JAMMU AND KASHMIR
Jammu, April 17: Machel Mata is a Goddess Durga shrine popularly known as Machail Mata being located in the village Machel, from where it derives its name, in Kishtwar District of Jammu region in India.
It may be noted that Goddess Durga is also known by the name Kaali or Chandi. The temple history is entwined with the conquests of Zorawar Singh Kahluria, who in 1834 sought blessings of Machel mata, before crossing the mountains and Suru River, (Indus), with 5000 men for vanquishing an army of local Botis of Ladakh.
He became a faithful devotee after the successful mission. Machel mata Sthan as the shrine is popularly known, has a landscape of unblemished beauty with hills, glaciers and tributaries of the Chenab River (Chadrabhaga). Paddar valley, nearby is famous for its world famous sapphire mines, and is a cool place for hiking, cannoning and holy hot springs.
The place is home to the Thakur community who are serpent worshipers, and was merged with Kishtwar tehsil, by Maharaja Ranbir Singh.
Thousands of people visit the shrine every year mainly from Jammu region.The pilgrimage happens in the month of August only every year.
The Gulabgarh is the base camp. From Gulabgarh, the foot journey starts, that is 32 km. Usually people take 2 days to reach the shrine by foot. On the way there are many villages, where one can stay in the night.