Good news for pilgrims visiting the Vaishno Devi temple; refurbished ‘Palkis’ will soon be launched to ferry pilgrims to the holy shrine. The Vaishno Devi Shrine is located in the Trikuta hills and is a challenging trek of 14km; Palkis provide the comfortable option for pilgrims who are not able to travel on foot. The new Palkis come as blessing for pilgrims as well as the palki bearers.
Developed by a team headed by Prof B K Chakravarthy at Industrial Design Centre of IIT Bombay, in association with National Institute of Industrial Engineering (NITIE), Mumbai and also in collaboration with the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (SMVDSB). The palkis are highly comfortable, lighter weight, sturdier and aesthetically designed. 30kg less in weight than the traditional ones they can carry weight more than 100kg.
A senior of official of SMVDSB said, that the redesigned ‘Palkis’ will be launched shortly. As of now, 10 newly designed aluminium based Palkis are on a demonstration basis plying on the route. 90 more Palkis will be available next month and the entire batch of 100 such Palkis is scheduled to be formally launched by SMVDSB Chairman.
The idea of improving the traditional ‘Palkis’ was first discussed in a meeting between Governor N N Vohra, SMVDSB Chairman, and Dr R Chidambaram, Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India held at Raj Bhavan in December 2014. It was decided that the Shrine Board will be assisted by University of Jammu and the Rural Technology Action Group (RuTAG) will jointly undertake technology upgradation tasks with support from IIT and other technology institutions.
Since the meeting, in the past 4 years, several designs and prototypes of the improved Palkis have been developed. There have been several trial runs. On the basis of feedback received from Palki bearer, modifications were made to the design. Also, some of the Palkiwallahs were taken to IIT Bombay to provide first-hand feedback and were imparted training on the use and efficiency of the new-designed Palkis.