Jammu may be called as city of temples but in fact it is a land of, not just temples, but a number of holy shrines, ponds and other water bodies and many other places of devotion, associated with folk traditions of Duggar.
Though fewer people might immediately recognise the name, but the river Devika is one of the most holy rivers of Duggar. Just above Sudhmahadev, at about 1600 meter altitude which is vast mountain shelf, Devika takes its final shape. A number of tirths, or pilgrimage centres, dot banks of the river right from its source of origin and along its subsequent sub-terrain journey, as Gupta Ganga, up to the point of Uttarbehni, where from it starts flowing towards north.
Devika, or Devak, continues to attract on special days, thousands of devotees who consider the river is as sacred as Ganges.
According to legends, the river is believed to have appeared on Phaggan (February-March) Chaturdashi i.e., Shivaratri at the end of Dwapar Yug when Sage Kashyap prayed to Lord Shiva to resort something for the purification of the sinners of Madra Desh (surrounding Sialkot). Lord Shiva asked his consort Uma (Parvati) to flow through the land as Devika and said that whosoever bathed in this river would be purified from sins. Lord Shiva himself manifested as lingams at a number of places on the bank of river Devika of which Sudhmahadev, Udhampur, Purmandal and Uttarbehni are the most famous.
Both Uma (Parvati) and Ganga are daughters of king Himavat and queen Mainavati, and hence sisters.
In Padma Purana, Lord Krishna once said to Yudhishtra,
“Even river Ganga, when becomes overburdened by the sins of the evil-doers bathing for purification, herself comes to bathe in the Devika to get rid of that weight”.
Since the Lord Shiva himself manifested on the banks of the Devika in the form of Shiv Lingams, so a great importance is attached to a bath in its water on festivals or on special sacred days for the purpose of obtaining moral cleansing.
It is disappointing to see lack of awareness about this revered river and social and governmental apathy towards rejuvenation of this forgotten and neglected heritage.