Registration of pilgrims for the forthcoming Shri Amarnath pilgrimage in South Kashmir started from June 1 under heavy security cover. Jammu and Kashmir Bank throughout the country, have been assigned the task of registering pilgrims.
According to the chief executive officer of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board and secretary to the Governor, Arun Kumar, the bank had been asked to register 3 lakh pilgrims. The board would start doing on-the-spot registration in case the weather permits. He said the two-month long pilgrimage would begin on June 30 and culminate on August 28.
The Himalayan pilgrimage for Amarnath shrine of Lord Shiva will once again open for a duration of two months, from June 30 till August 28 this year.
This has defied all speculations that the pilgrimage duration would be altered this year because of the uncertain weather conditions in the Himalayas during June – August part of the calendar year. This year, it will commence from June 30, the Jaisht Purnima, one of the auspicious dates in the Hindu calendar, and conclude on Shrvan Purnima on August 28, the day on which Hindus celebrate Raksha Bandhan festival.
This will be for the second time in more than 150-year-old history of the pilgrimage that the pilgrimage duration would be for two months. The beginning was made last year when nearly four lakh pilgrims had visited the shrine, where a natural icelingam, iconic of Lord Shiva is formed by the icy droplets from the rooftop of a vast cave, at the height of 13,500 feet above sea level.
Dr Arun Kumar, chief executive officer of Shri Amarnath Shrine Board told that Chairman of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board, Governor, Retd Lt Gen SK Sinha, wants the pilgrimage to be more comfortable this year, as compared to the previous years. He has already instructed that infrastructure needed for making pilgrims comfortable during the pilgrimage be set up. The Shrine Board offers prefabricated accommodation to the pilgrims. ?Our stress is on having more toilets this time, both for the convenience of the pilgrims and also for the sake of the environment,?
Both the routes, the traditional track via Pahalgam that ascends upto Mahagunus pass touches the myth logically important places Sheeshnag and Panchtarni, and the steeper and shorter climb route via Baltal, would be thrown open for the pilgrim traffic.
Not more than 5,000 pilgrims per day would be allowed to proceed to the cave shrine from the two routes-Pahalgam and Baltal.
Despite spurt in violence, there has been no drop in tourist traffic. It has in fact, increased marginally. The Amarnath Yatra is a matter of faith for the pilgrims irrespective of the fact that whether the weather conditions allow the formation of the Lingam or not. Whatever be the designs of the terrorists, the flow of tourists to the Amarnath Cave would continue.