With just a couple of days left for the annual Amarnath pilgrimage to begin, the sacred Shivaling in the Holy Amarnath cave shrine, located at a height of 3,888 metres in South Kashmir, is bigger this time because of the heavy snowfall in the region. However, snow clearance along the traditional route to the cave is proving to be a challenge as told by officials.
The annual pilgrimage is to begin on July 2 and the holy Shivaling is already at 13 feet, against an average of 10-11 feet in the past few years. The valley has witnessed heavy snowfall this year and the temperature has remained slow constantly. Chief Yatra Officer Basheer Ahmad Khan said that the constant dip in temperature has helped the formation of the holy Shivaling, which is in better form at this point of time. He added that this year, it is likely to remain for long and that will attract more than expected pilgrims.
The Amarnath Yatra will be of 59 days duration this year, considering the long pending demand of the Sangh Parivar organizations. The decision on this was taken earlier this year at a meeting of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board chaired by Jammu and Kashmir Governor NN Vohra.
Reyaz Ahmad Wani, chief executive, Pahalgam Development Authority said that the track opening is always a challenge for the Amarnath Yatra when the weather barely cooperates with you. However, the authorities assured that the track will be restored and snow will be cleared from the track before the commencement of pilgrimage. The authorities are facing hardships during the clearance and other arrangement due to fresh snowfall on the 32 km long track from Chandanwari to the cave which was comparatively heavier than the previous few years.
Khan said that every other arrangement for the Yatra is in place. “Even tent suppliers and langarwalas have installed their tents and langars at different spots of the track up to the shrine,” he added. The departments concerned have strict orders to follow the Standard Operation Procedure.