AMARNATH YATRA DAY 2 | Baltal base camp wears festive look; abuzz with devotional fervour

Better facilities enroute enthuse pilgrims; administration, locals earn laurels
 AMARNATH YATRA DAY 2 | Baltal base camp wears festive look; abuzz with devotional fervour
Representational Pic

Baltal (Ganderbal), July 1: With the beginning of the Amarnath yatra, the Baltal base camp in Ganderbal district of central Kashmir is wearing a festive look.

The base camp at Baltal in Ganderbal district on the banks of the nallah Sindh remains abuzz with activity round the clock.

Around midnight daily, the huge sprawling camp – the starting point, guarded heavily by security forces, transforms into a bustling area. Pilgrims from various parts of the country board their buses from Jammu and travel on the 300-km-long Srinagar-Jammu National Highway to reach Baltal and Pahalgam base camps in south Kashmir.

Once one reaches Baltal base camp after passing through a couple of checking points, one comes across the festive fervour. Well-lit and decorated ‘langars’ with loudspeakers blaring bhajans greet the visitors. At the base camp there is a full-fledged market run by Muslims as well as non Muslims selling 'Puja Samagri’ and other stuff.

The fearlessness, the enthusiasm of pilgrims can be seen during their arrival and stay at base camps, as the whole area reverberates with the chants of ‘Bam Bam Bhole.’ The pilgrims are seen freely moving around the base camp, busy clicking pictures, buying different kinds of things available in the market. The langars (community kitchens) set up for the yatris see a huge rush.

Talking to Greater Kashmir, many pilgrims said that they were very enthusiastic about the yatra, adding that the arrangements made by the authorities were satisfactory. “There is no fear in our mind, the arrangements by the government and the local administration here are satisfying. The locals are supporting us. No one can disrupt our faith in pilgrimage,” said Kamal Mishra, a pilgrim from Ahmedabad.

“With every passing year, the facilities and arrangements for the pilgrims have been improving. The Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) and UT administration have made the pilgrimage more comfortable and smooth,” a group of yatris said.

Once one leaves the base camp to cave shrine, the shorter route to it (cave shrine) is just about 14 km long, but has a very steep gradient and is quite difficult to climb. It starts from Baltal and passes through Domail, Barari, and Sangam to reach the holy cave.

The pilgrims can reach the cave shrine on foot or by chopper while a majority of the pilgrims prefer pony (horses) or palanquins (a kind of a bed carried by four people on four sides). Local Muslims are seen carrying pilgrims either on ponies or upon their shoulders.

The treacherous route to the holy cave is abuzz with activity of Yatris, chanting “Jai Bhole” with Kashmiri Muslims simultaneously advising pedestrians’ trains to stick to the hill end and not move on the valley end lest they fall down. Enroute one also finds many tea stalls with photographs of Shiv Lingam on the hoarding of almost every shop.

Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board, civil and police administration have made all the arrangements for the annual yatra. Besides heightened security arrangements have been made to ensure a peaceful yatra.

Official sources told Greater Kashmir, “The Lieutenant Governor Jammu and Kashmir Manoj Sinha is personally monitoring the Yatra.”

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