Padder in district Kishtwar has much of its own to offer. It is situated in the bank of the river Chenab offering a unique and fascinating sight of the location. Padder has the unique distiction of having the sacred shrines of Mata Chandi lacated at an altitude of 9,500ft. at Machail village surrounded by high mountains, deodar forest and attractiove meadows adjacent to world famous sapphire mines area. Machail Yatra has its origin in Mahalakshmi temple at pacca Danga. The yatra starts with a religious procession which passes through Jain Bazar, Lionk Road, Purani Mandi, Raghunath Bazar and Indira Chowk and then joins the yatra at Chinote Bhaderwah.
The holy journey of Machail shrine is about 320 kms. from Jammu city. The foot journey of 31 kms. from Atholi to Machail is a treasure of nature's glimpses, attractions, enroute temples, caves bubbling streams, springs greenery and at some places sharp naked mountains peaks with night halls at Massu, Chishoti and Machail village.The worship of the goddess continues at halting stations till late night.
The Yatra usually commences from Aug 18 every year from Chinote Bhaderwah. The Yatries have been permitted by the Yatra management “Sarv Shakti Sevak Sanstha” to undertake pilgrimage from 10th of august itself to avoid rush and have glimpses of goddess. The most important and impressive aspect of the machail yatra is the unique holy mace of the goddess which remains ahead of the pilgrims to provide strength and inspiration to the pilgrims enroute.
According to a legend Thakur Kulbir singh ji, the goddess chain appeared at machail long-long ago in the shape of shila (Pindi). Maa chandi came here from ancient place Mindal Battas(HP) to bless the simple, ignorant and helpless people of Padder area.
The main reception station of famous Machail Yatra include Bhala, Puldoda, Premnagar, Thathri, Kishtwar, Atholi, Massu, Chishoti and Machail where religious congregation and bhandaras are organized to highlight the importance of religion and yatra. The distance of about 200kms of the yatra from its base camp up to Gulabgarh padder is covered by bus in 3 days. Local people also welcome pilgrims in their houses from the core of hearts and offers every possible facility within their reach to the pilgrims free of cost treatment them as guests of goddess Chandi. The devotional songs and holy couplets sung and chanted in local padre language add to the charm of the holy dances throughout the day. Havans are also performed by the devotees for their peace and satisfication.
The Chandi dham Machail has the distinction of the simultaneously appearance of Shiv and shakti. On the one hand, the goddess Chandi (Shakti) is blessing her devotees at Machail village while on the other hand God Mahadev abruptly appears on the opposite high mountain in the shape of Lingam to provide darshans to the pilgrims on the pious occasion of the Shakti yatra. The mountain is called Shiv Pahad which often remains covered with black clouds. It is unique union of shiv and Shakti found in Machail only and nowhere else in our country. It is a historical fact that the great General Zorawar Singh on his way to conquer Gilgit first bowed his head before the goddess to get her blessings. It is said that the goddess in structured her senior disciple to accompany Zorawar singh to gigit and come back with flying colours and this fact stands reflected in the Aarti of Machail yatra.
The Bhote river is a companion all along the journey from Gulabgarh, Atholi to Machail. The work of construction of road from Gulabgarh Padder to Machail which is in progress needs to be speeded up so that places like Massu, Garh, Leondi, Deondi, Kundel, Cheshoti, Hamori are connected. A famous hot water spring at Tatapani has its own significance where people rush to hav bath to grt relief from pains in joints and skins disorders. The yatra is manned and conducted by a state level registered soial-cum-sprituial organization, ‘Sarv Shakti sevak sanstah” first of its kind ever formed in the state. The district and divisional aministratin also extended its helping hand to the sanstha by way of deputing medica and wireless teams, yatra officers, volunteers, security staff and deployment of pilgrims vehicles to make the yatra a grand success. The machail yatra is continuously becoming popular day by day.
Also the famous sapphires mines of Padder happen to here. The state govt. must take it up in its hands for extraction of gems on a scientific and sustained basis. At machail one cannot and should not afford to miss the chance to visit Gumpas which are only 3kms away.