As per practice in vogue this year also pilgrimage to the holy Cave of Amarnath Ji Shrine would take place. Pilgrims from rest of India as well as from outside country receive an opportunity every year to visit the Shrine in order to pay their obeisance there at the shrine. The Holy Cave lies in the tough terrain area of south Kashmir.
The main base Camp always happens to be at Pehalgam (Anantnag) where the yatries report after duly getting themselves properly registered. Because without undergoing the process of registration none of the pilgrims is allowed to visit the Shrine. The motive behind the proper registration is to ensure safety pilgrimage of pilgrims. The Holy Cave lying in the mountainous range is actually situated at the height of 13500 feet from Sea Level. The path leading to the Holy Cave is almost all through the hillocks and travel through these hillocks is generally felt very cumbersome and to undertake yatra travel through these hillocks makes yatries terribly tiresome.
The climate throughout the cave area right from Chandanwadi upto the Holy Cave is too cool which sometimes cause impediments to pilgrims during pilgrimage. Chandanwadi is a place wherefrom the yatra orginates. Significantly, lot of importance is applied to the whether forecasts. The forecasting of whether is monitored throughout the route right from Jammu Base Camp upto the Holy Cave. The forecast Bulletins are regularly reached out to the pilgrims both through print and electronic media. In case of most unfavorable whether forecast, the yatries are advised to prolong their halts at main and mini Base Camps.
In older times the pilgrims would experience lot of hardships in making yatra for want of adequate facilitations. But with the passage of time and the timely developments on various basic and necessary fronts’ maximum number of facilitations are being kept readily available to the yatries every year. This results in the hassle-free yatra of pilgrim’s upto the Holy Cave. Maximum number of portable oxygen cylinders are made available enabling the aged yatries to undertake comfortable pilgrimage.
The yatra schedule is announced well in advance which enables the pilgrims to follow the registration rules properly. By announcing yatra schedule quiet in advance, the Administration also gets ample of time to ensure foolproof arrangements throughout the yatra.
At present the Shri Amar Nath Ji Shrine Board (SASB) stands constituted. It happens to be the area of responsibility of SASB to formulate proper arrangements. Before the commencement of yatra, comprehensive plans are drawn up so as to decide and identify the specific spots where lungers, halting stations, resting spots for the pilgrims could be installed. Free Lungers stand installed at various places in order to ensure that each and every yatri is able to avail of meal facility. Availability of ponies and potters is ensured by the SASB in association with Administration for the yatries rather an adequate type of such facility is readily kept available for all the time during yatra. Law enforcement agencies also contribute significantly throughout the route leading to cave right from Jammu Base Camp at “Bhagwati nagar” during Yatra period.
Adequate Police arrangements are ensured well in advance. The Police force members who also include paramilitary contingents remain always available for rendering necessary assistance to the yatries. Similarly, the locals of the area also provide their helping hand to the yatries during yatra period. The local Muslim population does not leave any stone unturned in presenting suitable standard of protocol to the yatries. Their support and cooperation towards yatries do provide supporting hand not only to the pilgrims but also to the SASB and Administrative machinery regulating the yatra arrangements.
The local Muslims provide hot water, Tea, Snacks, homemade foods to the yatries during Yatra. This very kind of role is indeed earning appreciations. The yatries also carry along with appreciative impression about local Muslims. This is also one of the reasons of recognition of our great Kashmiriyat throughout the world. It is said that a muslim individual belonging to malik family has contributed regardless his personal comforts in locating the holy cave since time immemorial.
Similarly, arrangements also remain adequately available at other alternative route i.e. via Baltal wherefrom almost 30% pilgrims take an opportunity of undertaking pilgrimage through Baltal route. This very route is not as wide as Pehalgam route. The only advantage through the Baltal route is that the same is shorter distanced than Pehalgam route. Normally, one is able to complete the to and fro travel through this route in a single day when at least it takes 03 days to complete the yatra through Pehalgam-Nunwan route. But at the same the yatra through Baltal route appears to be little bit risky and the older people generally avoid this route.
During sharavan month of shakulpaksh the holy mace is taken from jammu base camp “Bagwati Nagar “ to “Dashnami akhara “ Srinagar and after ritual pooja ceremony it is taken to Pahelgam by Sadu’s wherefrom it is straightway taken to the holy cave .On Purnamashi of sharavan shakulpaksh .the main holy darshan alongwith holy mace is made .the last yatra contingent starts coming down back to pahalgam .
This year also we are expecting large number of pilgrims to pay obeisance at the shrine. The Administration remains on tenterhooks as regards the health of pilgrims. The pilgrims are only allowed if they are declared medically fit for the said hectic and prolonged travel yatra. The pilgrims who are deemed fit to undertake yatra are required to obtain health certificate from the concerned authority. This is being ensured only to avoid the death of persons who are unable to undertake yatra on ailing health grounds.