| Srinagar |
Updated: February 21, 2020 4:02:33 pm
Overlooking Srinagar is Hari Parbat, a hill home to a fort, a temple, a gurdwara and a dargah. The temple here is dedicated to Jagdamba Sharika Bhagwati, considered the presiding deity of Srinagar.
Rolled-up concertina wires lie on the long flight of stairs leading up to the temple. A CRPF jawan proffers a register, where one must note down their name and phone number before entering the temple. Inside, on the afternoon of February 16, around 10-15 people are busy with kirtan. It is a few days before Shivratri, and the temple is gearing up for the festival.
“Had you come here this time of the year in the 1980s, you wouldn’t have space for one sesame seed on the ground, so crowded would the courtyard have been. Had you come in the early 90s, you wouldn’t have found anyone,” says Virendra Koul, a retired government employee.
And today? “Oh, things are better. You see this gathering in the temple. We aren’t fearful of living our normal lives anymore. Over the years, a few pandits have come back, some because of the government’s rehabilitation…