch and then to Swami Budha Amarnath temple with active participation of CRPF and BSF while the 93 INF Brigade shall dominate the whole area under their jurisdiction for the smooth conduct of Yatra. Basant Ram of Management committee of Dashnami Akhara Poonch also told that the celebration arrangements in Dashnami Akhara Poonch have been finalized and Charri Mubarakh procession headed by Swami Vishav Aatma Anand ji Maharaj shall start from Poonch at 9.00 AM on 29th August 2023 which shall move towards Mandi in which thousands of devotees, Yatris, Sadus, prominent persons of Muslim and Sikh communities shall also participate.
K D Maini