Traditional Pahalgam Route To Amarnath Cave Shrine Opens

2 July 2014
The Tribune (Chandigarh)

Jammu: The Pahalgam route to the Amarnath cave shrine opened today with the first batch of pilgrims leaving from the Nunwan base camp. The yatra, scheduled to commence from both routes on June 28, could not be started via Pahalgam because of snow accumulation on the Chandanwari-Sheshnag-Panjtarni-holy cave track. Governor NN Vohra, who is also the chairman of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board, yesterday reviewed the situation at a meeting which decided to allow the movement of the yatris from the Pahalgam route today. Deputy Commissioner, Anantnag, Swagat Biswas, said he had been in touch with the officials en route to the cave. 'I am keeping a track of the pilgrims. Their well-being is our priority,' he said. An official spokesman said 4,166 yatris left from Pahalgam to the holy cave today while 8,922 yatris left from the Baltal route. On the fifth day of the yatra today, 10,628 pilgrims offered prayers at the shrine. Till date, 61,156 yatris have had darshan of the Shivalingam at the cave shrine. Due to overcast sky and rain in the morning, the yatra got delayed and the first batch of yatris left from Baltal at 6:50 am and from Chandanwari at 6:10 am. On a fair weather day, the first batch of yatris leaves from Baltal at 4:45 am and from Chandanwari at 6:00 am. Meanwhile, Mahant Deependra Giri has said 'Chhari Mubarak', the holy mace of Lord Shiva, will be carried from its abode at Dashnami Akhara in Srinagar to the Amarnath shrine on July 12 through the traditional Pahalgam route. 'Bhoomi pujan' and 'dhawajarohan' ceremonies will be performed at the resting place of the holy mace in Pahalgam after which it will return to Srinagar in the evening. On July 26, Chhari Mubarak will be taken to the Shankaracharya temple for prayers and return to Dashnami Akhara. Prayers will also be held on July 27. On July 30, 'Chhari Sthapana' and 'dhwajarohan' ceremonies will be performed at Dashnami Akhara. It will then leave for Pahalgam on August 8. The mace will leave Pahalgam on August 8 for a night halt at Chandanwari and on August 10 proceed towards the cave shrine for pujan. Rituals and prayers will be performed the whole day at the holy cave and before dusk, Chhari Mubarak will leave for night halt at Panchtarni. Arduous track: The 48-km route from Pahalgam in Anantnag district is the traditional route to the Amarnath cave shrine. It has a 16-km motorable stretch to Chandanwari. Other halting stations along the route are Sheshnag and Panjtarni which is 6 km short of the shrine. The route is treacherous but preferred by a majority of the pilgrims. The shorter route of 14 km to the shrine is from Baltal near Sonamarg in Ganderbal district. Pilgrims who leave from the Baltal base camp early in the morning usually return to the base camp the same day in the evening.