The vulture returns
Nesting sites found at Pandoh, Darlaghat, Pong Dam, Hamirpur
Kuldeep Chauhan

The Griffon Vulture

The Himalayan Griffon Vulture is a typical vulture with a bald white head, very broad wings, and a short tail. Otherwise a silent bird, it lets out a peculiar grunt and hiss while roosting and preying. These birds usually fly in flocks and are a fragile link in the delicate ecological chain.

Some good news on the environment front. Its most efficient scavengers — the Himalayan Griffon Vultures, its cousin, the raven, and Bearded Vultures – pushed to the brink of extinction have been spotted feeding on dead carcasses.

Vultures have been spotted near Pandoh, Koksar and Shilgrahan-Sadatch and Kandiali in Shimla district recently. Nesting sites have been found at Sadatch, Pandoh, Koksar, Darlaghat, Pong Dam and Hamirpur.

Himalayan vultures fly at heights of 1200 metres in the state to 14,000 feet in far-off Tibetan territory. Wildlife officials blame the disappearance of the silent birds on the use of diclofenac, a veterinary painkiller used on livestock. “Vultures die after eating carcasses carrying diclofenac,” say wildlife officials.

Before the animal husbandry department could detect the ill-effect of the painkiller, it was all over. The department banned use of diclofenac in domestic animals two years ago. Even now, the ban has been imposed in bits and pieces. The drug is till available in the market. Animal breeders continue to use it, as it is cheaper than others in its group.

Villagers in the region still use diclofenac. They also spray insecticides or poison on dead carcasses to kill stray dogs, leopards and foxes. The carcasses are dumped into nearby nullahs where they rot in the open. Scavengers drag them along sources of drinking water and several times water-borne diseases have been triggered off.

Little wonder then that ravens and bearded vultures, the first to spot a carcass, and Griffon Vultures are facing extinction. Now, carcasses either decompose with the passage of time or are eaten by stray dogs.

The Himachal government has no vulture recovery or breeding programme and is pinning hopes on Haryana’ vulture breeding programme. The Griffon Vulture lays just one egg and it takes over six-eight months for the chicks to be independent.

Himachal Chief Wildlife Warden Vinay Tandon says that the department has identified some key breeding sites of the Griffon Vulture. “We are in the process of tying up with the Haryana government. Vultures successfully bred at their centre will be released here. We are also spreading awareness about the importance of vultures among villagers,” he says.

Deputy director animal husbandry Dr K.K. Kapur says diclofenac has been banned for two years. “Diclofenac has been replaced with meloxycam, which does not harm vultures,” he says. So how has the grim scenario improved ever since the ban? “That is difficult to say. It needs to be researched,” he says.



 The killer stretch 
Potholes on the national highway linking Baddi and within the state’s  industrial hub have given many a commuter  back pain and spondylosis

Ambika Sharma

A view of NH-2
A view of NH-21.

The incessant downpour in the region since the past few days has reduced the roads of the industrial area into puddles of muddy water. The hundreds of industrialists and employees who commute daily between Chandigarh and Baddi are the worst sufferers.

A large number of daily commuters have been forced to sit at home with backache related problems occurring at regular intervals. Investors rue that it is really disappointing that the worst stretch is the one lying on the NH –21 between Lohgarh in Haryana to Baddi. Repair work was first delayed due to political reasons and now the one undertaken has been lacking quality worsening its condition.

“Instead of bumps on the roads it is the road on bumpy potholes,” says senior vice-president Vardhman Textiles Vijay Arora, adding that the pathetic and miserable condition of this road is not only because of rains but it is painfully bad in all seasons. 

The condition of these roads are resulting in long traffic jams, abnormally high commuting time, wasteful consumption of costly national resource—fuel, environmental hazards and severe health hazards related like back pains and spondylosis.

