Undeterred by Baltal tragedy, pilgrims continue to throng Amarnath

Undaunted by deadly flash floods that have claimed at least 16 lives in Baltal, devotees packed the Amarnath Yatra base camp in Jammu on Saturday with a “high degree of enthusiasm and devotion” for their journey to the shrine of the cave located at a height of 3,880 meters in the southern Himalayas of Kashmir.

Expressing sorrow over the tragedy that occurred on Friday, the pilgrims said they are not afraid as they have full faith in Lord Shiva, adding that it would be a great privilege for them to die in the god’s abode.

The annual 43-day pilgrimage began on June 30 from twin routes: the 48 km traditional route from Nunwan in Pahalgam in Anantnag in southern Kashmir and the shorter but steep 14 km Baltal route in Ganderbal district in central Kashmir.

More than a lakh of pilgrims have paid homage at the cave shrine as the yatra is scheduled to end on August 11 on the occasion of Raksha Bandhan.

“We arrived in Jammu on Saturday. We are not afraid. We have come here taking the name of Lord Shiva. If the god takes our life here, we will accept it. But we have come to have darshan of Bholenath and nothing can stop us.” to do that,” said Anantajit, who came with his wife and his two sons from Tripura.

Pointing out that those who have been born will also have to die one day, he said, “If death occurs in Shiva’s abode, it would be the most merciful thing that could happen to someone.”

Singing “Bam Bam Bhole”, “Har Har Mahadev” and “Bholenath Ki Jai”, a group of 60 enthusiastic pilgrims from Rajkot in Gujrat entered the Bhagwati Nagar base camp here to continue their journey to the twin camps of Pahalgam and Baltal on Sunday.

“We have no fear in our hearts and minds. Whether there is a downpour or flash floods, we will go to Amarnath with the blessings of Bholenath. We are excited to have the ice lingam darshan as we were unable to visit the shrine for the last two years due to COVID-19,” said Surinder Singh from Kanpur.

More than 6,000 pilgrims have come to Jammu from various parts of the country for their journey to Kashmir to pay homage at the cave shrine. A strong rush was seen at registration desks, token centers and accommodation centers, in addition to the base camp in Jammu.

The sanctuary houses an ice stalagmite structure called a “lingam” that waxes and wanes with the phases of the moon. Devotees believe that the “lingam” symbolizes the mythical powers of Shiva.

Flash floods triggered by heavy rains failed to alter the religious fervor and devotional mood in Jammu, officials said.

“Hundreds of pilgrims without fear and with great enthusiasm are arriving. There has been no drop in pilgrim arrivals,” an official said.

More than 3.42 lakh pilgrims paid homage at the shrine from July 1 to August 1, 2019, before the Center canceled the pilgrimage midway, before the abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution and the bifurcation of the former state of Jammu and Kashmir in the Union. territories.

At least 16 people were killed, while 15,000 pilgrims, stranded near the holy cave due to flash floods, were moved to the lower Panjtarni base camp, officials said.

A massive operation is underway to track down the missing people.

(Only the headline and image in this report may have been modified by Business Standard staff; all other content is auto-generated from a syndicated source.)

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