At a height of 13000s ft in Lidder Valley of Kashmir division, resides one of the many abodes of Lord Shiv, the Shri Amarnath. The abode has picturesque environs enveloped by snow clad mountains, lush green forests and meadows. It’s among the major pilgrimage sites for Hindus across the globe. Albeit, it remains inaccessible throughout year except for few months in summer, for the holy pilgrimage to set in for twenty to sixty days.
After remaining suspended for Covid-19 reasons, this year sees the resumption of the pilgrimage amid the security concerns. Although, Shri Amanath Shrine Board, the nodal agency to take care of the pilgrimage, along with Manoj Sinha led administration has taken up the task to make the pilgrimage safe and secure, it remains to be seen how the things go about. The daunting terrain accompanied by inclement weather conditions is there to dent the logistical preparedness, but SASB and Jammu and Kashmir administration surly has its plans to deal with the emerging situations. The preparedness of the administration along with the security apparatus seems encouraging; this is affirmed by Apurva Chandra, Secretary I &B when he said, This will be the best ever Yatra.
The administration is expecting to host about 8 lac pilgrims this year. To oversee the proceeding the Lieutenant Governor chaired the 41st Board meeting of SASB in March. During the meeting, it was decided that this year pilgrimage will be held for 43 days from June 30 to August 11. The proactive approach of the LG administration is very evident from the outcome of various timely and elaborate detailing of problems en-route the cave. The solutions have been well thought by keeping in view every aspect of the pilgrimage as well as the environmental safeguards and safety concerns of the pilgrims.
Introduction of Radio Frequency Identification tags to track the movement of pilgrims highlights the concern the administration has shown to ensure the safety of pilgrims. These RFID tags will be provided to the pilgrims at all entry points. Besides this air services have been pressed to facilitate the pilgrims. The launch of online helicopter booking service by the LG on June 16th 2022 has not only made the booking process easy, but also ensured that the pilgrimage experience is unmatched for the devotes. This is happening for the first time that the devotees can travel directly from Srinagar to Panchtarni or Srinagar to Neelgrath and complete the pilgrimage within a day.
The administration alongside SASB has also made efforts to digitise the pilgrimage. Live telecast of the pilgrimage and Shri Amarnath will also be available to those who wish to participate online. The facilities will be made available on the SASB app. A well designed and sustained media campaign via social media platforms, especially YouTube to showcase the spiritual radiance of the pilgrimage has been launched. There are introductory, preparatory and other videos about the precautions one has to take on way to the holy cave.
Special emphasis has been laid on providing state of the art healthcare facilities to pilgrims and logistics providers. Augmented communication channels with modern and advanced upgrades, besides the use of best in house technological measures have been put in place to achieve maximum synergetic responses to any eventualities.
From ensuring world-class sanitation infrastructure for the pilgrims to enabling live telecast of morning and evening prayers for devotees across the globe, this year’s preparatory work speaks volumes about the in-depth outreach program of the administration for the successful commencement of the pilgrimage.
Along with making sure that Pilgrims experiences best in the Himalayas, theres emphasis to ensure their safe return so as to give religious tourism sector the much needed boost post the Covid -19.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.