The Forces Of Mystery
Tucked away in a remote corner of the state, lies a pilgrim spot relatively unknown as compared to other sacred places of India. However, Parashuram Kund has been a source of spiritual inspiration to lakhs of devotees since time immemorial.
Situated on the banks of the mighty Lohit River, where it enters the plains on the Arunachal - Assam border. Parashuram (also spelt as Parashurama) Kund is magically transformed from a sleepy old place to an amazing congregation of seething humanity on Makar Sankranti Day, which normally falls in mid-January.
Legend has it that when Parashuram killed his mother with an axe at the behest of his father, the axe got stuck to his hands. He roamed all over India visiting holy places to atone for his sins, but the axe remained stuck to his hands. Ultimately, he came to a Kund known as Brahma Kund, now in Lohit district, on the advice of some sages.
He took a dip in the holy water of the Kund and the axe immediately became unstuck and fell from his hands. With a big sigh of relief and venting anger on the axe, he picked it up and threw it as far as he could into the mountains. The axe split the mountains, and the spot where it fell became the source of Lohit River. It was thus that this Kund came to be known as Prashuram Kund and now it is one of the many revered holy spots in the country.
Time Of Festivity
Every year, by the end of December, frenzied activity is witnessed in this sleepy desolate place. The local administration starts gearing up to construct shelters for the thousands of pilgrims who will be streaming into this area around mid January. Along with the shelters, public facilities like toilets, ration shops, medical centres and arrangements for drinking water also come up in record time. Elaborate law and order arrangement is also made. The age-old inner line regulation introduced by the British in 1826 requires pilgrims to obtain permits before crossing the Arunachal-Assam border.
The Festive Galore
It's a once-in-a-life-time opportunity to participate in the festivities at this sacred place on the Makar Sankranti Day. Hundreds of makeshifts shacks dot the landscape, erected by those who could not get accommodation in the government shelters. Adjacent to the shacks, countless little colourful shops contributed to the mela atmosphere. One could see a wide variety of articles being sold ranging from gaudy trinkets, baubles, clothes, and toys to exotic herbal medicines including the famous Lizard oil, considered an aphrodisiac.
Face Of Religious India
Taking a stroll around the place, one could see people from all walks of life. They had come from Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and even Nepal. A few had come all the way from Andhra Pradesh. They had managed to reach this place in the middle of nowhere by various modes of travel, braving the discomfort and hardship. Some are rich, many are poor, some are young, others very old and had to be assisted by their younger relatives. Sadhus belonging to various sects swarm the place busy luring unsuspecting devotees into their respective 'spiritual' folds. The whole scene is indeed remarkable!
Night Time Attractions
At night, gazing down a little hillock, the view can take ones breath away - thousands of oil lamps were flickering in the soft cool breeze; thin wisps of smoke that rose from numerous kitchen fires and bonfires lit by the pilgrims to keep themselves warm, formed a ghostly shroud above the township. The entire place becomes alive; strains of music, and devotional songs wafted in with the breeze. All this activity continues late into the night, and the auspicious ceremony of Makar Sankranti begins at midnight. The devotees then start to head for the Kund.
Trail Towards The Kund
To approach the Kund, one has to climb a steep hill about 300-400 feet high and then come down on the other side, equally steep. But the going is tough and a small dirt track about four to five feet wide wound its way up the hill. At many places, steps had been cut and reinforced by bamboo at the edges. Thousands of people start their trek as midnight approaches, jostling their way while shouting continuous invocations to various Gods and Goddesses.
Looking down the winding path lit up with electric bulbs fitted into the trees one can see the Kund at a considerable distance down below. There is actually no Kund as such, for during the great earthquake, which shook the whole of the northeast in 1950. Lohit River changed its course and overran the Kund, completely covering it. Parashuram Kund, as it stands today, is actually a small alcove where the river has been split by some huge boulders, sending a narrow stream of water to embrace the revered spot. This is where the pilgrims take a dip to wash away their sins.
Myths, Beliefs And Faith
After taking bath in the Kund, visit the temple dedicated to Lord Parashuram, one of the very few that exist in India. A peculiar kind of belief is that one is not supposed to take a dip in the Kund if one's parents are still alive.
After visiting this place one just can't not help wondering what is that mysterious force, which makes 80 and 90 year old people, blind, legless and armless beggars converge at this sacred place from placed for away, once every year. Is it faith? Superstition or just misplaced frenzy?
Air: Nearest airport is situated at Mohanbari (Dibrugarh
Rail: Nearest railway station is Tinusukia.
Road: There are two ways of approaching Parashuram Kund. One route is via Tezu, the headquarters of Lohit district in the eastern part of Arunachal. About 20-km away from Tezu, on the Tezu-Walong highway, one has to get onto a freshly prepared dirt track up to the banks of the Lohit River. Passengers and vehicles are then ferried across on boats to Parashuram Kund on the other bank. The other route is via a place called Wakro. Most of the pilgrims avail of this route.