Priyanka Gandhi visits Kashmir to pray at shrine

Priyanka Gandhi visits Kashmir to pray at shrine

Priyanka Gandhi visits Kashmir to pray at shrine

Congress President Sonia Gandhi's daughter Priyanka Gandhi made an unscheduled visit to the Kashmir valley Thursday to pray at a famous shrine and returned to New Delhi the same evening.

Priyanka drove straight to the Mata Khirbhawani shrine in north Kashmir's Ganderbal district after arriving at Srinagar International Airport. The shrine is 24 km from Srinagar city. 

All traffic to and from Tullamulla town in district was stopped for her security during the visit."She was on a private one-day visit to Kashmir which was kept under wraps for security reasons. Even some top local Congress leaders did not know about this visit", a senior official of the state intelligence told IANS in summer capital Srinagar.

Priyanka prayed at the Mata Khirbhawani Shrine for nearly an hour before returning to Srinagar city. 

Khirbhawani Shrine is the holiest shrine of the Kashmiri Pandit community. Priyanka's grandmother Indira Gandhi and great grandfather Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first prime minister, both belonged to this community.

Keeping alive the family tradition, Priyanka also visited the Swami Lakhsmanjoo Ashram in Nishat area of Srinagar. 

Her grandmother was a devout follower of late Swami Lakhsmanjoo who was a renowned exponent of Shaivite Hinduism which Priyanka personally is known to adhere to keep alive her Kashmiri Pandit ancestry.

After praying at the two holy places, Priyanka Gandhi flew back to New Delhi.