QUANDARY OF A MOSTERY - PART II
By Our Staff Reporter
Cooch Behar, Dec 31: The Madhupur Xatra has an obscure place in the country's tourist map despite its immense historic significance. This is apparently because of lack of promotiol initiatives on the part of both Assam and West Bengal governments.
The lack of awareness regarding the Vaishvite mostery is such that visitors from north and south India come in search of Lord Shiva or Shri Adi Shankaracharya to the xatra.
"You tell me, how many people from Assam visit the xatra? Or how many are even aware that such a place exists here?" says Xatradhikar Lakhikanta Mahanta when asked about the number of footfalls in the historic xatra.
"People elsewhere are not even aware of what a xatra is or who Srimanta Sankardev was. Many visitors come in search of Lord Shiva and ask where the Shiva Linga is located. Some come in search of Shankaracharya," he added.
During the monsoons, the number of visitors comes down drastically. "The situation then becomes such that we can't even afford to buy oil to light up the lamps at the altar," the Xatradhikar told The Sentinel.
Known to be a treasure trove of historical documents and manuscripts, Madhupur Xatra was built in the 15th century.
After coming back from his second pilgrimage, Sankardev used to reside at Bheladoba and Kakatkuta, both adjacent to Madhupur. The saint passed away at Kakatkuta. His disciple-in-chief Madhabdeva used to reside at Bheladoba.
The Bheladoba Xatra was washed away in floods. King Birraya, son of king raraya, and younger brother King Lakshiraya helped devotees shift the xatra to Madhupur with items of significance, including earth, from the Bheladoba Xatra.
Four years ago, Oil India Limited doted a ambulance to the Xatra. But the xatra committee could not get the permits and other documents to operate the vehicle due to lack of funds.
Assam Tourism, West Bengal Tourism department and Assam minister Prithvi Majhi had funded a guest house each at the mostery premises. Assam government has also constructed the Xatradhikar's house and Kirtan Ghar, but the initiatives have not helped promote and conserve the historic Vaishvite mostery.
"The Assamese people are to blame for the predicament of Madhupur Xatra. People visit the xatra and come back. Nobody thinks about it afterwards," rued Xatradhikar of Dhubri's Ramrai Kuti Xatra Jitendra Pradhani.
Recently, the Madhupur Xatra Committee submitted a Rs 1 crore proposal to Assam Cultural Affairs minister Bismita Gogoi for renovation of the xatra. No response has been forthcoming from the Tarun Gogoi government so far. (To be concluded)