Are you one of those who feels that it is enough to know places on a superficial level? I wouldn’t blame you, being guilty myself of doing that. But as they say, “We are made by History”. Treading upon the on going Amarnath Yatra, got me engrossed in the pictures and videos emerging. Amidst the terror attack scare and the ban on civilian vehicles on the route, I have been fascinated and curious about whether the yatra is even worth the risk…
Why do the pilgrims put their lives at risk for a few mere moments in the cave? Why the hype? Is it just a religious belief? Amarnath Yatra’s hype got me dredging… The repetitive shouts of ‘Bum Bum Bhole’ and ‘Jai Bholenath’, the hazardous terrain, the risk of life…. is too overbearing to ignore!
In Lord Shiva’s Footsteps….. Literally!
The legend says that Lord Shiva took Parvati to the hill cave to disclose the secret of immortality. The route to the cave is astonishingly intriguing…. Pahalgam-Chandanbadi-Pissu Top-Sheshnag Lake-Mahagun Hills-Panjitarni. The intriguing bit is, that en route the cave, Shiva had to forego his closest companions as the secret was not to be revealed to any other soul!
Pahalgam around 96 kms from the cave is said to be the first spot where Lord Shiva stopped to rest. He left his bull Nandi there. He left his moon around 16 kms from Pahalgam and hence the place is named as Chandanbadi. Next, you will have to pass through Pissu Top. It is said that Pissu Top is made of the pile of dead bodies of demons after a fight between God and Demons occurred to reach the cave top.
Shiva left his snake known as Sheshnag in a lake which is now called as Sheshnag Lake. The icy blue water of the lake amidst snow-clad mountains is a sight to behold! Shiva, left Lord Ganesha in Mahagun hills on the way to Amarnath. Finally, he left the 5 life elements air, water, fire, earth and sky at Panjtarni.
Who Heard It?
When Lord Shiva was telling the secret of immortality to Goddess Parvati, there was no living being in the Amarnath Cave except a pigeon’s egg. It is said that the pair of pigeons born from the egg has become immortal and can be seen in the cave even now.
Magical Or Myth?
You can find three naturally formed Lingas of ice in the Amarnath cave, each representing Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvathi and Lord Ganesha. The cave is more than 5000 years old and since found, the Lingas wax and wane with Lunar Cycle which is considered a miracle of nature and the power of Lord Shiva.
There is another fact that has perplexed even scientists! There is a source of water falling close to Shiva Linga which is still not traced after countless efforts from scientists from around the world! Logic defied….
Not Easy…. But They Have You Covered!
The Amarnath Yatra Route is one of the harshest pilgrim routes in India and takes a toll on many lives every year. This year, The Amarnath Yatra started on 1 July 2019 and will finish on 15 August 2019. The 46-day Yatra will accommodate over 3.5 lakh pilgrims!
- To minimize the losses, a compulsory health check-up is carried out for all pilgrims.
- There have been environmental concerns, due to which NGT passed directions and declared the area near the cave as a ‘silence zone’.
- The route is dotted with Langars or Community kitchens set up by various local communities.
- With technically develop processes as Barcoded tickets, Registrations, Radio Frequency Identification, Satellite monitoring and Drones, the security cover seems to be in place.
- Barcoding has kept the number of people trekking to and fro the pilgrimage, in check.
- The vehicles going to and fro have also been tagged with Radio Frequency Identification detection to track every vehicle.
- For safety reasons, children below 13 years, elderly aged above 75 years and ladies more than 6 weeks pregnant are not allowed to take this spiritual journey.
- There are stalls and resting camps (pandals) with a continuous supply of food.
- Helicopter services are available from both Pahalgam and Baltal till Panchtarni. From there, you can either trek up to the cave or hire ponies or palkis.
- The successful organization of the Yatra is majorly done by Shri Amarnath Yatra trust which provides facilities like power supply, telecommunication, firewood etc.
- All pilgrims/travellers planning to avail helicopter services for Amarnath Yatra are required to obtain a medical fitness certificate from a doctor authorized by SASB (Amarnath Shrine Board), which certifies your fitness for the physically tough journey.
- Other Important documents you must have during the Yatra include Voter ID, Driving License, and Passport etc for your identity.
Lessons Learnt ….
Beyond the factual plays, what fascinates me the most is the legend that tells the tale of why Lord Shiva encountered all challenges…. just to let Parvati in on a secret that she demanded. Companionship and respect for his spouse!
Going through all those hurdles, foregoing companions, even his son, Ganesha, to maintain secrecy, Shiva is the epitome of integrity.
Something that Shiva had to abandon his most prized possessions and companions for, he was willing to share with his wife Parvati……. Trust!
And well… it isn’t always religious beliefs that must inspire a pilgrimage…. the enthralment and charm of the history or myth behind it can lend a deeper insight!
Jai Bhole Nath!