Print Edition - 2014-12-07  |  News

Saligram shrine awaits repair

- AGANDHAR TIWARI, Parbat
Saligram shrine awaits repair

Dec 6, 2014-A Saligram (ammonite fossil) stone, which is believed to be the incarnation of Lord Vishnu, at Saligram VDC that borders with Parbat, Gulmi and Syangja districts has been losing its relevance following the Kaligandaki floods. The existence of the sacred rock was threatened after the floods swept away the pathway constructed around the big stone.

“More than two-thirds of the stone had been buried while constructing the pathway and following the floods no one visits the site,” said Hari Parajuli, a priest. The pathway was constructed at the cost of Rs 5 million with assistance from ‘Kaligandaki A’ Hydropower Project five years ago. Though around 500 devotees used to throng the site every day in the past, the number has decreased to almost zero over the years, Parajuli said.

“Visitors used to be perplexed to see the large rock but after the construction of the pathway and gabion walls, the stone was overshadowed,” said Ashok Singh Pandey, head teacher of a local school, adding that the number of visitors declined as there was nothing left to see.

With the decline in the number of tourists, the business of dozens of businessmen who put up shop selling essential materials for prayers and rituals has been threatened. “We used to earn about Rs 6,000-7,000 a day before the floods but it is hard to make even Rs 400-500 nowadays,” said Parbati Neupane, an entrepreneur. Though a walking trail made out of bamboo is setup in place of the flood ravaged pathway, visitors rarely take the risk to walk on the structure just above the huge Kaligandaki reservoir.

According to Prakash Bhattarai of Setibeni Bazaar, none of the districts have shown interests in conserving the site as it was located amidst the border of three districts. “We did get some help from Parbat but not even a word of assurance from Gulmi and Syangja,” he said.

Locals said they asked the hydropower project for assistance for repairs. Project chief Awadhesh Kumar Singh said they have allocated funds for the site and the repair would be completed soon if the locals took initiatives. Besides religious purposes, visitors reach the site to enjoy boat ride in the Kaligandaki reservoir.

Published: 07-12-2014 09:19

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