Internationally Known Shrine ‘Kheer Bhawani’ Needs Repair And Renovation From M/S Dharmarth Trust.
Just yesterday I returned with my family from Kashmir. We had gone to perform a Mahayaggya there at the pious place of Mata Kheer Bhawani also known as the “Mataragniya”.
Mahayaggya Performed at Kheer Bhawani on 11-12thMay’22.
The Yagya was a long-standing dream of my wife to be performed at that place after we had already performed the Yagneopavit ceremony of our son there in 2019. By the grace of Mataragniya, the whole of Yagya was performed to the satisfaction of all who were lucky enough to be physically present there on that occasion. Around 277 people took Prasada as lunch the following day on 12th May when the Yagya was completed after the long ‘5000 Ahuti’ performed in five segments of the complete process of the Mahayaggya.
|KHEER BHAWANI TEMPLE IN 1903|
|KHEER BHAWANI TEMPLE AS OF 11.05.2022|
I have been coming to this pious place regularly since the early seventies. I still remember having spent almost a month in 1973 summers with my grandparents here and that was the occasion when my grandfather had performed the Yagya here. We had booked the rooms for that time and the whole day would be spent in the central large compound area covered fully with Chinar trees and the floor covered with big greyish stones of the ancient times.
A small historical background of ‘Kheer Bhawani’.
The temple attributes its unique name to the famous Indian dessert kheer, which is the main offering of the goddess. Maharaja Pratap Singh built this temple in 1912, which was later renovated by Maharaja Hari Singh.
Kheer Bhawani is a temple dedicated to the Goddess Kheer Bhavani (Maharagnya Bhagwati) constructed over a sacred spring. The worship of Kheer Bhawani is universal among the of . Most of them worship her as their protective patron deity (Kuladevi). Maharagniya was pleased with the devotion of and appeared before him and Ravana got an image of the Goddess installed in . However, the Goddess became displeased with the vicious and licentious life of Ravana and so didn’t want to stay in Sri Lanka. Therefore, she is believed to have instructed Lord to get the image from Sri Lanka and install it in the holy spot of Tulmul. Though Ragniya is a Rupa of Durga, this one is a Vaishnav Rupa in Kashmir. Ragniya is also known as Tripurasundari, while in (Sri) Lanka, the Mother Goddess was called Shyama. Sita, too, is believed to have been an incarnation of Ragniya. Ragniya Mahatmya has it that for those who meditate on Panch Dashi Mantra during Navreh, Mother Ragniya grants their wish. The mention of Kheer Bhawani is found in ‘s . Kalhana writes that the sacred spring of Tula Mula is in marshy ground. The name of the spring is Mata Ragini Kund (pond).
|SWAMI VIVEKANANDA IN KHEER BHAWANI IN 1898|
Swami Vivekananda visited this shrine in 1898:
This place was strongly reflecting the secular touch in the earlier times when Swami Vivekananda in 1898 came for the first time to pay his obeisance to Mata Kheer Bhawani-his Muslim boatman did not allow him to enter the temple with shoes on. The following snippet from the book-“Swami Vivekananda: The Great Inspirer, Part 1”-summarises it well:-
On June 26, the Swami suddenly felt a longing to leave the party and go to a quiet place. But not knowing that this was his intention, the party followed him to Kheer Bhavani. It was said to be the first time that Christian or Muslim had set foot there. The irony of the occasion was that the Muslim boatman would not allow the Swami and his Christian disciples to land with shoes on, “so thoroughly Hinduistic,” says Nivedita, “is the Mohammedanism of Kashmir with its forty Rishis, and pilgrimages made fasting, to their (i.e. the Hindus’) shrines.”-[Observer News Service | October 11, 2012].
More than a decade back, its renovation and repairs were done last:
Anyone coming to the temple would first take a dip in the small creek or a rivulet passing by the main gate entrance of the temple and after the bath, he or she would change the clothes and then enter the temple premises for paying their obeisance to the Mata. This probably refers to ten years or maybe twelve years’ back story.
While reading through the repair or construction work done on this shrine by the concerned authorities like the one handling Mata Kheer Bhawani-namely Dharmarth Trust, I could gather the reality. The actual repair work on the shrine was done exactly a decade back when the then Tourism Minister Ajat Shatru who was the son of Dr. Karan Singh. Dr. Karan Singh incidentally is the sole royal family Chairperson Trustee of this Dharmarth Trust-which is covering 175 temples of the north Indian segment besides covering the historical preservation.
|MR. AJATASHATRU SINGH TOOK STOCK OF RENOVATION IN 2012.|
As a part of the program of inspecting various religious sites of the state MLC, Mr. Ajatashatru Singh paid obeisance at Mata Kheer Bhawani Temple Tulmulla on 10thOct’2012 and took stock of the various developmental and renovation works of the temple. On the occasion, he was informed that the work on the STP project was in progress while the beatification of the temple complex was underway. He was informed that the thousands of pilgrims and tourists from across the country visit various shrines of the Valley as they have been provided all required facilities by the temple management. He said that we are proud of our centuries-old cultural heritage and harmony and brotherhood. Mr. Singh was accompanied by President J&K Dharamarth Trust, Mr. R. S. Jamwal, and other trustees.