Though the Haryana Government has undertaken some repair work on the Pinjore-Baddi road but the poor quality work has worsened the situation, says the senior vice-president of the Baddi-Barotiwala-Nalagarh Industries Association (BBNIA), Mr Deepak Bhandari.

The association stresses that it was the high time that action was visible on the road rather than undertaking mere paper work.  Construction of roads should only be given to reputed contractors who are committed to use quality material and assured maintenance for subsequent years. This alone can ensure growth of the area.

The internal roads of the industrial area are equally worse with large puddles of water.

The representatives of all major Industrial associations like CII-HP State Council, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Federation of Himachal Industries, BBN Industries Association, Parwanoo Industries Association and others, after having knocked the doors of Ministry of Surface Transport, National Highway Authority of India (NHAI), Deputy Chief Minister Haryana, authorities of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh, are now a harassed lot.

Exasperated at the poor condition of roads, the Zila Parishad Chairman, Mr Ramkumar Chowdhary, said it was the apathy of the Bhupinder Singh Hooda-led Congress government in Haryana, which had reduced this crucial road to a bumpy track. To add to the problem, the contract to repair the crucial 7-km-stretch of this road given to a contractor who has done  sub-standard work.



 Back to the Raj
Bandstand at the Ridge will be back
Pratibha Chauhan

The traditional look of the British-era bandstand on the Ridge, now housing the Tourism Department-owned Ashiana’ Restaurant, will be restored back to the typical hill architecture style.

During the British Raj, the bandstand on the Ridge was often used as the band played to the public in the afternoons. The fine bandstand had been generously constructed by Kunwar Jewan Dass of Jubbulpore so that people could enjoy the band.

In fact, the Ridge being the only open space in the heart of the town was the venue for holding of parades in the honour of the King on his birthday every year on June 3. Under the Ridge were the main water reservoirs of the town, still functional while the open space was used for ceremonial functions. The final victory of the Allied Forces was celebrated by a large and enthusiastic gathering held on the Ridge on November 12, 1918, when Lord Chelmsford, read the King Emperor’s gracious message to the Indian forces.

Ashiana Restaurant, which is one of the prime properties of the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) because of its vantage location, will be given a facelift to make it more serviceable and practical. The old wooden pillars of the bandstand, which were covered with plywood, will be restored. The huge wooden pillars were covered and painted with different colours when the restaurant was made earlier.

Besides restoring the pillars, the iron-farmed windows too will be replaced with wooden structure and the dark tinted glasses will be replaced with see through translucent ones. The entire upholstery and furniture will be changed to give the restaurant a new but more traditional look. Interestingly, while the restaurant will regain its traditional look, in terms of the cuisine, the HPTDC proposes to have a complete make over as the concept of ‘food fusion’ will be introduced. This is basically a meal, which is a combination of different cuisines, making an interesting amalgamation.

After abandoning a proposal for constructing a revolving restaurant in place of Ashiana in view of the strict regulations of the Town and Country Planning Department, the department has decided to give a major facelift to the restaurant located at the most ideal location on the Ridge. As per the plans, the a separate conference room will be constructed in place of the fast food joint so that there is an exclusive place for holding such events without disturbing the restaurant.

“The food, basically a combination of different cuisines, will be pre-plated straight from the kitchen, so that instead of ordering a number of dishes a person can get to eat a variety of food in one order,” explained Mr Yogesh Behl, Deputy General Manager, Hotel Holiday Home.

He informed that the interior of the restaurant would also be given a completely new look. Besides the curtains and other upholstery more functional and differently styled furniture will be placed in the restaurant.

The HPTDC will be spending about Rs 10 lakh on giving the restaurant a completely new look while restoring its original architecture.



Turban to Himachali topee 
Shriniwas Joshi

An important source of tracing the history of a person or apparel in Himachal is Pahari paintings. When I thought of writing this article on cap and turban, I glanced through the Devi Mahatmya Series (1550-1580) of paintings. I did not find a person wearing a cap in those. Then I frisked through the paintings of Devidas of Nurpur (1680-1720), Lahru and Mahesh of Chamba (1735-1770), Seu, Manaku and Nainsukh of Guler (1680-1778) and came to the conclusion that the headgear of the commoners in Himachal used to be turban.

