Rush of Amarnath pilgrims on rise, over 16,000 perform darshan

Rituals of holy mace held at Pahalgam

Avtar Bhat

JAMMU, July 13: The recent cloudburst and flash floods have not dampened the spirits of the Amarnath yatris as over 16,000 pilgrims performed darshan of Ice Lingam in the holy cave of Baba Barfani by this evening while the silver mace of Lord Shiva was taken to Pahalgam by the Sadhus and devotees led by Mahant Deependra Giri Ji Maharaj its sole custodian for religious rituals from its abode Dashnami Akhara, Srinagar today.

Click here to watch video
According to an official of Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB), 16,457 pilgrims drawn from different parts of the country paid obeisance to naturally formed Ice Lingam in holy cave in the snow bound Himalayas in Anantnag district of South Kashmir by this evening. With this, total number of 1,44,457 pilgrims have performed darshan in holy cave since the 43 day long yatra started on June 30 this year.
The official said one lady pilgrim died after complaining chest pain at Sonamarg in Central Kashmir Ganderbal district today. She was shifted to PHC Kulan where doctors declared her as brought dead. The lady had returned from holy cave after performing darshan. With this, the total number of pilgrims who died during this year’s yatra has risen to 11. She has been identified as Kiran Chaturvedi wife of Daya Shanker Chaturvedi of Mumbai Maharashtra.
Official said 8302 pilgrims left for holy cave from Sheshnag camp while 3980 pilgrims proceeded from Nunwan base camp to cave shrine this morning. Besides, 9417 pilgrims left from Panchtarni to holy cave, he added.
He said 11,707 pilgrims left from base camp of Baltal to holy cave for darshan today. Among them, 10480 left by foot and 1227 by chopper. The official said 18,972 pilgrims were staying at Baltal base camp during last night.
He said 14,651 pilgrims reported at Baltal by this evening after coming from darshan at holy cave. Among them 13,462 came by foot while 1109 arrived by chopper, the official added.
The spokesman said holy mace of Lord Shiva was taken to Pahalgam in South Kashmir district of Anantnag for religious rituals today by the devotees and Sadhus led by Mahant Deependra Giri Ji Maharaj its sole custodian. Chanting Vedic hymn, ‘Bhoomi-Pujan’, ‘Navgrah-Pujan’, ‘Chhari-Pujan’ and ‘Dhawajarohan’ ceremonies were performed at Pahalgam today on the occasion of ‘Ashad-Purnima’ that marks the commencement of annual pilgrimage of Shri Amarnath Ji, traditionally and religiously.
Mahant Deependra Giri Ji said these are important rituals prior to main course of annual pilgrimage of Shri Amarnath Ji. The sound of conch shell reverberated the whole atmosphere. Sizeable number of Sadhus, pilgrims and numerous Kashmiri Pandit families from Martand including president, Martand Tirath, Ashok Sidha were present on the occasion and participated in the Pujan. Piyush Singla, Deputy Commissioner, Anantnag was also present. Hawan was also performed after Pujan. Langar was served to all present besides ‘Dakshina’.
Speaking on the occasion Mahant Deependra Giri Ji, said, “People of Jammu & Kashmir irrespective of their caste, creed or religion have been cooperating, assisting and encouraging the pilgrims and Sadhus who come here from across the country and even abroad for this annual pilgrimage”.
The arrangements made for this year’s annual pilgrimage are unparalleled, he added.
Prayers were also offered at historic Martand Temple, Mattan (Anantnag). When asked by a journalist to comment on the hardships faced by the locals in wake of traffic restrictions imposed by the Government during the pilgrimage, Mahant Ji said that it is good to take the precautionary measures but at the same time he suggested to devise a mechanism by which inconvenience caused to local population is minimized.
Mahant Deependra Giri Ji expressed his satisfaction after performing these important rituals at Pahalgam and complimented the UT administration for making arrangements for the event.
The event was, organized by ‘The True Trust’ founded by Mahant Deependra Giri Ji in year 2004.
Meanwhile amid tight security, the 14th batch of 6,400 Amarnath Yatra pilgrims today here left for twin base camps of the 3,880-metre-high holy cave shrine in south Kashmir Himalayas, officials said.
The yatra, which was suspended from Jammu due to bad weather on Sunday, resumed on Monday. A flash flood triggered by a cloudburst near the cave shrine on Friday afternoon has led to the death of at least 16 people.
A total of 6,415 pilgrims left Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas here in a convoy of 258 vehicles amid heavy security of CRPF, the officials said.
Of these, 4,545 were men, 1,744 women, 43 children, 79 sadhus and four sadhvis, they said.
The officials said 2,428 pilgrims heading for Baltal were the first to leave the Bhagwati Nagar camp in 88 vehicles around 3.30 am, followed by the second convoy of 170 vehicles carrying 3,987 pilgrims for Pahalgam at 4.30 am.
So far, over 1.40 lakh pilgrims have offered their prayers at the cave shrine, housing the naturally formed ice-Shivlingam, the officials said.