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Ayodhya Nath Kerni , Mela at Shrine Sudhmahadev "Daily Excelsior" 4/6/2017

Sudhmahadev has remained a famous Shiva Shrine through the ages. A mela commences for three days on the occasion of full moon day of solar month Jyeshtha. The prevailing legend reveals that Goddess Parvati used to carry sacred water from Gauri Kund and offered that on the self manifested Shiva Lingam under a tree, at the present temple location.

A ferocious demon Sudhanta who lived nearby a Nara (water fall) also brought water from the Nara to offer to Shiva Lingam. There was a dense forest around the present temple Complex those days. Sudhanta saw Mata Parvati offering water to Shiva Lingam. Sudhanta came near Mata Parvati in demonic appearance and with immoral intentions. Mata Parvati finding her alone in the forest shrieked for the help. Lord Shiva wokeup from the meditations and reached for the help of Goddess Parvati. Lord Shiva hurled his trident on Sudhanta fatally. It is believed that head of the demon got severed and body fell in a nullah located at a distance from Sudhmahadev. The nullah was named as “Dhar Khudd” since those times because of falling of body of demon in that nullah. Lord Shiva asked him whether he wished to survive again but demon refused. Sudhanta told Lord Shiva that he is lucky enough to receive salvation at the hands of Lord Shiva Himself. As far as any boon is concerned his name may be prefixed with Lord Shiva so that future generations may also know about him. He further added that despite being a devotee of Lord Shiva he could not renounce demonic nature. The place was being called as Sudhanta Mahadev which later became as Sudhmahadev.

It is believed that the temple existed even prior to 4th century AD. The trishul offered to Lord Shiva stands testimony for the same. The inscription found on the broken part of trident reveals the names of two Naga kings who had offered the trident to Lord Shiva most probably prior to the aggression by Samudra Gupta. The names of Naga kings are Bhivu Nag and Ganpati Nag. The trident is in broken parts. The three pointed fork seem to have been separated from the trident. The reasons for the same are not known. Chenani king Ram Chand I, who is understood to have ruled Chenani principality between 1580 to 1610 AD, had built the temple. It is believed that prior to that, the temple was in bad condition and trident was also found broken. The king was also having a sword made out of the metal of trident. The sword could foretell the victory or defeat in the battle. This sword remained with Chenani kings till the times of king Shamsher Chand.

It is also held that Chenani kings handed over the complex to the peers of Nath cult completely and never interfered in the administration of the Shiva shrine. The first peer was Baba Roop Nath who started burning a pit (Dhooni) in the temple complex. This pit never fills with ashes nor the ashes are removed from the pit despite burning of wood round the clock. The dhuni remains lit and never extinguishes right from the time of its initiation. In case it extinguishes some bad omen or evil is predicted. Baba Roop Nath took live Samadhi while in the service of temple. His successor Baba Bhup Nath also took the live Samadhi. There exist other samadhis of subsequent peers in the temple complex. They are – Baba Mangal Dass, Manbass Dass, Bhandar Nath, Champa Nath, Vaikunth Nath, Balak Nath, Shiv Nath, Nurat Nath, Mishri Nath, Gopal Nath and Dhuni Nath.

The temple was taken over by Dharamarth Trust during 1982 after the death of last Peer Dhuni Nath. Since then there has been lot of progress in the maintenance of temple complex. The construction of additional rooms and hall etc was carried out for the convenience of visitors.

The legend about the idols of Lord Shiva and Mata Parvati installed in the temple reveals that once a farmer was ploughing land little away from the temple complex. The blade of plough touched some solid substance and bleeding started from that point. The farmer assumed at the first instance that his oxen might have received any cut or injury but on inspecting he found there was nothing wrong. The other farmers also gathered in the field and discovered idols of Lord Shiva and Mata Parvati. The idols were washed with water at a nearby water point. The bleeding stopped and idols were installed in the temple near the self manifested Shiva Lingum. During the year 1769 AD the silver plate below the idols and Jalhari have been installed by the peer of the temple. Guru Gorakh Nath temple adjacent to main Shiva temple is also believed to have been constructed during the same period

I just recollect my first visit on the occasion of annual mela to Sudhmahadev during 1958 when I was a student. I accompanied a group of relatives and started our journey from my native village Dharamthal in the evening. After covering a distance of five kms we reached Chenani. Onward journey was under taken during night on foot because there was no road link to Sudhmahadev during that time. The bridle track from Chenani passes through Mandir Dushalla, Venisangh. Hardwar and then Sudhmahadev. Journey commenced in a moon light and there were many groups of people moving during whole night. Singing of Dogri bhajans, bhakh, geetru, playing of flutes and beating of drums made the journey much melodious. The people were dressed in Dogra attire i.e assorted colour turbans, churidar pajamas. There were about fifty vendors displaying their articles at the mela site. The heavy crowd was seen next dawn at the Nara site enjoying holy bath. Visitors also received bath at Papnashani bauli, they visited Gauri kund and Mantalai as well.

Presently, the scenario has changed. There are now 500 vendors participating in the mela. Large number of buses ply from Jammu and Udhampur to Sudhmahadev on mela. Many State Government departments conduct educatonal programmes for the masses by arranging stalls in JKTDC Dak Bungalow ground. The Agriculture Departments briefs about the seeds and manures. The result of the same is visible in the whole area around Sudhmahadv as it has become a good source of vegetables where as earlier it was not. The Horticulture department briefs about the plantation of fruit trees suitable according to the climate of the area. Similarly Handicraft, Fisheries, Medical and Forest Department also display the stalls. The tourists carry out handful shopping during mela.

Mela concludes on third day by arranging a wrestling match, a popular game of Duggar wherein lot of wrestlers participate. It is understood that around fifty thousand or more visitors participate in the Mela. Despite congested space the people mount on the roofs of the residential houses to enjoy the glimpses of mela through out the whole night. Jangams are also seen singing bhajans in the temple complex. Keeping in view the large gathering security arrangements are tightened by the administration to ensure the safety of the visitors

A considerable increase in the number of visitors has been noticed on the occasion of annual fair. The fair is celebrated with religious fervor and gaiety but due to congested space of venue lot of inconvenience is faced. In order to resolve this problem locals are of the view that land adjacent to temple complex presently being used for agriculture purp0ose may be got developed by Dharmarth Trust. The land belongs to Shiva and Mahamaya temples, hence, no other procurement problems are involved.Annual mela could be organized in a better way in case this land is got developed. Besides, a good landscape of this would generate more revenue from vendors and stall holders if provided to them during fair. During the rest of year same could be utilized for other social activities and as a play ground by school students. During three days fair devotees also visit Gaurikund by recently constructed link road which also needs electrification. Dharmarth Trust may provide or approach concerned authorities as may be the case.h

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