The princes and nobles also wore turbans most of the times. Sometimes they sported dandy caps too, but these were unlike today’s Himachali topee. Plebeians who did not wear the turban sported ascetic-like long hair. R. Drummond writes that before 1808 topeewala and puggrywala were used in India for the Europeans and the natives, respectively.

Pandurang Hari wrote in 1826, “It was now evident we should have to encounter the topeewalas.” And Govind Samanta said in 1874, “You will see that he will not be able to protect us. All topeewalas are brothers to each other. The magistrates and the judge will always decide in favour of their white brethren.”

The published photograph is of the year 1913 in which round brownish coloured topees are worn by a few who appear to be low paid employees while the other Indians are turbaned and the English are bare-headed because they used to wear sola or felt hats when outside their home or office.

This also affirms my observation that puggry used to be the popular headgear in the state. Advocate Amar Chand Sood, the only living centenarian of Shimla, still wears a turban. Other prominent Shimlaites who carried turbans were Mela Ram Sood, advocate Shanker Dayal, B. Lal of HMV, Pandit Gyan Chand, popularly known as Shahi Hakim, DAV headmaster Vaidya Hans Raj, Satya Prakash, Megh Raj, a teacher in Butler School, Kanwar Shanker Singh of Bharari and many more.

I, however, believe that when turban was in vogue, the princely state of Rampur Bushahr, with Kinnaur as its part, had a woollen cap as the headgear of the populace. The statement is based on an early twentieth century photograph of my Nanaji Tika Ram Joshi, a research scholar who had lived in Rampur and Sangla adopting the lifestyle of the locals. The cap he wore was like a beret but made of Kinnauri patti (hand woven woollen cloth). Sheep rearing, wool spinning and weaving were the vocations in this region. Availability of patti in every home plus the extreme cold weather required a warmer headgear and hence the topee.

The Himachali topee that was restricted to the erstwhile princely state gained popularity because Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh wears it. When the cap’s fold carries a pattern, generally seen in Kullu shawl, it is called Kullu cap and when the fold and the cap has a whitish brown patti with black piping, it is a Lahauli cap.

Refreshingly fresh designs catering to the tastes of modern customers are being introduced. Though women have started wearing the topee throughout the state and outside, in Kinnaur district the cap (thepang) and waistband (gachhang) are universally worn by men and women.

Few know that the topee style differs according to the gender of the person wearing it. A man wears a topee with the coloured fold starting from above his right eye and falling towards the left side of the face. It is the opposite for a woman — the coloured fold falls on the right side of her face starting from above her left eye.

In 2006, a trirangini topee was introduced in Kangra to give a jolt to the Himachali topee. It was introduced with great fanfare.


Whenever we wish someone good or bless someone in India, we use a Sanskrit shloka (couplet):“Yaavat Ganga, Kurukshetre; Yaavat tishthati Medini/ Yaavat Ramkathaloke; Taavat jivatah baalakah…” (So long there is Ganga and Kurukshetra, so long there is Earth/ so long Lord Ram’s story is heard in the universe, may you live that long…)

Nobel Laureate Rudyard Kipling, who started visiting Shimla every summer after 1885 and had lived at North Bank here at Kaithu, had coined his own wish:

So long as Tara Devi sees

The lights o’ Simla town,

So long as Pleasure calls us up,

Or duty drives us down,

If you love me as I love you

What pair so happy we two?



Holi Hai
The much-awaited Sujanpur Mela begins March 1
Vibhor Mohan

The stage is set for Sujanpur’s Holi Mela, a state-level event, which is as popular as Shivratri festival in Mandi, Chamba’s Minjar and Lave celebrations in Rampur. The four-day celebrations from March 1 to 4 will include pop concerts, wrestling contests, setting up of stalls and a star-studded play of colours on Holi day.

