Kumram Bheem-Asifabad: The three-day long annual Gandhari Maisamma jatara, a religious and cultural affair of Naikpod community, has begun on a colourful note at the historic Gandhari hill on the outskirts of Bokkalagutta village in Mandamarri mandal from Friday.
Members of Rodda clan brought holy water from Godavari and worshipped Sadar Bheemanna deity, located away from the fort as a prelude to the affair. Devotees danced to drum beats while others carried flags representing the deities. Special abhisekham to goddess Maisamma and other deities on the fort will be perfomed on the second day.
Cultural programmes by artistes of Naikpod community will be presented on Saturday midnight. A Praja Darbar will also be held for addressing grievances of Adivasis on the final day of the fair which will be attended by local public representatives while leaders of Naikpods and tribal organisations voice their concerns.
Devotees belonging to several parts of the district and neighbouring Maharashtra and Chattisgarh congregate at the fort and revere the deity by performing special prayers. Some of them offer animal sacrifices and break coconuts as a token of gratitude seeking the deity for their well-being.
The Gandhari fort is believed to have been built by tribal king Meda Raju who ruled over this region by taking assistance from Kakitiya rulers in 900 AD. It houses the ancient temple of Maisamma. Similarly, it has idols of Kala Bhairava Swamy, Lord Siva, Lord Ganesh and Lord Hanuman idols were carved out of rocks here which captivate devotees with their aesthetic value. An ancient irrigation tank known as Meda Cheruvu is the hotspot where the visitors compete to take pictures.
Home to herbal plants
Besides, the ancient fort’s magnificent architecture, defensive constructions, bathing tanks and sculpture leaves visitors spellbound. Importantly, the monolithic eight-foot 10-headed Naga Sheshu idol draws the attention of tourists. Also, it is a home to several medicinal plants and herbarium specimen known to heal several diseases. At the foothill, some herbal plants are also grown during the jatara.