Stranded yatris go sightseeing

Most of the Amarnath devotees stranded in Jammu due to bad weather conditions sound determined to visit the cave shrine in Kashmir’s Himalayas but many feel disappointed with the chances of not making it to the cave this year due to weather turbulence and paucity of time.
Stranded yatris go sightseeing
File Photo

Most of the Amarnath devotees stranded in Jammu due to bad weather conditions sound determined to visit the cave shrine in Kashmir's Himalayas but many feel disappointed with the chances of not making it to the cave this year due to weather turbulence and paucity of time. Authorities in Jammu have arranged sightseeing trips for the stranded pilgrims in order to keep them in good spirits. 

The pilgrimage has suffered frequent interruptions owning to bad weather and landslides along the Jammu-Srinagar national highway, ever since yatra's commencement on June 28, the. On Thursday the yatra remained suspended for the second consecutive day during its fifth halt in nine days. The pilgrimage was halted after four pilgrims died when a group was caught up in a landslide on way back from the shrine on Baltal route. 

Most of the pilgrims, who are presently camping in Yatri Bhawan, Baghwati Nagar or other government sponsored lodges in Jammu, seem little concerned with weather conditions and have vowed to perform the pilgrimage. 

Waiting for their turn to leave for Kashmir to perform darshan of Lord Shiva's Ice- Lingam inside the cave at a height of 13,500 feet in Himalayas, the pilgrims don't seem in a hurry to go back. They are waiting for weather to improve and are killing time along with their fellow pilgrims. However, some pilgrims are disappointed as they might not be able to perform darshan this year due to paucity of time and are mulling a journey back home. Chanting 'bum bum bhole' and 'jai shiv shanker', the pilgrims said they don't care about anything and will complete the yatra, "as per wishes of Shiva".  

"All this (weather) is happening as per Shiva's wish, why we worrying about it," said Satyendra Nath Tripathi, an Amarnath pilgrim, who came from Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh. "When we left home, we decided to perform darshan. No floods, storm or snowfall will come in our way," a visibly resolute Nath asserted. 

There is no let-up in energy and excitement of people.  Bhajans and Kirtans are going on throughout the day as well as nights.  "It's my first yatra. I came alone in Jammu to perform darshan, with a little worry of being alone but suspension comes as blessing for me," said Gokul Araya from Pouri, Uttarakhand.

"The time I'm spending in base camp helped me to interact with people and make new friends," he added.

The pilgrims also hailed tourism department for arranging sightseeing of Jammu city including visit to religious places like Bawe Wali Mata, Bahu Fort temple shrine, Ranbireshwar temple, Peer Kho caves, Mohmaya temples, Hari-ki-Paddi etc.  "For the five years I am coming to Jammu and Kashmir for Amarnath yatra but I rarely got any opportunity to visit the important spots of Jammu city. It was in my mind this time and I am blessed to witness other revered shrines of Jammu," said Jignash Patel from Ahmedabad, Gujarat. However, some pilgrims expressed disappointment over suspension of yatra.

"I am working in at a very important position in a reputed MNC. I got brief break for yatra only, which I supposed to complete in maximum four days but unfortunately from last two days I'm stationed at Jammu only," Mohit Sharma from Nodia, Uttar Pradesh. "I am very upset because have to go back without darshans," he added.

Earlier, traffic on the highway was resumed but yatra vehicles were not allowed as a precautionary measure due to slippery conditions on both Baltal and Pahalgam route. The yatra was halted after four pilgrims were killed in a landslide near Baltal.  The 60-day yatra is scheduled to conclude on August 26 coinciding with the 'Raksha Bandhan' festival.

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