Celebration of Holi in Sujanpur dates back to the time of Maharaja Sansar Chand (1765-1823) the Katoch ruler, for whom Holi was the day when he would ignore all hierarchy and mingle with his masses to splash colours on them.

It is said that Holi used to be such a mega affair that the Maharaja would constitute a ‘Holi Parishad’, which included eminent scholars, to chalk out the programme and oversee the arrangements. The committee would even decide the colours to be used in the Holi festival.

The small water tank in the royal palace was filled with perfumed, coloured water and Maharaja Sansar Chand would kick off the celebrations by spattering it on his queens and relatives. Then he would give his courtiers the honours of applying ‘gulal’ on their King’s face.

It is believed that Sansar Chand used to take the form of Lord Krishna and his wife, Rani Suketki, would be Radha as they played Holi.

After this, he would set out on his royal elephant with his family, in the form of a mammoth procession, towards the ‘chougan’ (open ground) located in the heart of Sujanpur. On his way, men and women would stand on rooftops and pour colours on the royal family.

Residents of Sujanpur say Maharaja Sansar Chand would first pay obeisance at the Radha-Krishan temple and stories of Lord Krishna’s ‘raas leelas’ were sung aloud by the artistes and masses. Some say that the Maharaja was so impressed by the Holi celebrations in Brij that he decided to replicate the model in Sujanpur as well.

The Radha-Krishan temple, believed to have been built in 1790, also has a story behind its setting up. Locals say that once Sansar Chand’s mother expressed the desire to see one lakh silver coins and the wish was fulfilled at once. She donated the whole amount for the construction of the temple. That is why the ‘Murli Manohar Mandir’ is also known as ‘Lakhe da mandar’.

Considering the widespread popularity of the Holi festival in Sujanpur, it was given the status of a district-level event in 1975 and later upgraded to a state-level festival in 1984 by the Himachal Pradesh Government.

The ‘Sankat Mochan Dwar’, is another attraction for tourists coming to Sujanpur. It used to be the entrance to the town when people used to walk on foot. More than a hundred steps leads one from the main road to the dwar, from where one takes a shortcut to Sujanpur. A temple is situated right next to the dwar and pedestrians still prefer to take this route. 



 A job well done
Kuldeep Chauhan

LR Sharma
LR Sharma

Initiative is rare in mundane government offices, but not for the likes of LR Sharma, a mechanical engineer, who in his own way, has proved the cynics wrong. His zeal to do something new and excel in his field has made him a role model for others.

He not only turned the maintenance workshop of the Irrigation Public Health Department in Mandi into a centre of innovation but also helped the government save Rs 1.5 crore every year during his 11 years of service. His hard work brought Bharat Ratna his way, given to him by Dr Bhishma Narain Singh, the former Tamil Nadu Governor, who presented the award to Sharma at a seminar on Economic Growth and National Integration on December 7 last year in New Delhi. India international Friendship Society, a Delhi-based institution, has also honoured Sharma with the Bharat Jyoti Award.

Catering to five IPH divisions in Mandi district the Baggi-based IPH workshop not only repairs machineries, automobiles and dozers, but it also produces hand pump parts, bushes, shafts, bearings, motor winding, diesel generator sets and other works, which otherwise would have cost crores of rupees every year if procured from outside as is the case with the other workshops in the state. Idols of Natraj, were also built at the workshop, which is now rated as an excellent piece of metallurgy.

Sharma, who retired as an executive engineer from the IPH department last year says, “We used copper scrape, mixed tin with copper and manufactured gun metal, bronze and used them in the underground water machineries and motor winding. We built bushes that costs Rs 1000 a piece and if you buy it from the market it costs Rs 20,000 a piece”.

Sharma during his four year posting with the tube wells division in Gegrate in Una says his team picked up two Japanese rigs and bored 52 tube wells, averaging 12-14 tube wells every year in contrast to the government target of only one tube well in six months time.

