The Himalayan pilgrimages are the oldest organized travel system, evolved over time by Hindu sages and embodying the spirit of wander, adventure and spirituality”. One of the holy trinity, Maa Chandi is a living goddess. Vedic myths, spiritual and even astronomy testify to his existence from the dawn of time. Recently village Machail in Paddar has turned out to be important place of religious importance and sanctity because of the temple of ‘Chandi Mata’. On the day of first Bhadon or Bhadoon Sankranti (15th or 16th August) every year, when the doors of temples in Paddar are thrown open, a big mela is held outside Chandi Mata temple at Machail where people from all over Paddar assemble and offer prayers to the deity and invoke her blessings.
A mace or Holi Chhari of Goddess Chandi Mata is taken out by the devotees from village Chinote Bhaderwah, the home village of Thakur Kulbir Singh. Under his auspicious control a procession is taken to Machail with people singing bhajans in praise of the goddess amidst beating of drums, playing upon flutes and chanting of mantras. Now days the yatra is also taken out from Jammu. This yatra has played the greatest role in highlighting the peculiarities of Paddar and influencing among people the spirit of adventure. This procession starts from Bhaderwah than reaches Pul Doda on mid-day after that yatra moves towards Kishtwar crossing Thatari, Drabshalla, Kandni, Hasti than reaches Kishtwar near about 4pm. On next day, Yatra moves from Kishtwar towards Atholi Paddar.
The Machail Yatra pilgrimage to the high altitude Himalayan shrine of Mata Chandi, one of the manifestations of Goddess Durga is continuously becoming popular day by day and is assuming the status of the second biggest pilgrimage in the Jammu Region, where more than 50 thousand pilgrim pored at Chandi Dham Machail at a time. The Chandi Mata basically has over the years manifested elsewhere mostly confined to Himalayan region. In Jammu itself she has her origin in the Mahalaxmi Mandir at Pacca Danga and thence at Bhadarwah where from her Chhari (Holy Mace) starts in the month of August every year. Situated around 306 kms away from Jammu by (Jammu-Batote) (120 Kms), Batote-Kishtwar (121 Kms), Kishtwar-Atholi – Gulbgarh-65 kms) by road and thence on foot to Machail Mata which is bearely 30 kms. Though the terrain is too tough to trek but with the grace of almighty Mata Chandi, one feels hillbilly joyous in association with enchanting pilgrims echoing Jai Mata Dip Jai Chandi Mata. The entire track is dotted all along with yatries of all hues with colourful attire. The main stop-overs en route are from Atholi Gulabgarh are Layondee, S Kunderpul, Chishoti, Hamooree and thence Machail Matas scared temple. The entire arees is land locked surrounded by lushgreen, vibrant and salubrious greenery of pine (Deodar, Kail, Fir, Spruce), oaks, shrubs and herbs. The river Chandra and Bhaga confluences at Atholi and while traversing this long stretch of 30 kms, you follow proud Bhaga sometimes accompanying you and some times going against your track with roaring echoes and foaming firry watery flames so gorgeously against perpendicular rocks. The Chhari starts from Bhadarwah town on 19th August on foot led by the Punjari of Bhadarsah temple accompanied by the delighted devotees.
How to Reach:
The nearest airport is at Jammu, 245 Kms. from Kishtwar.
The nearest rail head is at Udhampur (166 Kms), and another rail head is at Jammu Tawi (240 Kms)
Machail is one of the far flung area of Kishtwar which is not connected to motorable road. Regular buses ply between Kishtwar to Gulabgarh only, after that you have to trek in between beautiful valley of Paddar to reach the destination. Tourists can avail other services like Sumo, Taxi, Tavera, etc also.