- 9 Sep, 2023
- By chand.v
Walking for 12-13 Kms. can be arduous and tiring for those not used to it. Still many pilgrims prefer to walk all the way. It helps in cleansing their minds before they reach the Holy Shrine. The tiredness and exhaustion of the trek serve as penances and their minds become still, meditative, full of devotion and gratitude for the Mother. The serenity of the environment also influences the devotees and a mystical calm starts enveloping them.
Yet there are many pilgrims who are overweight or otherwise not fit to walk for long. Many devotees have breathing problems or some other ailments or are old or physically challenged. All or some of them may need the services of ponies and palanquins.
Interestingly, many pilgrims tend to walk all the way to the Holy Shrine out of faith and devotion and after the Darshans feel so tired that they have to hire horses for the return journey. While nothing is wrong with it, a downhill trip on a pony may sometimes be more tiring and exhausting for the whole body as compared to the uphill travel. This needs to be kept in mind before deciding on a course of action.
In addition to ponies, porters (popularly called Pithus) may also be required for carrying luggage or for carrying young children who are afraid to or are too young to ride a horse. Other than carrying luggage, Pithus can also carry small children (who are afraid or cannot manage to ride a horse) or light weighted old people.
The Pony, Porter and Palanquin services are managed by the local/under a municipal committee organizing the local municipal affairs. All these porters, pony owners and palanquin (palki) owners are registered with municipal committee and carry an identity card/token number. Their cards/permits are renewed every year and new cards carrying a fresh validity date are issued. Any card that is outside the scope of this validity date is naturally invalid and hence disqualifies its owners from offering services on the track. Many unregistered Pithus tend to show their old and invalid cards to get work. Yatries are advised to carefully scan the identity card/token of the porter/pony owner and satisfy themselves about its validity. It is also advisable to retain this identity card and handover the same only after satisfactorily reaching the destination.
The rates of all these services are fixed. Information about these rates is available on various sign boards and at the Assistance Centers at Katra, Banganga and other places. The currently prevailing rates must be verified from the Assistance Counters or the sign boards.
One must avoid paying anything over and above the fixed rates. One can always offer them food, refreshment etc. if one wishes to, but it is out of choice and is not mandatory. For any difficulty or information, one may contact the municipal committee counters or the Shrine Board Offices.
It may also be noted that palanquins (palkies), porters or ponies are far easier to hire at the beginning of the journey than in the middle.