The tube wells transformed the land of Sarkande weeds, the name with which Una was known before it merged with Himachal Pradesh, into a fertile land. The 52 tube wells benefit over 37 villages with the farmers getting assured irrigation facilities in the Gegrate area.



 Clean up, says Prez
Kuldeep Chauhan

Giving his mission cleanliness mantra, the President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam during his interaction with Republic Day NSS contingent at the Rashtrapati Niwas after the Republic Day parade, asked the NSS volunteers across the country to make their homes, neighbourhoods, streets, villages and schools and college campuses clean as a service to the nation.

Mohinder Singh, a 12th standard student who bagged the Best Volunteer award at the 2007 Republic Day Parade in New Delhi says, “The President Dr APJ Abdul Kalam and Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh inspired us to do something worthwhile for the country.” I want to join either army or police service to serve my state and the country. I will work to keep the home, schools and villages clean”.

Mohinder Singh was part of the four-member NSS contingent, which represented the state at the Republic Day Parade, along with Neha Chauhan and Arti Vatsal and Govindpreet Kaur.

Arti Vatsal, BA- I student from Mandi says, “A feeling of patriotic fervour swept us when we were marching on the historic Jan Path during the R D Parade. I want be an IAS officer to serve the country. We will act on the advice of the President and involve others also in our mission.”



 Shah Canal: Punjab defaults
Kulwinder Sandhu

Delay by Punjab in paying its share of Rs 134.14 crore of the total amount of Rs 196. 05 crore for the completion of construction work of Shah Canal has resulted in the project hanging fire. The Shah canal will take water from Punjab territory to irrigate certain parts of the hill state adjacent to the boundary of Punjab.

The estimated cost of the project is Rs 317.52 crore and so far, Punjab had only paid Rs 61.91 crore to the hill state. As per the agreement, Punjab was supposed to spend 61.74 per cent of the total cost while the financial burden on the hill state was 38.26 per cent of the total cost.

When Punjab built the Shah canal barrage near Mukerian, the system carrying water to Himachal Pradesh was disrupted near Talwara. Punjab then reached an agreement to compensate for the damage.

Under the agreement, Punjab constructed the Shah canal to carry water to Himachal Pradesh and the Union Government also contributed funds in this project. A senior official associated with the project said that construction work on 27.35 km length had been completed. Work on 12.5 km stretch had been completed on the left bank and 14.81 km on the right bank, last month. The total length of the canal is 78.85 km. Work had also been completed on 41 tube wells.

As many as 23 cross drainages had already been constructed while work on 15 cross drainages was still going on. The construction work on this canal began in the year 1997.

When the Amarinder Singh government in Punjab annulled all water agreements, doubts were raised that Punjab may backtrack from providing the remaining funds. Even as Punjab gave assurances that the scrapping of water agreements would not affect the construction work of the Shah canal. On the other hand, senior officials of the irrigation department of Punjab maintain that nearly all work on the canal had been completed in their territory.



 Shimla Diary
Hunting for talent
Rakesh Lohumi

Shreya Ghoshal
Shreya Ghoshal

Organising talent hunt shows has become a part of the marketing strategy with private companies. These shows, which attract young boys and girls, are no longer confined to big cities and companies but moving to towns to explore the smaller markets, thanks to the cut-throat competition. The ‘Queen of Hills’ also witnessed the grand finale of one such show Himachal Ki Awaj organised by Airtel, a leading mobile phone service provider, which attracted more than 300 contestants.

A local artist Usha Kaushal adjudged as the winner by a panel of judges which included noted Bollywood playback singer, Shreya Ghoshal, Himachali folk singer Karnail Rana, music director Jyoti Bisht and Managing Director of TM music Company.

