In a collaborative effort, the Department of Excise, Jammu and Kashmir, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University, Patnitop Development Authority, Directorate of Tourism, Jammu, and District Administration, Udhampur came together to organize the Patnitop to Gaurikund Eco Trail today.The trail traces an ancient pilgrimage route leading to Sudh Mahadev-Mantalai, prominent Shaivite centers, and is steeped in natural wonders including dense forests, rolling fields, vegetable gardens, and fruit orchids.
The trek started from the Nag temple, notable for its construction using stones, a deviation from the prevalent use of Deodar wood in the region. It concluded at the sacred Gauri Kund Temple, dedicated to Bhagwan Shiv and Mata Parvati. Legend has it that Mata Parvati would daily bathe in its natural spring. Here, the participants accompanied by the officials and staff from PDA and Wildlife Department, relished traditional cuisines offered in year-long bhandara by the temple.
The students and faculty of SMVDU, hailing from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Delhi, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Gujarat, Chattisgarh, Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana and even Nepal, were enthralled by the picturesque vistas and the mystical aura that enveloped them throughout the trek. They thanked the authorities for making them part of this endeavour. After the trek, they also paid obeisance at the revered Sudh Mahadev temple. Nagendra Singh Jamwal, Registrar of SMVDU, expressed, "SMVDU, in partnership with PDA, will continue organizing treks to internationally renowned trails within PDA's jurisdiction.
The university places great importance on the holistic development of its students, and we believe that these treks will inspire students to embrace a healthy lifestyle while steering clear of the pitfalls of substance abuse."It was held under the event series, 'Visit Patnitop,' which was initiated by Patnitop Development Authority in September 2022 to showcase the all-encompassing beauty and the tourism potential of the Patnitop Tourism Circuit.
Beyond adventure and spirituality, the event emphasized cleanliness, environmental consciousness, and preservation of the natural beauty that attracts travelers from far and wide. By collecting waste all along the trail, participants did their part to contribute to the ongoing nationwide Swachhata Hi Seva Campaign, an initiative aimed at building a Swachh Bharat in line with Mahatma Gandhi's vision. This endeavor also complemented PDA's ongoing initiatives, including 'Clean Patnitop Green Patnitop', 'Carry The Trash Back', and 'Clean Mountains Save Future'.