(Credit: iStockphoto/claracs)

A 200 year-old religious pilgrimage in India is getting a 21st century upgrade. A new smartphone app will help kanwar yatra (sometimes known as kawad yatra) run more smoothly this year.

Every year those making the journey, called kanyarias, come from all parts of India and head for the river Ganga. The pilgrimage is made in honor of Shiva, a principal deity in Hinduism, known as the destroyer of evil and the transformer.

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The kanyarias collect Ganga river water, considered holy, and carry it in two decorated pitchers balanced on a pole (the kanwar) across their shoulders. They return to their hometown to offer the water at their local Shiva shrines of temples.

The journey is marked by the beginning of the fifth month of the Hindu calendar, shravana (or saavan). Round-trip, it usually takes the entire month as most kanyarias do so on foot.

Meerut division commissioner Anita Meshram designed the Kaawad Yatra Management app specifically for those making the trip. Though some take personal cars, those walking will certainly want to know of spots to rest.

Kawaad Yatra
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The app provides information on the nearest hospital, temple, camp, police station, and ambulatory service. Contact information for officers on duty nearby are also included.

Officials are also monitoring and making safety preparations as the Gautam Budh Nagar district alone is expecting 15,000 kanyarias to pass through.

"The app is designed to work like a control room," said BN Singh, the district magistrate.

Noida also underwent a thorough inspection to ensure those passing through would have access to necessary facilities like water, toilets, lighting, and safety. Safety and planning is a necessity for cities since kanwar yatra has become popular again. The number of pilgrims in 2016 soared to 20 million, causing traffic problems in some areas.

The app is currently available to download only on Android.

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  1. India's religious pilgrimage 'kanwar yatra' honoring the god Shiva might be a little easier this year with the help of a new app called the Kaawad Yatra Management app.
  2. The app helps the millions of people, sometimes traveling on foot across the country, to find rest stops, police, hospitals and temples.

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Shelby is an Associate Writer for