Dipankar Sikder, Jai Singh
ITBP,Uttarakhand, SDRF Uttarakhand
Siddhesh More, Toral Zala
The three-week-long Nanda Devi Raj Jaat is a pilgrimage and festival of Uttarakhand in India. People from the entire Garhwal-Kumaon Division, as well as other parts of India and the world participate in Nanda Devi Raj Jat Yatra. The goddess Nanda Devi is worshipped at dozens of places in Kumaon and Garhwal, but the region around Mt. Nanda Devi and its sanctuary, which falls in the Pithorgarh, Almora and Chamoli District, is the prime area related to Nanda Devi. The Jaat, meaning Yatra or pilgrimage starts from Nauti village near Karnprayag and goes up to the heights of Roopkund and Homekund with a four horned sheep. After the havan - yagna is over, the sheep is freed with decorated ornaments, food and clothing, and the other offerings are discarded. 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, interesting legends and awe-inspiring locales. The journey is difficult because of the difficult terrain it goes through, it goes high upto 16000 feet above sea level. Besides many interesting places, one passes by a Lake known as Roopkund which is surrounded by hundreds of ancient skeletons and there are interesting legends behind this skeletal lake. Nanda Devi Raj Jat Yatra 2014 started from 18 August 2014 and went up to 6 September 2014. 40000 people covered distance of approximately 290 km. The 230 km distance was covered by foot or by trekking route and the rest 60 km was covered by the bus transport. Nanda Devi Raj Jaat is organised once in 12 years. Nanda Devi Raj Jaat 2014 has special importance because that is the 1st ever Raj Jaat of Uttarakhand State, which was part of Uttar Pradesh State in earlier Raj Jaat.