After several years, Amarnath yatra to last 2 months

Sanjeev Pargal

Governor N N Vohra presiding over the meeting of SASB in Jammu on Sunday.
Governor N N Vohra presiding over the meeting of SASB in Jammu on Sunday.

JAMMU, Jan 25: Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) today announced 59 days long annual pilgrimage to holy cave shrine of Shri Amarnath ji in South Kashmir Himalayas from July 2 to August 29.
This is after several years that yatra to Lord Shiva’s natural cave shrine in the Himalayas, located at a height of 12756 feet from the sea level in Anantnag district of Kashmir, will be of the duration of nearly two months, which was a long pending demand of the Sangh Parivar organizations.
A decision on 59 days long Amarnath yatra was taken by the SASB in its meeting held here today under the chairmanship of Governor NN Vohra, who happens to be chairman of the Shrine Board, official sources said.
Last year, the yatra duration was only 44 days but it was further reduced to just 40 days from traditional Pahalgam-Chandanwari track due to delay in clearance of snow from the track to make it fit for trekking by the pilgrims.
In 2014, the yatra duration was originally scheduled from June 28 to August 10. Though the pilgrimage had started on schedule from shorter Baltal track, it was delayed by four days and started on July 2 from Pahalgam route as snow was not cleared well in time.
In 2012, several Sangh Parivar organisations had threatened to start the yatra on their own before scheduled date of the SASB to make it 60 days affair. The organisations had been demanding every year that the yatra duration should be raised to 60 days but the SASB had not conceded the demand so far.
Former Governor Lt Gen (Retd) SK Sinha was on confrontational path with then Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed in 2004 when he had announced two month long yatra.
However, today’s SASB decision would satisfy the Sangh Parivar organisations as their long pending demand for two months yatra to Shri Amarnath shrine has been conceded.
As per the SASB decisions, at least 16,000 pilgrims can perform the yatra to the holy cave shrine of Lord Shiva per day. While 7500 pilgrims each can undertake yatra from Pahalgam and Baltal tracks respectively, about 1000 others would fly in the helicopters from both the routes per day.
With 59 days yatra, as many as 9.44 lakh pilgrims can have darshan of natural made Ice Lingam of Lord Shiva during this year’s annual pilgrimage.
In 2014, the pilgrimage was confined to 44 days while in 2013, it lasted 55 days. The yatra duration during 2012 was just 39 days while it lasted 46 days in 2011. While in 2011 and 2012, 6.35 lakh and 6.21 lakh pilgrims respectively had performed darshan, the number of yatris had come down to just 3.72 lakh in 2014.
The Board has decided that registration of the pilgrims would start on March 1.
Sources said Governor NN Vohra, who happens to be the Chairman of the SASB presided over the 28th Board meeting held here at the Raj Bhavan.
The Board members present in the meeting included Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, Pt. Bhajan Sopori, Prof. Ved Kumari Ghai, Vijay Dhar, D C Raina and Dr Chander Mouli Raina. Besides Rakesh K Gupta, Principal Secretary to Governor and Chief Executive Officer of the Board and Preet Pal Singh, Additional CEO attended the meeting.
Regarding duration and date of commencement of Yatra 2015, an official handout said the Board relied upon the approach set out by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Committee, which had been constituted to advise the Board regarding the duration and schedule of future yatras.
The Board noted that during Yatra 2014 there was heavy snow accumulation on the Chandanwari – holy cave track, particularly on Sheshnag – Panjtarni stretch, which had delayed the commencement of yatra on the Pahalgam route, which could finally start only from July 2 as against June 28 from Baltal.
Keeping in view the safety and security of the pilgrims, the Board decided that Yatra 2015 shall commence on July 2 this year, an auspicious day of Purshotam Purnima as per the Hindu calendar and conclude on Shravan Purnima (Raksha Bandhan) on August 29, 2015.
On this basis, the Yatra this year shall be of 59 days duration. It was decided that the CEO shall arrange a special pooja on Jyesth Purnima, on June 2, 2015. The pooja shall, as possible, take place at any suitable location in the yatra area to invoke the blessings of Lord Shiva for the smooth and safe conduct of the pilgrimage.
“Considering the present carrying capacity of the tracks and other available infrastructure in the Yatra area, the Board decided that 7,500 Yatris, excluding Yatris who would travel by helicopters to Panjtarni, would be allowed to register for Yatra-2015 on per day per route basis. On this basis, there would be about 16000 pilgrims on the tracks every day,” the handout said.
The Board directed that the CEO SASB should frequently publicize that the intending yatris must furnish the prescribed Compulsory Health Certificate, issued by the authorized Doctors/ Medical Institutes, before seeking registration for the yatra. The CEO informed that all States and Union Territories (UTs) have been asked to furnish a list of Doctors/ Institutes who would be authorized to issue Health Certificates to the medically fit applicants.
The lists of the nominated Doctors/ Institutes shall be available on the Board’s website –
The CEO would intensively publicize, through print and electronic media, the registration procedure, requirement of Compulsory Health Certificate to obtain registration, details of Doctors/ Institutes authorized to issue Compulsory Health Certificates, Do’s and Don’ts to be followed by the yatris during the course of yatra and health advisories to prevent yatris from getting afflicted with serious illnesses.
“The awareness campaign would be launched through the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting,” the handout said.
The Board reviewed the Action Plan, which has been drawn up for the conduct of Yatra 2015, particularly the arrangements being made for providing healthcare and sanitation facilities to the Yatris and the measures being taken to preserve the environment of the yatra area.


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