World's largest Shaligram faces existential crisis

PBARBAT: 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 fossilised 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.

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.

He said the Kaligandaki 'A' Project has taken 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.

Locals complain that the Shila Conservation Committee has also not shown any zeal in conserving and repairing the structure surrounding the Shila.