Hudh Mata & Tri-Sandhya - Visit to Brahma Peaks

While three naturally formed ice lingams at a cave in Nanth Nala are revered asShiva, Parvati and Ganesh, the water stream two kms ahead is one of nature’smysteries – flowing only thrice a day and disappearing in between.When I visited Dachhan Valley in Kishtwar last year, I wanted to visit NanthNala, a holy place that I had heard of. Not much was known about this pilgrimageoutside Kishtwar district, but I had read a few sketchy accounts about it andthat fired my imagination. It seemed like another Amarnath. So, I reached Jammu and drove toKishtwar. The route ahead was through little known places – Tangdoor,Bhanderkoot, Palmar, Patimhala and finally Dachhan, the last four approachableonly on foot.

From Kishtwar bus stand, we took a cab at 5 am for Tangdoor. It was a two hour drive. We stopped for tea there and prepared for the walk ahead. It took us three hours to reach Sounder, the gateway to Dachhan Valley. We were tired but so striking was the landscape that we ignored our tired and protesting limbs. We walked through the day and reachedPanjhdhara at 4 pm. It was going to be out stop for the night.

When we got up the next morning, so beautiful were the surroundings that wedecided to spend another night at Panjhdhara and explore the region. In theprocess we visited quaintly named villages around – Dilgoth, Lopara and Chicha,one more beautiful than the other. Satiated by the end of the day, we sunk intoour beds early as we had to leave early next morning for Gugath,our camp for the next night. It took us almost an entire day to get there, butthe reward was gorgeous views almost all through.

Our next day’s destination was Kaikoot, 15 kms ahead. This was the first mainhalt of the pilgrimage, for at Kaikoot stands the temple of Hud Mata, a localdeity. Hud Mata is the local name of Parvati, Shiva’s consort, derived fromSanskrit word hutti or ahuti.

In her previous incarnation, Parvati is believedto have been the daughter of king Daksh Prajapati. According to local tradition, sheresorted to self-immolation in the yagya organised by her father, who hadinsulted her husband. Close to the Hud Mata Temple is yet another old temple inKaikoot. It is Naga temple made of deodar wood and stone which was made in the 17th century during the rule of Raja Maha Singh of Kishtwar. The fine woodcarvings and stone sculptures spoke of brilliant craftsmanship of the period.

Terraced fields surround the temples and amidst them are old stone walls,suggesting that this was a place of some significance in the past. Close by, atthe foot of Brahma peaks, is a small lake called Brahmsar. Its water is icy coldand sparkles in a brilliant sky blue colour. Taking a dip in the cold water ofthe lake is nothing short of adventure, but is considered holy by locals whobelieve that Lord Brahma, the creator of the universe, resides on theoverlooking Brahma peaks. They believe that all sins can be cleansed by a dip inthese waters.

The beauty of the region that we had travelled thus far was matchlessand if developed well, the tourist circuit of Kishtwar-Ikhala-Panjdhara-Nauthnala-Tri Sandhya-Brahmsar can attract thousands of intrepid travellers. It is also a good place for trekkers.

From Kaikoot, we headed to our final destination ‘Nanth Nala’ of Dachhan. Thereis a cave at Nanth Nala, which has three naturally formed ice lingams; thedevotees believe them to be Lord Shiva, Parvati and their son Ganesh. From theceiling of the cave, milky limewater oozes out drop by drop and falls on thethree lingams. Elderly locals say that there used to be a kund (pool) inside thecave earlier in which, if you were a true believer, darshan of Lord Shiva’sfamily could be had with the help of a torch light!

Devotees throng to the cave and the Hud Mata Temple annually on ‘Haar ShudiAshtmi’ (eighth day of the bright lunar fortnight in the month of Haar in thelocal calendar). Initially, only the people of Dachhan participated in thisyatra, but now it has gained popularity and people from other areas of Kishtwardistrict are joining in as well. As part of the ritual, pilgrims of Kishtwar andits adjoining area assemble at Gori Shanker Mandir in Sarkoot and travel bybuses up to Patimhala and then on light vehicles to Ikhala, 40 km from Kishtwar.From Ikhala, they reach Sounder on foot.

After a night’s halt at Sounder, the pilgrims, along with the holy mace of ‘HudMata’, start their onward journey from Radha Krishan Temple in Sounder to ViraatMata Mandir in Dilgoot, travelling a distance of about 6 kms. Many more devoteesjoin the yatra in this leg. After the night’s stay at Dilgoot, the picturesquejourney towards Nanth Nala begins. Travelling a distance of about 20 kms,pilgrims reach Gugath, a picturesque ‘summer resort’ for the shepherds ofDachhan. The next day, which is Haar Shudi Ashtami, the yatra concludes at ashrine which is 8 kms from Gugath. The pilgrims then head to Tri Sandhya,another 2 kms ahead, for a holy bath to complete their yatra.

It was on the morning of the fifth day of our ‘yatra’ that we sighted the BrahmaPeaks. It was here, where we stood, that the magical stream appears thrice aday. The Tri Sandhya stream is like any other stream we had seen, except that itflows only thrice a day, every day.

Brahma peaks.

We watched as the stream magically appearedat 5 pm and then, slowly receded and disappeared without any trace by sunset.Devotees consider the waters sacred and it is considered auspicious to take abath in the water for cleansing of the soul.

The name ‘Tri Sandhya’ has beenattributed to this stream in the belief that prayers should performed thrice aday by this stream to Lord Shiva, Parvati and Lord Brahma, who are believed toreside in the region. The stream is situated opposite the Brahma Peaks with theriver ‘Nanthnala’ flowing in between. Locals believe that the stream alwaysappears thrice a day, except in the presence of a wicked person. The presence ofsuch person is considered a bad omen for the region and the waterfall would notappear, they say.

With the myths in our mind and magic in our hearts on the morning of the sixthday, we headed back and were able to reach Panjhdhara by 5 pm. The next day wewere at Kishtwar before noon, physically going back to our homes but mentallystill at Nanth Nala.

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Also see
1. Brahma Peaks pics
2. Kishtwar City
3. Kishtwar in snow

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