Amarnath Yatra concludes on Raksha Bandhan Day
Srinagar: The 40-day annual Amarnath Yathra concluded on Monday, with 2.60 lakh pilgrims offering prayers. The Amarnath cave shrine in South Kashmir Himalayas is visited by lakhs of yatris every year.
The pilgrimage concludes on Rakhi festival or Raksha Bandhan every year. This year the pilgrims braved to visit the shrine despite a terror attack on a bus in which eight Gujarati devotees died.
Meanwhile, the number of pilgrims that visited the shrine this year is the second lowest in the past 14 years. Last year, only 2.2-lakh pilgrims visited the shrine due to the unrest in the valley after killing of terrorist Burhan Wani.
The holy mace of Lord Shiva — Chhari Mubarak — carried by a group of ‘sadhus’ and devotees led by its custodian Mahant Deepindra Giri, arrived at the holy cave in the early hours for the day-long prayers, officials of the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) said.
The group of sadhus and devotees carrying the Chhari Mubarak trekked 42 kms from Pahalgam to reach the shrine with night halts at Chandanwari, Seshnag and Panchtaranj. After performing the rituals at the sanctum sanctorum, the holy mace would start the return journey before dusk later today.
While the holy shrine will be closed for darshan from Monday, puja and visarjan (immersion) ceremonies for the journey of Chhari Mubarak would be performed on the banks of Lidder River in Pahalgam on 9 August. It will be followed by a traditional open kitchen, the last ritual of the pilgrimage.
The holy mace would return to its abode at Amareshwar Temple at Dashnami Akhara the same day, the officials said.
The yatra commenced from Pahalgam and Baltal routes amidst tight security arrangements on June 29.
Despite the tight security arrangement in place for the yatra, Lashkar-e- Taiba militants managed to target a bus full of pilgrims on July 10. While eight of them died, 21 were injured in the attack.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Hindus, mostly from other states, made a beeline for the Shankaracharya Temple atop the Zabarwan Hills to take part in prayers to mark the culmination of yatras.