DEHRADUN: The Dhari Devi temple located in the river Alaknanda at Srinagar in Pauri Garhwal is a favourite spot for many politicians who come here to seek blessings of the goddess considered as the guardian deity of the char dhams in the Himalayas. To facilitate smooth operation of a 330 MW hydropower project being built in the area, the height of the temple was raised so that it stood above the gushing Alaknanda river. Now that the project is executed, locals want that the temple should be relocated to its original place (mool sthan) to avoid the ‘wrath of the goddess’ (whose anger at being shifted, as per local belief, is believed to have been behind the 2013 flash floods). “On the morning of June 16, 2013, the Dhari Devi shrine was removed and shifted to the concrete platform at a height of about 611 metres from the Alaknanda river so that it doesn’t submerge in the river. On the same evening, the devastating flashfloods hit Kedarnath,” said Anuj Pandey, a priest at the temple.
The temple is over 200 years old and is considered as one of the shakti peeths of Uttarakhand. A number of prominent politicians — from CM Harish Rawat to Union water resources minister Uma Bharati — are frequent visitors to the shrine. According to locals, despite being a high-profile place of worship, the temple continues to be precariously located on concrete beams and scaffolding over the raging river. “Many politicians have come here before and after the polls. Despite assurances for speeding up the construction work at the adjoining site, nothing has happened,” said Vishveshwar Prasad Pandey, chief priest of the temple. He further added, “We were told that the temple would be shifted to a safer site by 2014. However, over three years have passed and the construction work is far from getting over.”
The locals also complained that due to the delay, visitors’ safety at the shrine was getting compromised. Brijesh Negi, a local, told TOI, “During Navratra, the temple is visited by thousands of devotees and all of them walk into the temple through a narrow path over the river, which is very unsafe.”
Meanwhile, representatives of Alaknanda Hydropower Co, which is involved in the execution of the hydropower project and have been mandated to relocate the temple, said that the construction work at the site was ongoing and the relocation would be completed in next three months.