Srinagar: A totally redesigned ‘Palki’ or palanquin will soon be launched to ferry pilgrims to the cave shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi in Trikuta hills of Jammu and Kashmir.
Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board is shortly launching totally redesigned ‘Palkis’ for the much greater comfort of pilgrims and convenience of the Palkiwallahs, a senior of the official of SMVDSB said.
The new highly comfortable, much lighter weight, sturdier and aesthetically designed ‘Palkis’ have been developed by a team of the Industrial Design Centre of IIT Bombay and National Institute of Industrial Engineering (NITIE), Mumbai, in continuing collaboration with the Shrine Board, the official said.
As of now, 10 newly designed aluminium based Palkis have been received by the Shrine Board, and these are presently plying on the track on a demonstration basis. 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, he said.
The newly designed Palkis is 30 kg less in weight than the traditional ones and provides very significant convenience to the Palkiwallas to carry pilgrims.
It is pertinent to recall that the idea of improving the traditional ‘Palkis’ was deliberated in a meeting held at Raj Bhavan in December 2014 between Governor NN Vohra, SMVDSB Chairman, and Dr R Chidambaram, Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India.
It was decided in the meeting that the University of Jammu shall act as the nodal point for the functioning of the Rural Technology Action Group (RuTAG) which, with support from IIT, Delhi, and other technical institutions will assist the Shrine Board to undertake varied technology upgradation tasks, he said.
It was agreed that the traditional ‘Palkis’ shall be redesigned through a team of IIT Bombay headed by Prof BK Chakravarthy in collaboration with NITIE, he added.
In the past 4 years, several designs and prototypes of the improved Palkis have been developed, trial runs have been conducted and modifications made which were based on the feedback provided by the Palkiwallahs.
Under the aegis and support of the RuTAG, Mechanical Engineering students from the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi University have also been involved in the trial runs of the newly designed Palkis, based upon the continuing feedback from the Palkiwallahs, he said.
“Some of the Palkiwallahs were also taken to IIT Bombay to provide first-hand feedback regarding the efficacy of the modified Palkis.They have also been imparted training on the use of the improved Palkis”, the official said.
These have been developed based on ergonomic studies to make the journey comfortable for the pilgrims, besides presenting a pleasing aesthetic look, the redesigned Palkis are sturdy and can carry weights more than 100 kg, he added.