Kedarnath priests protest against building of ghat
The Kedarnath shrine has never had any ghat – even though most Hindu religious towns especially those located near rivers have had a tradition of building such spots where people can offer special prayers for the souls of their near and dear ones. As one goes around the temple town, hectic reconstruction activity is visible all around – an estimated 2,000 workers are working frantically against deadlines to complete the redevelopment work in areas which were ravaged by the June 2013 flash floods. According to Col Ajay Kothiyal, director of Nehru Institute of Mountaineering, the ghat, which is being built 100 meters ahead of the main shrine at the confluence of the two holy rivers, would be ready for use by October. “All the modalities like design, material to be used, and facilities to be offered have been worked out,” he said.
The construction of a bathing ghat at the confluence of the Mandakini and Saraswati rivers close to the Kedarnath shrine, has not gone down too well with a number of local priests in the area. Admittedly, the priests are not against the construction of the ghat, which when built would be the first such ghat to be constructed at such a high altitude. Rather, their opposition is to the ghat’s location, which they claim is flawed as “it does not follow the correct vastu norms.”
Officials of the Uttarkashi-based Nehru Institute of Mountaineering (NIM) which is involved in the redevelopment and restoration of Kedarnath, have held a series of meetings with the priests in this regard.Despite the NIM’s persuasion, a few local priests, though, still seem apprehensive about the direction of the ghat. “It is being built in the south-west direction which is not good as per vastu shashtra. We have explained our reservations to the NIM team which is working on the plan,” said a priest on condition of anonymity.