After a gap of three years, the 43-day Amarnath Yatra to the holy ice cave shrine situated in south Kashmir Himalayas resumes in Jammu & Kashmir. The trip to the pious shrine began on Thursday. Over 3,000 pilgrims visited the shrine on the first day. The main shrine is located 12,756 ft from the seal level and is covered with snow most of the year except for a few months in the summer season.
The yatra begins with Pratham Puja, to ask for blessings from Baba Amarnath. Thousands of pilgrims, chanting Vedic mantras and religious hymns started their journey from the two routes available. The one which is 48km, Pahalgam route and the other route 14 km Baltal route. This helps in boosting tourism in the region too.
This year, the yatra began on June 30 and will end on August 11, on the same day as Raksha Bandhan. This year, the security is tight and heavily guarded. As per the officials, the security personnel are deployed three to four times more in strength. Along with this, security men are armed with automatic weapons and CCTV cameras are installed everywhere.
The health department of the Union Territory has made arrangements for a medical emergency. 109 Basic Life Supported ambulances and 26 Advance Life Support ambulances are placed at 55 locations on the way to Batal and Chandanwari routes from Qazigund for pilgrims.Not just CCTV cameras alone but drones and RFIDs are also being used to keep track of the movement of vehicles. Travellers are requested to carry aadhar card and biometrically verified documents with them.
According to popular beliefs, God Shiva wanted to narrate Amar Katha to Goddess Parvati alone. This is where Amarnath Cave is built. Lord Shiva left his basic essentials of life behind – Nandi, the bull he rides on, the moon top of Chandanwari and the snake around his neck at Lake Sheshang. He also left his sons alone.
In 2019, the Yatra was cut short due to the abrogation of Article 370. In 2020 and 2021, the covid-19 pandemic put a halt to the yatra altogether.