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Current Affairs

Amarnath Yatra

Date: 30 March 2022 Tags: Religions

Issue

The Amarnath Yatra for this year will begin in June 30. It will take place in Himalayas of South Kashmir.

 

Background

The Covid-19 pandemic had forced the pilgrimage to be suspended for two continuous years.

 

Details

  • The Amarnath Yatra is a 56-day pilgrimage to the cave shrine of Lord Shiva high up in the Himalayas.

  • Thousands of pilgrims make the trek up to the shrine each year. It is one of the most revered pilgrimages in India.

 

Legend of Amarnath

 The legend says that Lord Shiva decided to tell goddess Parvati the secret of his immortality (Amar Katha) in the ice cave in Amarnath.

 

Location

  • The cave housing the Shiva lingam is located 3,888 metres above sea level, and can be reached only on foot or by pony. 

  • Pilgrims can take routes to reach the cave. One is 46km from Pahalgam and other is 16 km from Baltal through a steep mountainous trek.

 

Features

  • The lingam is formed by a trickle of water from a cleft in the roof of the cave, which freezes subsequently to get the shape.

  • The Shiva lingam attains full size in the month of May every year and by the month of August, it is just a few feet in height.

 

Discovery of cave

  • The cave was discovered by a Muslim shepherd named Buta Malik in 1850. He found the cave when he had taken his goats high up in the mountains for grazing.

  • For years together, the Buta Malik family remained the traditional custodian of the shrine, along with Hindu priests from the Dashnami Akhara and Purohit Sabha Mattan.

  • There are two smaller ice structures beside the Shiva lingam, which represents goddess Parvati and Lord Ganesh.

 

Threats to yatra

  • The first such attack on the yatra took place in 2000 when Amarnath yatris were targeted in Pahalgam, which led to death of 17 pilgrims. 

  • Over the years, many pilgrims were killed in small and big attacks by separatists and terrorists. The latest such incident took place in 2017 on a pilgrim bus.

  • Since 1990, 53 pilgrims had been killed and 167 injured in various attacks on Amarnath yatris.