Shreya Ghoshal had a word of advice for budding singers keen to carve out a niche in the highly competitive music industry. Talent hunt shows provide a forum to the new singers to prove their mettle. Success in such shows brings instant fame and a host of opportunities to launch a career. However, the fame and success could be short-lived without a proper grounding in classical music. Thus, all those who want to play a long innings as a singer must continuously train in classical music to have sound foundation.

Double-decker bus stand

The first bus stand to be built in private sector on BOT (build operate and transfer) basis will become operational within a year in the state capital. Under the Rs 20 crore project being implemented by Khan Construction Company two blocks, a bus stand and a parking will be built. It will be first double story bus station where buses will arrive at the ground floor and depart from the first floor. The state road transport corporation has contributed an equity of Rs 6 crore for the project which will be transferred to it after a period of 17 years.



 RM suspended in HRTC scam
Kulwinder Sandhu

Mahinder Singh Rana, Regional Manager of the HRTC, has been suspended for allegedly siphoning off more than Rs 20 lakh from the account of the Himachal Road Transport Corporation, (HRTC). The scam came to light recently.

Talking to The Tribune, Hitendra Kumar Gupta, Divisional Manager of the HRTC, says this was the first case of embezzlement. Rana had fraudulently taken away a sum of Rs three lakh in the name of a contractor. The money was allegedly collected in the form of parking fee from private buses at the Kangra bus stand, he added. “He deposited the missing Rs 3 lakh in the HRTC account a day after it was found missing from the HRTC accounts on December 19 last year,” said Gupta.

The amount was found to have sneaked out of the HRTC accounts between October and December, last year. Gupta also informed that the investigations were on to ascertain if more money was illegally siphoned off. A special team from Shimla, assisted by the local auditors, was conducting the audit investigations, added Gupta.

Another fraud of more than 10 lakh rupees, allegedly by the suspended official, had also been detected and investigations in this case were in progress says Gupta. Gupta also informed that the accused had allegedly given HRTC buses for conducting special tours to educational institutions and also other individuals during the past few years but never deposited the fee amount taken from them in the accounts of the HRTC.

Since, he was posted here for the past over four years, the official records and entry books of all these years were now being scrutinised to know the exact embezzlement, said Gupta. 



 Harsh Mahajan is ‘Himachal Kesri’

The Himachal Chief Minister, Mr Virbhadra Singh, last week conferred the Himachal Kesri Award 2007 on the Cabinet Minister for Housing, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries, Mr Harsh Mahajan, for exemplary and meritorious performance in the field of politics.

Mr Mahajan with his positive and pragmatic approach has proved himself to be a high-profile politician who brought radical reforms and achieved landmark developments.

Consistently heading towards the zenith of his career, his aim is to uplift of citizens without discrimination.

Known for his generosity, commitment and far-sightedness, the gifted leader is undoubtedly leaving a remarkable impact on the masses. —TNS



 Towards a safer future
The state now has an authority to ensure, monitor norms in hydropower projects
Rakesh Lohumi

The move to set up an authority to ensure the safety of dams constructed in hydroelectric projects and regulate the water flow has not come a day too soon.

With a large number of hydroelectric projects coming up on major rivers regulating the water flow from the reservoirs created due to the construction of storage and diversion dams has become a matter of concern. The issue came into focus after the sudden release of water from the Baspa project in Kinnaur caused damage to private and government property in villages located down stream. Unregulated flows could play havoc with projects located down stream.

The five river basins in the state together have 20,386 MW of hydropower potential out of which so far 6045 MW has been harnessed. Projects with aggregate capacity of 2720 MW are under implementation and detailed project reports have been prepared for another 3011 MW and they were ready for execution. The maximum number of projects is being constructed in Sutlej basin, which alone accounts for 9,000 MW of potential. While some major projects the 1500 MW Nathpa Jhakri, coutnry’s largest hydroelectric venture, 300 MW Baspa and 120 MW Sanjay Vidyut Yojna have already been commissioned, 1000 MW Karcham Wnagtu, 412 Rampur, 1020 MW Khab, 800 MW Kol Dam and 700 MW Luri are under implementation.

