July , 2023
Amarnath Yatra: A Festival in Kashmir
23:04 pm

Shabir Bhat

The annual Amarnath Yatra, spanning 62 days, began in the picturesque Kashmir Valley on July 1 and will conclude on August 31. The pilgrimage will take place on two routes: Pahalgam in Anantnag and Baltal in Ganderbal district.

Manoj Sinha, the Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, has appealed to all sections of the people in Kashmir to cooperate in ensuring a peaceful yatra. Sinha has conducted several meetings with the administration and security officials to review the arrangements for the pilgrimage.

While chairing an important meeting in Srinagar, Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha remarked that the successful G20 meeting has become a historic event in Jammu and Kashmir, setting a benchmark for the smooth execution of upcoming events such as the Amarnath Yatra. Sinha presided over a meeting with senior officials from the police and civil administration of the Kashmir division, commending their efforts in the successful organisation of the G20 event.

Director General of Police Dilbagh Singh stated that the police and security forces are fully prepared to ensure a seamless and peaceful yatra. He emphasized that after the successful conduct of the G20 summit in Kashmir, it is now the responsibility of the security forces to ensure the peaceful culmination of the yatra.

For decades, the local Muslims of Kashmir have facilitated the yatra by arranging tents and other facilities along the pilgrimage route. Their cooperation has played a vital role in maintaining the peaceful and smooth conduct of the yatra, which symbolizes communal brotherhood and harmony in Kashmir.

Situated at an altitude of 3,888 meters, the holy Amarnath cave can be accessed via two routes in the Kashmir Valley. The 46-km Pahalgam-Holy cave trek is an ancient pilgrimage route that takes around five days to complete. Within the cave lies the naturally formed ice lingam of Lord Shiva, which waxes and wanes with the phases of the moon. The newer 14-kilometer Baltal-Holy cave route is preferred by many pilgrims due to its shorter duration, though it involves steep terrain and can be completed in a single day.

In addition to providing economic opportunities for the locals, the Amarnath Yatra serves as a testament to the strong bond between the people of Kashmir and the pilgrims.

According to local folklore, the Amarnath Cave was discovered by a Muslim shepherd named Buta Malik in 1850. Legend has it that while grazing his herds in the mountains, Buta Malik encountered a saint who gave him a bag of coal. When he reached home and opened the bag, he was astonished to find it filled with gold instead of coal. Filled with joy, he hurried back to express his gratitude to the saint but could not locate him. Instead, he discovered the cave and the ice lingam. He shared this extraordinary story with the villagers, marking the beginning of the pilgrimage to the Amarnath Cave.

According to myths, the Kashmir Valley was once submerged underwater, and Sage Kashyap drained it through a series of rivers and creeks. Following this event, Rishi Bhrigu was the first to discover the Amarnath cave and have a darshan (sight) of Lord Shiva. Inspired by this tale, people began undertaking the annual pilgrimage circuit to the Amarnath Cave, which takes place in July and August.

Reta Devi, a pilgrim from Madhya Pradesh, expressed her joy at having the darshan of Baba Barfani (Lord Shiva) through the Chandanwari route, describing it as a dream come true. She expressed satisfaction with the arrangements made by the Government of Jammu & Kashmir, and stated that all yatris are content with the facilities provided. 

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