Devotees leave for Kailash Yatra

Excelsior Correspondent
BHADARWAH, Aug 27: Amid tight security arrangements, hundreds of devotees converged at ancient Vasuki Nag temple here before leaving for Kailash mountains range in Doda district for the three-day pilgrimage.
The pilgrimage is considered as one of the toughest as pilgrims have to trek 21 km steep Kailash mountains range in Doda district to reach the 14,700 feet high holy ‘kund’ (lake), where devotees take a dip in the ice-cold water to take the blessings of the ‘serpent god’.
Despite the prevailing situation in the aftermath of abrogation of special status and bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir early this month, scores of devotees converged at the ancient temple, believed to be the house of Lord Vasuki Nag (serpent god) at Gatha to join the ‘Charri’ (Holy Mace) of Kailash Yatra, officials said.
They said the yatra will holy holly Kailash Kund on Wednesday and return to the temple next day, marking the end of the yatra.
“We have made elaborate security arrangements for this Yatra. Police and CRPF personnel have been deployed all along the route to provide foolproof security to the pilgrims,” Sub-divisional Police Officer, Bhadarwah, Aadil Rishu said.
He said the Army has sensitized all the high altitude reaches surrounding the yatra route.
Former MLC Naresh Kumar Gupta, State Janta Dal(S) chief Mast Nath Yogi, National Conference leader Shabir Ahmed Ganai, National Panthers Party leader Choudhary Mohammad Iqbal and president Sanatan Dharam Sabha, Bhadarwah, also joined the Charri.
Beside political leaders, Additional Deputy Commissioner Bhadarwah Ravi Kumar Bharti and SHO Shamim Ahmed were present to see off the pilgrims.
Ahead of abrogation of Article 370 on August 5, the State administration suspended the annual Amarnath pilgrimage in south Kashmir, Budha Amarnath yatra in Poonch and Machail Mata yatra in Kishtwar district.
In view of the confusions regarding holding of Kailash Yatra this year, the turnout of the devotees was much less compared to the previous years, the officials said.
However, they said large number of Muslims joined the devotees at the temple to send a message of communal harmony and brotherhood.
After abrogation of special status, restrictions including communication blockade was put in place across Jammu and Kashmir to prevent any backlash over the Government decision.
The life has returned to normal in Jammu region, while restrictions were also eased in Kashmir which, however, continued to be tense with shops and business establishments closed and public transport off the roads.
The landline telephones and broadband were restored in most parts of Jammu and Kashmir, while mobile internet services continued to remain suspended across the State.
The mobile phones are functional only in five districts of Jammu region.