Nanda Raj Jat 2014 was by and large a well-organized religious adventure. However, three major issues could have been avoided: incomplete information and misinformation, two miry trails, and common exit and in points.
Misinformation Marred 17th Evening of Nanda Raj Jat
Misinformation about camping in Chandniyaghat was an avoidable mistake. According to the official Nanda Raj Jat brochure, Chandniyaghat was a night halt on the 17th day of the pilgrimage. However, the camping site accommodated only the officials. There was hardly any camping space for the public. Therefore, pilgrims had to trek about five kilometers extra to reach Lata Khopadi, the designated camping site for the day. The pilgrims trekked about 21 kilometers from Shila Samudra (3,645 meters) to Homkund (5,200 meters) to Chandniyaghat (3,635 meters) to Lata Khopadi on the day. Ironically, Lata Khopadi, also a small camping site, was not mentioned anywhere in the brochure.
Miry Chandniyaghat – Lata Khopadi – Sutol Trail
A big section of the trail linking Chandniyaghat and Lata Khopadi was buried under mire. The mire covered stones were extremely slippery, knocking several pilgrims off balance. And many of them fell while negotiating these unexpected obstacles that reduced the walking speed tremendously. Moreover, darkness compounded difficulties for the pilgrims who reached Chandniyaghat in late evening and negotiated the miry trail after sunset. A large part of the trail connecting Lata Khopadi and Sutol was also miry on the 17th day.
Incomplete Information about Homkund
The official brochure did not mention two different puja venues for the 17th day: Chota and Bada (main) Homkund. The venue for the main puja and the ram’s farewell was Chota Homkund. Bada Homkund, where puja was also performed in the temple, was a three to four kilometers’ climb from Chota Homkund. Extra time was therefore required (1) to trek to main Homkund to attend puja and (2) to return to Chota before the main ceremonies began.
Common Exit and In Points for Temple Complexes
Another annoyance was lack of separate in and exit points at most of the temple complexes. But at one of such complexes in Nandkesari, through the public address system, the administration was requesting pilgrims to use dedicated in and exit points but pilgrims turned a deaf ear to the request. Therefore it was chaos in the complex during night.