PHALEBASH (Parbat), Nov 6: The largest Shaligram Shila in the world – located at the borders of Parbat, Gulmi and Syangja – is facing an existential threat.
The intense flooding during this year's monsoon swept away a circumambulatory structure around the Shaligram. The structure built to facilitate the pilgrims and devotees for circumambulation of the holy site was destroyed during the flooding and subsequently exposed the Shila to the Kaligandaki river's erratic temperament.
Now the Shaligram Shila is getting battered by the Kaligandaki river's untamed currents. This has raised reasonable concerns among the locals of the possibility that the river may sweep away the Shaligram itself.
Thousands of Hindu pilgrims and devotees arrive at the site for circumambulation of the Shila, a rare fossilized shell taken as an incarnation of Hindu God Vishnu. It is believed that circling the Shila would fulfil one's wishes.
Devotees coming from Parbat, Syangja, Gulmi, Baglung, Palpa, Chitwan, Nawalparasi, Argakhanchi and other parts of the country have been complaining that the authorities concerned have not been properly conserving the Shaligram.
Anish Chaudhary, who is a tenth grader at Khaireni Secondary School of Nawalparasi, spoke of the need to immediately start conservation efforts to save Shaligram.
The structure built to facilitate circumambulation of the Shaligram at a cost of Rs 5 million with support of Kaligandaki 'A' Hydro Power Project collapsed during intense flooding on July 17.
As the structure has now collapsed, tourists fear visiting the site, Shila's Priest Bhagawan Hari Parajuli said. "Last year some parts of the structure had been damaged, but we resolved the short-term problem by fixing it with bamboo poles," he added. "But this year the high water level has submerged the Shila, and this has made it impossible to circle it. There are no additional security measures at the site, so visitors' lives are at risk," Parajuli confided.
He said the Kaligandaki 'A' Project has taken over the responsibility of the management and security of the Shila. The Project has already been informed of the dangers faced by the Shila, but they are yet to respond.
The locals complain that the Shila Conservation Committee has also not shown any zeal in conserving and repairing the structure surrounding the Shila. RSS