With so many projects over a small 200 km stretch, the river tandem operations are necessary as all projects will be utilising the same discharge. Further, tackling problems like silt also require coordinated efforts. Hence, the need for a regulatory authority. The proposed Authority of Hydro-Project Safety, Quality Control and Management of Water Flows and Discharge will prepare the necessary regulations and guidelines along with a safety management manual on the lines of the International Commissions of Large Dams. All hydropower developers will be required to follow the regulations.

The authority will conduct constant surveillance in respect of safety norms right from the inception of the project. It will monitor the quality of construction and design of each project and recommend use of appropriate technologies like tunnel boring machines. It will carry out periodic safety and management system audit ensure that the projects adopted maintained emergency preparedness.

It will also monitor release of water downstream the diversion structures to ensure that the mandatory 15 per cent of the discharge is maintained at all times to help sustain aquatic life and protect the rights of the local people. The main objective of the authority will be to create a regulatory environment and make the dam owners accountable. It will also be empowered to resolve inter-projects disputes in the river basin.

The authority will have punitive powers and it could impose penalties for violations of regulations and rules prescribed by the government.

The power developers will also be required to prepare disaster management plans to take care of eventualities like floods, earthquakes, cloudburst and other natural calamities for various stages of constructions and operation of the projects.

In case any existing facilities, like irrigation system, water supply schemes, roads, bridges, buildings, communication network, water mills and other such amenities are affected due to the implementation of the project, the developer will be responsible for taking requisite remedial measures. 



 Divine get-together
Kuldeep Chauhan

Amid peppy tunes and drum beats, over 185 devtas out of 215, invited for the International Shivratri Mela-fair-festival from all over the district, have gathered in the temple town of Mandi to celebrate diving get together that will conclude here on February 23.

The colorful Jaleb, the procession of Raj Madhav led by chief deity Dev Kamrunag, has begun here with traditional gaiety and thunder. The fair was inaugurated by the Mandi Lok Sabha MP, Ms Pratibha Singh, who led the procession of citizens during the shobha yatra of devtas from Raj Madhav Temple to Paddal Maidan.

The shobha yatra from Raj Madava Temple, believed to have represented Lord Krishna and Bhootnath Temple, believed to have represented Lord Shiva, commemorate the confluence of the Lord Shiva and Lord Krishna- a tradition that has been celebrated as the Shivratri fair in this temple town since 16th century.

Dev Kamrunag, the presiding devta, who is traditionally the first devta

to arrive in the temple town, was received by the president of Shivratri Mela

Committee (SMC) and the DC Mandi, Mr Subhasish Panda, at the temple.

After the Dev Kamrunag, the second to arrive here today at the temple was Dev Bura Bingal, who is worshiped as the prime minister of the divine territory and who comes from the Ronj village in the district. The Devta met Dev Kamrunag before it paid its obeisance to Raj Madhav.

Ms Pratibha Singh urged the people to protect and promote the culture of devtas and devis and said the state government had set up a Rs 12.5 crore- temple trust to achieve that aim.

The SMC president Mr Panda said the pristine glory of the mela has been restored over the years and devtas are the centre of the mela. The Raj Madhav palanquin and two horses accompany the Jaleb. There is a larger participation of devtas from each section and corner of the district. The ‘nazrana’ for the devtas has been increased last year and traveling allowance has been increased 10 per cent this year.

Over 445 school children from 23 schools from the district presented an evocating Shiv suti, recreating the Shivratri lore at Paddal Maidan. They then presented rich dances of the state.

Playback singer Abhijit dished out his popular numbers on Saturday Night. He praised Virbhadra Singh for his hard work. The troupe from Orissa presented some acrobatics dance that won audience applause.

The night was dominated by the popular Pahari pop-folk singers—Kuldip Sharma, Sharda, Kashyap.





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