Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Amarnath Yatra 2011- The Countdown Begins

This year’s pilgrimage to the holy cave of Amarnath in Kashmir is to begin from the 29th of this month. It will continue till August 13, the Shravana Poornima day, which coincides with Raksha Bandan. The countdown has begun with the State Government finalising all arrangements for the pilgrims.

The 5000-year old Yatra, which used to be a pilgrimage for only a few days, has grown tremendously in size over the years. It is now being conducted for more than one and a half months with over 4 lakh people taking part in the Yatra each year. Registration for the Yatra has already begun on first come first served basis. On line registration has also been introduced this year. Over 2 lakh pilgrims have already registered in the first few days only.

The holy cave of Amarnath is situated in the Himalyan range surrounded by snow capped mountains, about 96 kilometres from Srinagar with the base camp at the picturesque tourist resort of Pahalgam. A huge tented township comes up here during the Yatra to accommodate the pilgrims. From Pahalgam to the cave it is a distance of 46 kilometres. The pilgrimage from this traditional route takes four days with overnight stops at Chandanwari, Sheshnag and Panchtarni. Beyond Chandanwari,- 3 kilometres from Pahalgam- it is a foot-march, with the elderly persons moving on horsebacks and the sick and disabled being carried on palanquins by four persons on their shoulders, chanting ‘Baba Amarnath ki Jai’. The highest point touched en-route is the Mahaguns which is about 14500 feet above the sea level. The cave itself is at a lower elevation of about 1300 feet.
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