Fresh batches of yatris leave for holy cave, over 3.15 lakh pay obeisance

SRINAGAR : Fresh batches of pilgrims, including women, children and sadhus, left Baltal and Nunwan Pahalgam base camps for the holy cave shrine in south Kashmir Himalayas, where over 3.15 lakh yatris have paid obeisance since July 2 when the annual pilgrimage commenced.

However, following closure of the Sonamarg-Baltal road due landslides, majority of pilgrims at Sumbal and Manigam transit camps could not reach Baltal base camp and only yatris who had reached there covering the distance on foot left for the shrine early this morning.

Meanwhile, Chhari Mubarak, the holy Silver Mace of Lord Shiva was taken to Pahalgam, where Bhoomi-Pujan, Navgrah-Pujan, Chhari-Pujan and Dhawajarohan ceremonies were performed on the occasion of Vyas-Purnima that marks the commencement of annual pilgrimage.

These are important rituals prior to main course of annual pilgrimage. The silver Mace later returned to Deshnami Akhara in Srinagar in the evening after pujan at historic Martand temple Mattan in Anantnag.

A Yatra Control Room (YCR) official told that 3,294 pilgrims paid obeisance at the cave shrine yesterday. With this, a total of 3,15,284 had darshan of the self-made Ice-Shivlingam since the commencement of the pilgrimage from July 2. The annual yatra will conclude on August 29 on Raksha Bandhan.

He said about 400 yatris, including women, sadhus and children, left Baltal base camp for the cave shrine early this morning. The pilgrims are expected to reach the cave shrine this afternoon after covering the 16 km-long track on foot. However, due to closure of the Sonamarg- Baltal road, pilgrims, who had reached Sumbal and Manigam transit camps, remained stranded there. The road has since been opened this morning.

Similarly, about 15,00 pilgrims, who had darshan at the cave shrine also started their return journey to base camp this morning after night halt there.

Official said about 700 pilgrims also left Nunwan Pahalgam base camp for next halting station Chandanwari early this morning.

Similarly, pilgrims, who had night halt at Chandanwari, the last motorable halting station and other places, also started their onward journey towards the cave shrine.

Members of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) have expressed concern over the recurring stoppages of the pilgrimage following blockage of Sonamarg-Baltal road due to landslides and mud slides.

An official spokesperson said here today that Governor N N Vohra, who is also chairman of the SASB, chaired 29th board meeting here which was attended by Dr (Prof) Ved Kumari Ghai, Dr Devi Prasad Shetty, Ms Sunita Narain, Mr Vijay Dhar, Dr Chander Mouli Raina, Pt Bhajan Sopori, and Mr D C Raina, and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SASB P K Tripathi, Additional CEO Jitendra Kumar Singh.

The Governor called for sustained efforts to further improve the facilities provided to the pilgrims undertaking the pilgrimage.

The members expressed concern over the recurring stoppages of the pilgrimage due to blockage of Sonamarg-Baltal road due to landslides and mud slides following cloudbursts on this route and, in this context, stressed the importance of a more advanced weather forecasting system being set up in Kashmir.

Mr Tripathi made a detailed presentation on various important aspects of Yatra 2015, highlighting the initiatives taken for bringing about progressive improvements in the logistical and other arrangements for the pilgrimage.

While discussing the arrangements made for provision of health care facilities, members were informed that standing orders have been issued   for any pilgrim or service provider who took seriously ill in the Yatra area to be airlifted to Srinagar, at the Shrine Board’s cost and provided the best available medical treatment.

The members suggested that the CEO should also explore the possibility of medical care being provided during aerial evacuation of the sick person.

The CEO also informed that, as directed by Mr Vohra, the Camp Directors were organising the cremation of every person who died in the Yatra and providing financial support to the next of kin for the by air transportation of the body to the home town of the deceased, in all cases where the bodies were not cremated here.

The Board also deliberated on Advance Registration Quota, On-Spot Registration and utilization of registration quota till date. (AGENCIES)



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