Rajinder Chand Anthal
It is seen that the Chandervanshi Rajas of Chenani contributed a lot for the construction of these Shiv temples and donated hundreds of Kanals of land for their maintenance and development.
Apart from the religious importance, the Sudhmahadev is the oldest established tourist spot – which keeps its arms open to all who come to enjoy the remarkable scenic beauty of this God’s valley. This station is developing fast at its own level and every event is celebrated with great strength and show.
Mela Sudhmahadev is a three days grand religious gathering at different spots for Holy bath and pooja in all temples of Sudhmahadev area. This year the Mela is being celebrated w.e.f. 3rd of June-2012. To reach Sudhmahadev one has to cover a distance of 116 Kilometers from Jammu towards east direction by bus or private vehicles. The road is in good condition and the vehicle passes through dense forests and valleys to reach Sudhmahadev via Chenani.
On the first day of the Mela, the first place to visit is Gouri Kund which is temple of “Goddess Parvati” situated in the coldest hilly belt of Sudhmahadev area- where Goddess Parwati used to worship Lord Shiva to get married with Lord Shiva. The grand old temple is build near a Holy stream – where devotees take holy bath and offer Pooja in the temple. Dharmarth Trust has raised a good number of halls nearby temple and thousands of people can stay there. Gouri- Kund is the first step of this Holy Yatra towards Sudhmahadev. The temple complex is surrounded by a cluster of evergreen trees.
After performing religious activities at Gouri-Kund, the devotees in thousands reach Sudhmahadev in the night and remain reaching continuously without break till morning.
Next day early in the morning the people wake up at 4 A.M. and march towards main bathing place called “Nada” where water comes out of a mountain at a high speed. This is the main place for Holy Bath at a distance of 2 kilometers. The sea of devotees after holy bath at “Nada” passes back through another Holy place Gou-Karan on the bank of Holy Devika Stream. After Gou-Karan people reach again at Sudhmahadev for early morning prayer in Shool Panishwar Lord Shiva temple Sudhmahadev. This temple complex is said to be constructed some one thousand years ago, but it was modified and renovated many times by the Rajas of Chenani to give it present shape. There is one excellent ‘ Haveli’ of Rajas of Chenani just adjacent to temple. The temple has large number of Samadhis of Naths. Some of them took live Samadhi during their life time. Another important place in this temple is 500 years old continuously burning Dhooni. It is astonishing to note that Ash is never taken out yet the Ash level of Dhooni remains same although logs of wood keep on burning day and night. Inside temple complex there is a small beautiful temple of Guru Gorakh Nath Ji and also black idol of Bharoo Nath Ji. It is also worth mentioning that in the treasure of Shiv temple, there lies one unidentified Jewel Called “Rudri” which is kept open for darshan during the Mela Days. The large size trident of Lord Shiva is also deeply buried in the temple compound with upper end visible. After main Pooja in Lord Shiva Temple people take bath in nearby “Papnashni Bowli” which is known to ward off the bad effects of wordly sins. At Sudhmahadev there is one another grand old temple of Devi Mal constructed by a Raja of Chenani. This temple is believed to be similar to Mata Sukrala temple of Billawar. The Temple of “Devi Mal” is built on a raised plateform of fine chiselled bricks having a good height. Inside the temple there is an beautiful idol of Goddess Mal Devi astride a lion and a status (Mohra) of unknown queen.
On the front gate of temple, there are stone made beautiful idols of “Hanuman, Mahakali,, Lord Shiva and Bharoo Nath” etc. Outside the temple there is a big lion of stone standing with his face towards, the temple and some iron tridents are buried in the earth. Goddess Mal fulfills the wishes of all devotees who come in her temple with a clear heart.
Mantalai is believed to be the Kingdom of Raja Himachal father of Goddess Parvati. Here at Mantalai, the marriage of Lord Shiva with Goddess Parvati took place. The Hawan Kund has now turned into a big Pond, nearby the old historic temple of Mantalai. People in thousands take holy bath and worship in the nearby temple. Mantalai is also known for the Aparna Ashram of late Swami Dharinder Brahamchari Ji, who raised multi-million infrastructure in the shape of hostels, hotels, helipad, gardens, Yoga research lab, Gau-Shalas, wide roads, swimming pools and Cinema halls etc.. The Ashram has almost turned into ruins and there is no further signs of development at this place. The last day of Mela marks a big wrestling competition at Sudhmahadev.
Sudhmahadev Mela provides opportunity to be a part of a great cultural and religious event which gets permanent place in everlasting memory of the visitor. It is believed that with the blessings of Lord Shiva -prosperity will come in the life of a person who visits Sudhmahadev with sense of devotion.
The Bazars are decorated at Sudhmahadev and some people provide free langer facilities at Gouri Kund, Sudhmahadev and Mantalai. Thousands of people from nearby villages of Doda District and Ramnagar Tehsil come in their traditional dresses and they sing Dogri classical songs, play music and keep dancing throughout night. The Govt. does all security related arrangements.
Sudhmahadev is visited throughout the year by tourists, devotees of Lord Shiva, but there is different charm to visit this place during the famous Mela Days. The small bazar provides each kind of facility for a comfortable stay. The Government has raised sufficient infrastructure to accommodate people, but keeping in view the sea of pilgrims, there is dire need of at least of five large halls with at least 200 permanent toilet facilities at Sudhamahadev and adjoining places to make Sudhmahadev Mela a grand success.
Rajinder Chand Anthal