The Samadhi of the Baba had a Dhuni and was beautifully designed in the middle of a well kept garden. Though not much could be gleaned about the Baba, those who made it there enjoyed thoroughly meditating at the Samadhi and partaking of the lovely eats served by the host.
During a short get-together arranged in a nearby hall, Sri M addressed the padayatris, probably for the last time during this yatra. He put in perspective the efforts made by the various teams, the sacrifices made by the padayatris, especially those who have been walking from Kanyakumari and thanked them all. He also lauded those who managed to land up and walk for shorter stretches. He was all praise for those who preferred to simply remain in the background and give tremendous support. He also pointed out that one should not focus on the shortcomings of this Magnum Opus and should rather look at the positives.
Then he explained the ground realities of the situation prevalent in Kashmir which prevented a fairytale end to the padayatra. Due to security issues, only a limited number of people could walk a certain distance from Jammu to Srinagar. The rest would be airlifted to Srinagar to enable them to participate in the closing function on the 29th. He then announced the list of walkers who would accompany him. Though others could also join him on their own, it was not considered a wise idea.
Then came the happy moment when the co-ordinators of the Walk of Hope were honoured by Sri M with medals. All the padayatris were presented with a memento each, as well. A giant group photo with Sri M and everyone present was taken in the lawns of the hotel. Then, the program for the last stretch of the walk was explained in detail to the yatris. The evening's program ended with tea and snacks.
Today's walk was sadly different from all so far as there was only a truncated participation due to obvious reasons. Those selected got into two Tempo Travellers and proceeded to the start point about 7 km away. It was touching to see those who could not make it and for whom the walk was over, come out and give their friends a send off, with the promise to meet them on the 29th.
The start point of the day was the Dargah of Panj Peer. Legend has it that five Sufi Saints used to live here in the 19th century. Though four of them died after they had left this place and settled in different states, the mortal remains of the eldest lay buried here. These Sufis had the patronage of the Jammu King Gulab Singh. This Dargah is visited by many, especially during the Urs in May every year.
The padayatris were lucky to take in the breathtaking view of the Shivalik ranges, the Tawi river meandering below and the magnificent Amar Mahal Palace, hardly a kilometer away. To add to their delight was the presence of a bunch of naughty and frolicking monkeys.
After visiting the Dargah on Sri M's arrival, the walk started along the old Nagrota road, slowly winding down before reaching the modern highway to Srinagar. The walk in itself was uneventful, but for a couple of tea breaks during which Sir regaled everyone with his ready wit. After ending the walk at Bamiyal, the yatris were taken back to Hotel Blue Sapphire, Udhampur where they spent the night.