Chhari Mubarak leaves for holy cave amid tight security

Avtar Bhat
JAMMU, Aug 20: The Chhari Mubarak (holy mace) of Lord Shiva left for Swami Amarnath Ji shrine in deep Himalayas in South Kashmir district of Anantnag from its abode Dashnami Akhara, Srinagar this morning amid tight security measures .
Led by its sole custodian Mahant Deependera Giri, who is also the president of True Trust formed by him in 2004, the Sadhus and devotees accompanying the Chhari Mubarak earlier performed Puja at Dashnami Akhara in a traditional way. As the holy mace left the Dashnami Akhara, the chanting of Bum Bum Bholey rent the air.
The Chhari Mubarak was escorted by a big contingent of CRPF Jawans and local police.
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Talking to media persons before leaving for holy cave, Mahant Deependra Giri said the people of Jammu and Kashmir State in general and Kashmir valley in particular cooperated with holy Amarnath yatra and without which it could not have been successful.
He said the love of the people of Valley towards the Swami Amarnath Ji yatra inspires more and more people to participate in the yatra from different parts of the country every year.  He expressed the hope that people of the Valley will render same cooperation in future also.
He said the Sadhus on reaching the holy cave will make special prayers for the peace and prosperity of the country and State of J&K. Besides, they will also pray for restoration of normal life, in flood ravaged Kerala.
On declining number of pilgrims during the second month of the yatra, Mahant Ji said that this year the number of pilgrims was higher than previous three years and every thing is happening with the will of Lord Shiva. He said during the 2012, highest number of six lakh pilgrims visited the holy cave.
He said it is not mandatory for how much time yatra runs but the main darshan is on Shravan Purnima. He said till date 2.80 lakh pilgrims have performed darshan in holy cave while up to the Vyas Purnima last month 2.50 lakh darshan in the cave shrine and after that the rush declined.
The holy mace which reached Pahalgam in the evening enroute to cave shrine will have a two day stay at Pahalgam and it will leave for Chandanwari from there on August 22. He said with a night halt at Chandanwari, the holy mace will leave for Sheshnag on August 23. Having a night halt at Sheshnag it will leave for Panjtarni -the last halting station enroute to holy cave on August 24, he added.
Mahant Ji said the holy mace will stay for two days i.e on August 24 and 25 at Panjtarni and leave early in the morning from Panjtarni to holy cave on Shravan Purnima falling on August 26. After performing the puja -archana in the cave shrine for the entire day in a traditional manner, the holy mace will start the return journey the same day in the evening towards Pahalgam and stay at Panjtarni for the night.
Earlier traditional puja -archana was performed at Sun temple Mattan by Mahant Deependra Giri and Sadhus. A large number of devotees had assembled there where day long Bajan Kirtan was also held by Shanti Lal Sidha and other devotees . The Martand Tirath Trust which manages the shrine had made all arrangements for the Sadhus and pilgrims . The Charri Mubarak was welcomed at Mattan Shrine by the president of the Trust Ashok Sidha, other members of the Trust and local administration.
The yatris were served with breakfast and lunch. The district and tehsil authorities had made elaborate arrangements for the pilgrims at the shrine.  It may be recalled that prior to turmoil in Kashmir valley, the holy mace used to stay at Mattan temple for two days and other shrines enroute for one night each but this itinerary was changed due to security reasons.
After leaving from Dashnami Akhara the holy mace entered the historic Durga Nag Temple under the foothills of Shankracharya Hill in Srinagar Kashmir and performed puja -archana there also. The Trust members led by Vijay Bakaya and Ravi Ji Bhat of Jeewan Sahib Trust received the holy mace.
On the occasion Jyotshi Omkar Nath Shastri performed puja archana by reciting Vedic hymns.
The holy mace enroute also paid obeisance at the Shiv temples of Pampore, Awantipora and Bijbehara before reaching Mattan. It also performed puja in Ganesh temple at Ganeshpora, Pahalgam in the evening.
Meanwhile, on the 54th day of darshan today 764 pilgrims paid obeisance to ice Lingam at holy cave of Swami Amarnath situated at an altitude of 3880 meters in deep Himalayas in South Kashmri district of Anantnag.
This was stated by an officer on yatra duty. He said till date 2,83,140 pilgrims have performed darshan in the cave shrine from twin tracks of Baltal and Chandanwari.
He said the yatra on both the routes progressed smoothly.