The present scenario of the temple needs immediate repairs and renovation.
Now the scene is all gathered differently. If I say that the temple’s condition is not the good one and the maintenance of the whole temple premises needs a proper look into-it would not be inappropriate to point out. I was very sad to see that the attraction of the temple, that small rivulet just outside the temple entrance, was not at all functional. No flowing water in the canal and the same was being used by the people for washing their utensils and clothes. People are not at all taking the bathe before entering there as it used to be a strict practice or the rule earlier. Even inside the temple, the side walls have been completely eroded and there is no cementing left on those walls-which gave a bad look to the fencing of the pious compound.
|OLD VALUABLE CHINAR TREES WITH DEBILITATED BASES SHOW NEGLIGENCE.|
Earlier the big Chinar trees, which are the genuine attraction of the pilgrims and under which they would spread a sheet and sit for hours together-the base of those century-old trees also have been eroded. Nobody can sit properly under those trees.
|METALLIC FENCING/RAILING IN A BAD SHAPE.|
The metallic fencing surrounding the temple premises has either been broken or even at certain points missing.
|THE SURROUNDING WALLS OF THE SPRING NEED REPAIRS.|
|THE BASE OF THE TEMPLE IS ALSO NEGLECTED -NEEDS REPAIR.|
The central temple structure which is made amid the pious spring has not been maintained. The pillars of the temple need immediate plastering and paint. All these things have made the overall show of this internationally known pious center and shabbily maintained pious place.
What do the people living there express about the present condition of this shrine?
When you talk to the people who have been associated with the Temple administration at a personal and private level assuring them their names would be quoted nowhere, they directly blame the Trust authorities for not giving them the adequate funds for the upkeeping of this pious center. The little work which is visible as providing the flooring in the temple premises or even the various gadgets made available inside the prayer room and even the small water supply facilities provided-that is all possible because of the individual financial help provided by the devotees.
They have been openly saying that after some fixed time duration, the Dharmarth Trust people come and collect all the donations given in the locked boxes around the temple and take that to their central collection center. Unfortunately, the heavier donations coming that way have not been reinvested at the same time in the proportion it should be done.
Thanks to the Army stationed there for maintaining cleanliness:
|ARMY GUARDING THE IMPORTANT ENTRANCE GATE OF KHEER BHAWANI.|
Thanks to the army and the BSF people who have been giving their best to keep the whole territory safe and above all well maintained as far as the daily washing of the spring around the temple or even the compound is concerned.
The more disheartening thing is that the number of visitors coming to this temple, which is hardly 14 miles away from the central Srinagar city is always increasing. There hasn’t been even a dip noticed during the adverse times when the terrorist activities were at the highest. People of the Hindu community, although shunted out of the valley-still would come from the nearby areas and pay their obeisance to the Mata.
Every year in June/July “Mata Kheer Bhawani Mela” is celebrated:
Every year in June or sometimes in the July month-Mata’s special Day called the “Jaish Ashtami” is celebrated with full gaiety and fervor. This day is known as the “Mata Kheer Bhawani Mela”. Lacs of people gather on this day at the temple and pay their obeisance to the Mata. On this day, the authorities try to keep the maximum number of people around to maintain calm and discipline. In this special act also the army kept their play a very vital role. On this day, irrespective of the situation in the valley people throng in very high numbers, showing thereby its international popularity.
This shrine, with very high donations, surely needs the proportionate attention for its maintenance and face-upliftment:
Now, if such a high visit number of pilgrims is there, the donations and other offerings in the gold and other precious metals also are there in good proportion. Where all this goes and why the temple is still facing this ignorant approach is a very disturbing question. The Kashmiri Pandits have been raising this question as well, but unfortunately with a low tone and ineffective Dharmarth Trust authorities. If such a deity-place of Kashmiri Pandits is ignored this way and the trust does not respond positively, the overall development and further extensions and development of this very important place would be hampered and this could not happen anymore. The trust will have to re-look into their functioning and obligatory duties towards this temple-where from they are collecting huge amounts of wealth.