Aesthetically appealing, ergonomically designed palkis (open palanquins) conceptualised by researchers working at the Industrial Design Centre (IDC) of the Indian Institute of Technology - Bombay (IIT-Bombay) will replace the existing palkis used to take pilgrims to the Vaishno Devi shrine in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), reports The Hindu.
53 of these modern palkis will be handed out on Friday (19 April) to porters who work at the shrine by the state’s governor Satya Pal Malik. Palanquins are generally used by pilgrims who cannot travel 13 kilometres to Vaishno Devi from Katra on foot.
The palkis which are presently in use were built with galvanised iron pipes, and are thus cumbersome and heavy, also being easily susceptible to damage.
The researchers at IIT-B made sure to keep these problems in mind while designing the new palki.
“The main advantage of our palki is its light weight We have used stainless steel which is lightweight and durable,” said IDC head B K Chakravarthy.
The new palki, at 34 kg, weighs much less compared to the earlier palkis, which weigh around 45 kg. Carrying the weight of the pilgrim, his/her luggage and the weight of the palki on the trek to Vaishno Devi is an extremely arduous task for the porters.
The IIT-B designed palkis also offer much better balance and support. Thus the new palkis will bring much-needed relief to the porters, while also making the journey more comfortable for pilgrims.
One of the porters, Kakuram, remarked that the new palkis would make life much easier.
“Every day is a battle for us. Using the new palki will add at least 10 years to our life as it is comfortable on the body,” he said.