The journey of faith

K D Maini
Swami Budha Amarnath Shrine Mandi Poonch is one of the biggest religious cum heritage places of Jammu province. This ancient temple is located on the confluence of Gagri stream and Pulast Nadi in between the mountain range of Pir Panchal.
The shrine is 31kms away from Poonch Town situated on old Loran-Tosha Maidan route near Mandi Town in Rajpura village, where Dogra Rajas of Poonch would stay during summer season.
A number of legends are famous in and around Poonch city regarding the eruption of this ancient temple. As per one legend, Mahatma Pulast (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 Pulast Rishi. As per these references, Pulast was also an artist and sculptor. One of the references in Neelmat Puran is as under:-
The legend goes that Pulast meditated with such a devotion at Rajpura Mandi that Lord Shiva gave him a Darshan at this very place. In the memory of the Darshan of Lord Shiva, Rishi Pulast constructed the temple of Shiva and erected a lingam there. Since the Pulast was a great Rishi, a sculptor and very popular person 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 a number of idols of ancient time are available in this area. It is possible that these idols may have been sculpted by Pulast Rishi.
There is a historical background of this area also. Swami Budha Amarnath temple is hardly one kilometer north of Mandi which remained a place of great importance for traders of Kashmir and rest of India upto 1452 AD. From this very place, the high mountains of Panchal range start and it was not possible for the Punjabi traders to cross over these mountains along with their loaded horses and camels. On the other hand, Kashmiri traders were not in a position to accommodate themselves in the hot climatic conditions of Punjab. Therefore, the traders of both sides would assemble at this very spot for exchange of their goods for centuries together. It is said that business stalls came up near the temple of Swami Budha Amarnath and the businessmen would reside in the Sarai constructed there. By this way, the temple also remained the centre of worship for centuries. But this temple disappeared from the place when a cloudburst hit the place.
Another legend goes that a hermit (sadhu) was a great devotee of Lord Shiva and was worshipping him in a cave in the Himalayan range. By realizing his devotion, Lord Shiva once came in his dream and told him that his prayer had been accepted by him. And he must come out from the cave. Then Lord Shiva directed the devotee to go to the present Rajpura Mandi and asked him to explore his temple which was embedded in the earth. Next morning the Sadhu started travelling towards Rajpura, and reached there after sometime. He started excavating at the place after which the top of the old temple came out from the earth. When Raja of Poonch came to know about the eruption of the temple at Rajpura, he sent his soldiers for further excavation. By this way, the ancient temple along with four holy springs were excavated from the earth. Then the Raja along with his Darbaries also visited this place. Thereafter it again attained its part glory.
Basant Ram, the president of Dashnami Akhara Poonch when asked about the arrival of pilgrims, he said that the Yatra has already started pouring in the Akhara from Rajouri, Jammu and other parts of the State and abroad. They stay in Dashnami Akhara Poonch for a night and next morning after taking breakfast, leave for the Darshan of Chattani Baba at Swami Budha Amarnath Mandi. Dashnami Akhara Poonch is the main halting station for the yatris where the accommodation facilities for about 1500 yatris is available at a time. However on yatra days, with the help of District administration, additional accommodation facilities for about 5000 yatris at a time is also created.
As per Nishu Gupta President VHP, the Yatra on country level shall be start from Aug 17 – Aug 24 in which the devotees from all the states of India shall take part. These yatris are received in college ground Poonch by the citizens of Poonch in a big procession. After serving light refreshment, the pilgrims leave for Dashnami Akhara for a halt during the night. Next day early in the morning they will leave for Swami Budha Amarnath Shrine.
On 24th August 2018, the Pooja ceremony of holy Chaddi Mubarkh shall be organized in old hall of Akhara. After Hawan and Parvachan of Swami ji of Akhara Shri Vishav Aatma Anand Sarswati ji Maharaj, the procession of Chaddi Mubarkh shall start from Akhara at 9:00 am and after taking salute from police contingent, the Chaddi Mubarkh Yatra shall leave for 23kms long route upto Rajpura Mandi on foot. Thousands of devotees, sadhus and kirtan mandlis accompany the procession. A number of stalls are organized en-route towards Mandi at Kazimorah, Nangali Sahib, Gundi, Dingla, Chandak and Seklu. The security forces at Seklu shall receive the holy mace and after Poojan of Chaddi Mubarkh and light refreshment Yatra shall leave for Mandi. At Mandi Bazzar, the local Muslims usually welcome Yatra by serving light drinks. At this stage the Yatra takes the shape of brotherhood and communal harmony.
The yatra reaches Swami Budha Amarnath Shrine at about 4:00PM where District administration, management committee and prominent Muslims of Mandi receive the Yatra at the gate of the temple, wherefrom Swami Vishav Aatma Anand Sarswati take the holy mece to the temple premises and after performing religious ceremony, the holy mace is installed in the temple for Darshans. On the eve of Rakhsa Bandan festival on Aug 26, the Darshan of Swami Budha Amarnath shall start at 4:00 am. A big mela is organized at Shrine complex every year. The people irrespective of caste and creed participate in the Mela. Free community langars are also organised to serve breakfast, light refreshments and meal.
The DDC Poonch Rahul Yadav said that all necessary arrangements like assured power supply, provision of portable drinking water, public conveniences shall be made for yatris. As per SSP Poonch Rajiv Pande tight security arrangements on 57km route from Bimber Galli to Poonch town and Chandak to Swami Budha Amarnath have been made. It is believed that Lord Shiva had started narrating Amar Katha to Parvati ji from this very place which ended at Swami Amarnath Kashmir. It is also believed that Lord Shiva fulfills the desires of the devotees who shall have the Darshan of Baba Chattani on Shravan Purnima.