iconimg Thursday, May 28, 2015

K Sandeep Kumar, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, January 16, 2013
Defence authorities have  granted pilgrims year-round access to the much-revered Patalpuri temple and Akshaya Vat (immortal Banyan tree) located in Akbar’s Fort.   Till now, ‘darshan’ at these religiously significant sites in the fort, which also houses the army’s sensitive ordnance depot, was allowed only during Ardh Kumbh and Kumbh.

Many people, including MPs and politicians, have been urging for the past few decades that the army and the Centre grant visitors free access to these religious sites. “In light of the sentiments of the people, we have decided to keep these sites open year-round,” said Maj Gen Bishamber Dayal, VSM, general officer commanding (GoC), Purva UP and MP Sub Area.

“Though the timing of the darshan will be decided by the trust managing these sites, the army will keep visits on from 6.30am to 5pm as being done at present for the Kumbh,” he added.

The army has already allowed entry to these two significant sites and the Saraswati Koop, a deep well beneath which the mythical Saraswati is believed to flow, for the 55-day Kumbh festival. “We are also exploring the possibility of allowing pilgrims access to Saraswati Koop the year round too, but there are security concerns,” he added.