A Story from Himalayas by Mukesh Khugsal
Nanda Devi Yatra has become an inseparable part of the socio-cultural spectrum of Uttarakhand region of India and is celebrated with great devotion and dedication by local folks of Uttarakhand. Its cultural philosophy and religious holiness is associated with Nanda, who was married to Lord Shiva, residing on top of Trishul – Himalayas, one of the sacrosanct mountain peak, Nanda is treated as daughter of the area (Himalaya) and to commemorate her departure to her in-law’s house. Yatra is performed for solace and salvation every 12 years from Nauti village to Homkund – the final terminal point
Nanda Devi Raj Jaat Yatra is a festival that stretches for whole three weeks. It is one such Uttarakhand festival that is globally famous. Innumerable people participate in Nanda Devi Raj Jat Yatra from India and other parts of the World.
Goddess Nanda Devi is a popular deity at many places of Garhwal & Kumaon region of Uttarakhand. Nanda Devi Raj Jat is organised once in every 12 years in Chamoli after royal priests’ descendents and the Kunwar royal family make elaborate preprations in the village of Nauti and in Kansuwar respectively. It is primarily a religious pilgrimage spanning for 280 kilometer. The trek takes about 20 days to be completed – longest by foot in Asia.
This Raj jat yatra originates from the Nauti village 20 km of Karnaprayag tehsil of Indian state of Uttarakhand. The Kunwar of village Kansua inaugurates the ceremony. The legend is this that Nanda Devi, consort of Lord Shiva left her village and went to the nanda devi parbat. Therefore when the yatra starts, heavy rain occurs as if the devi is crying. This yatra covers many villages and in between the Devi meets her sister in the Bhagwati village.
This yatra is very tough on account the landscape it goes through. In between the yatra there comes a Lake Roopkund where lies the hundreds of skeletons. It is said that once the King took some dancers to this sacred place due to which heavy snow fell and people died and the dancers got transformed into stone which can be sen in Patarnachonia. The other myth is this that king Yasodhwal’s wife was pregnant and while she was giving birth to her child, her placenta flowed down to Roopkund and this in turn caused the death of the people on that place. That is why the river Nandakini lost her significance and the Nandprayag is not considered sacred as the other Panch Prayags like Devprayag, Vishnuprayag, Karanprayag and Rudraprayag.