Amarnath Yatra

AMARNATH YATRA Started on 29th June, 2011

 

The Amarnath Shrine,located in South Kashmir at a height of about 13,000 ft. is dedicated to Lord Shiva . Come July-August and every year the Valley is full of pilgrims from all over the country coming to have a glimpse of Amarnath Mahadev. All the villages around the township of the famous tourist destination,Pahalgam become agog with a lot of activities. After all in these two months they have to earn enough to see them through the next one year.The market at Pahalgam is tastefully decorated in the hope of a booming business. From Pahalgam to the Shrine , rich people arrange free Langars for feeding the devotees.

It is very difficult to trace the correct history of this pilgrimage. Normlly it is believed that this Shrine may be some 5,000 years old. In support of this claim, some Vedic references are also advanced. But they too are not accepted by several historians. However, the first dependable literary evidence is available in Kalhan’s Rajtaran gini of 11th century. Several other references of the Mughal period are also found. Once Emperor Akbar was also given the information about this Shrine by the then governor of Kashmir. On the other hand there is a very popular story prevalent in the local people in this connection according to this ,a shepherd ,in course of grazing his sheep in that locality discovered the self made ice Shivalingam .He rushed back to his village and disclosed to his Hindu co-villagers that their Lord was present in the cave. This story appears true because since that time onward, the family of that Muslim shepherd has been receiving share in the offerings to Amarnath Mahadev .

How to reach Amarnath Shrine ?

Till nearly 25 years back, there was only one route _ Srinagar to the Shrine via Pahalgam. The cave Shrine from Pahalgam is about 40 km away. Important places falling on the road are Chandanbari, Sheshnag, Mahagunnus Top, Poanchtarni and the Cave. The beautiful lake at Sheshn is quite enchanting . It is said that Shiva had unfolded the secrets of life to his consort Parvati in the Amarnath cave. While going to the cave, Shiva had followed this track. He left sandalpaste on his forehead at Chandanbari, the ever present snake around his neck at Sheshnag and other five elemental body at Panchtarni.
The recently opened other route from Srinagar is via Baltal. It is 14 km long from Baltal to the cave.On the way one will come across places like Domali Marg,Sangam and the cavhe itself. From Srinagar, a pilgrim can come to Baltal by car and thus he can leave Srinagar in the morning and after the darshan can return to Srinagar in the same evening.Thus the entire trip may take just about ten hours.In addition to the above routes,a helicopter service has also been launched recently.

Darshan Periods Of Amarnath Shrine :

The most sacred day for the darshan of Amarnath Mahadev js the Shravan Poornima also more popularly known as Raksha Bandhan Divas. In the olden days the Amarnath Yatra,famous by the name of Chhari Mubarak started only some 3-4 days before and concluded on the Shravan Poornima.The Holy Mace (Chhari Mubarak ), accompanied by the sages of different cults and the pilgrims at large in procession started with a great religious fanfare from the Dashnami Akhara,,Srinagar and on the completion of the mission was again carefully preserved there.

The above practice is still being followed with the same pomp and devotion. However it was realized by the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board that the growing number of pilgrims could not be accommodated in those counted few days. Moreover, the state Government also had its eyes on the income through tourism. So the Board decided to open the Shrine for about two months from Ashad Poornima to Shravan Poornima. This year it started on July 1 and will last for 55 days. In past this prolonged period created many problems. It is an accepted fact the Shiva devotees offer water on the feet of the Lord. If water is poured on a mass of ice, it is bound to melt. In certain years the ice phallous completely disappeared. The worshipping priests,honouring the sentiments of the devotees brought ice from nearby places, secretly made a lingam and placed it there.Later when there was a disclosure,it resulted into a great uproar all over the country. Under public pressure,the organizers are ensuring today that the self-made Shivalingam,even in a reduced form, continues to bless the faithful.In fact there are two other lingams in the close vicinity,representing Parvati and Ganesha. The Shrine Board ensures that all the three are kept entact.

Dangers on Amarnath Shrines Track

In olden days, the pilgrimage to Amarnth was supposed to be the most difficult.That is why the local people call it “maran-nath” meaning thereby that death was involved in this journey. They also used to say,”all pilgrimages again and again but Amarnath only once”.Since in those days there was no shade on the route,any possible rain or snow-fall brought sure death. Mahagunus Top is the highest point in the route (over 13,000 ft) and around it even today one can see the skeletons of dead horses and donkeys caught in such an inclement weather . Things have improved a lot today. At places there are shades for such eventualities.Food items and medicine are available in abundance.The Booard keeps a very close watch o the Langarwallas so that there was no adulteration.

Hospitality Service In Amarnath Shrine

Normally one will find it difficult to imagine the open-hearted hospitality of the local people, mostly Muslims extended to the pilgrims. They freely give firewood to the naked hermits to warm their body. Other necessities like food, items of worship , cloth etc are also provided willingly. The coolies and pony owners will be seen chanting the name of Baba Amarnath. They provide every possible cooperation to the old and physically weak pilgrims. This wonderful communal harmony is bound to keep alive the faith in Amarnath Mahadev for centuries to come.

 

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