Amarnath yatra progressing smoothly, Chhari-Mubarak to leave for cave tomorrow

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Pilgrimage to the holy Amarnath cave shrine in south Kashmir Himalayas was progressing smoothly with fresh batches of pilgrims leaving Baltal and Nunwan Pahalgam base camps this morning for the sanctum sanctorum.
Meanwhile, Chhari-Mubarak, the holy Silver Mace of Lord Shiva, will leave for the cave shrine from Amreshwar temple in the heart of the city tomorrow, when separatist organisations have called for “Referendum March” to historic Lal Chowk, the nerve centre of the summer capital.
Pilgrimage was going on smoothly though the number of yatris had dropped considerably during the past few weeks mainly due to unrest, official sources said today.
The weather is pleasant on both traditional Pahalgam and shortest Baltal tracks, they added.
About 50 pilgrims have paid obeisance at the cave shrine since early this morning.
A yatra official said on the 41st day of pilgrimage yesterday, only 197 yatris, the lowest so far, paid obeisance at the Holy Cave.
With this, a total of 2,19,294 yatris had paid obeisance at the holy cave since the commencement of the 48-day-long annual pilgrimage from July 2. The annual yatra will conclude on August 18 when the Chhari Mubarak will be taken inside the cave shrine for final ‘darshan’.
He said 73 pilgrims, including women and sadhus, left Baltal base camp till 0800 hrs for the cave shrine.
The yatris are likely to reach their destination and pay obeisance this afternoon after covering the 14-km-long hilly track on foot. However, some pilgrims prefer to cover the distance on horseback while others hire ‘palkis’ or ‘dadis’ to reach the shrine.
Meanwhile, pilgrims who had paid obeisance yesterday started return journey towards the Baltal base camp early this morning after overnight stay at cave shrine.
A fresh batch of yatris also left Nunwan Pahalgam base camp this morning for Chandanwari, which can be reached by transport. However, some pilgrims, particularly sadhus, prefer to cover the distance on foot.
Meanwhile, pilgrims who had night halt at Chandanwari and other halting stations on the traditional route have also started their foot journey towards the cave shrine this morning.
According to Mahant Deependra Giri, custodian of the Chhari Mubarak, the holy Mace will leave Amreshwar temple, Akhara Building, Budshah Chowk, tomorrow morning for the cave shrine.
However, “Chhari-Pujan” associated with annual Amarnath yatra, was performed on August 7 evening.
This was an important ritual to be performed traditionally on ‘Nag-Panchami’ (Shravan Shukla Paksha Panchmi) before leaving for the main course of pilgrimage.
In the pre 90s, sadhus carrying Chhari used to start their journey on foot for the holy cave in south Kashmir Himalayas immediately after this pujan. Having night halts at Pampore, Bijbehara, Anantnag, Martand, Aishmuquam, Pahalgam, Chandanwari, Sheshnag and Panjtarni, the Chhari-Mubarak would reach Holy Cave of Amarnathi on ‘Shravan-Purnima’ the ‘Raksha-Bandhan’ day.
However, after 90s, the Chhari is being taken in a vehicle to Pahalgam after brief halts at different places on way.
This year, it will leave tomorrow from Dashnami Akhara, to reach Holy cave on ‘Shravan-Purnima’ that falls on August 18.
En-route to Pahalgam for first night halt, pujan shall be performed at Sureshwar Temple Srinagar, Shiv Temple Pampore, Shiv Temple Bijbehara, Martand Tirth Mattan and Ganesh Temple Ganesbal across the river lidder. Thereafter, it shall make night halts at Chandanwari on August 15, Sheshnag on August 16 and Panjtarani on August 17.
However, on August 18, Chhari-Mubarak shall proceed from Panjtarni to the holy shrine situated at an altitude of 13,500 feet from the sea level for Darshan and Pujan.
The Chhari will start return journey same evening through traditional route.

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