- Nanda Devi Raj Jat
Three week long Nanda Devi Raj Jat is one of the world famous festivals of Uttaranchal in India. People from entire Garhwal division-Kumaon division as well as other parts of India and the world participate in Nanda Devi Raj Jat Yatra.
Goddess Nanda Devi is worshipped at dozens of places in Kumaon, but the region around Mt. Nanda Devi and its sanctuary, which falls in the Pithoragarh district, Almora district and Chamoli district, is the prime area related to Nanda Devi. In Chamoli Nanda Devi Raj Jaat is organized once in 12 years. The Jaat 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’s and the other offerings are dischared. People also celebrate the annual Nanda Jaat.
Though in the Johar Valley region there is no tradition of Nanda Raj Jaat but the worship, dance and the ritual of collecting Bramhakamal (it is called Kaul Kamphu) is part of Nanda festivals.
The Nanda Devi fair is held at Almora, Nainital, Kot (Dangoli), Ranikhet, Bhowali, Kichha and also in the far flung villages of lohar (like Milam and Martoli) and Pindar valleys (like Wachham and Khati). In the villages of the Pinder valley people celebrate the Nanda Devi Jaat (journey) every year, while in lohar people come from far and wide to Danadhar, Suring, Milam and Martoli in order to worship the Goddess. In Nainital and Almora thousands take part in the procession carrying the dola (or litter) of Nanda Devi. It is said that the Nanda Devi fairs started in Kumaon during the reign of Kalyan Chand in the 16th Century. A three day fair is held at Kot ki mai or Kot bhramari devi. The fair at Saneti comes every second year. Both these fairs are rich in folk expressions and many village products are brought for sale.
This Raj jat yatra originates from the kurur village 30 km from nandprayag,in ghat tahsil 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 and Rudraprayag.
How to Reach
- By Air: To attend Nanda Devi Raj Jat Yatra, one has to first reach Chamoli. The closest airport is Jolly Grant Airport, at a distance of 221 kilometer.
- By Rail: The closest railway station is located at Rishikesh.
- By Road: Chamoli is connected with Haridwar, Dehradun, Nainital, Rishikesh, and Almora.
- Where to Stay: The nearest place that offers good accommodation options is Chamoli.
- Nanda Rajjat(Kumaon) at Kumaon :Kala, Shilp Aur Sanskriti :: www.himvan.com
- Kumaon Nanda Rajjat Samiti :: Official Webpage
3.Nandadevi Raj Jat, Nanadadevi Sandarbh Patrika,1988 Pub: Nanda Devi Mandir Evam Mela Samiti, Almora Article by: Kaushal Kishore Saxena
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