For the local Muslims who are the major service providers to it, the AmarnathYatra means more than doing a business and earning livelihood.
Braving the difficult trek, rains, and hot and humid weather conditions en route the shrine cave, the local services provides including pony operators and palanquin bearers manage to provide safe and comfortable journey to the Amarnath pilgrims.
The Kashmiri Muslims make a major part of the service providers facilitating the annual Hindu pilgrimage every year.
Hundreds of locals every year also put up stalls at the base camps at Baltal in Central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district and Pahalgam in south Kashmir, offering different kinds of materials for the pilgrims.
Besides providing business to the locals, the AmarnathYatra also showcases the bond between Kashmiris and the pilgrims.
“We are coming here for years now to provide services to the pilgrims who reach base camp and then leave for the holy cave for Darshan,” Mohammad Akbar, a local service provider said, adding that cutting across the religious lines “we being hosts ensure that our guests don’t face any inconvenience.”
“The yatra doesn’t mean only business for us. Besides earning our livelihood, it gives us an opportunity to serve and help the people of other religion which gives us satisfaction” another local service provider said.
The Amarnath pilgrims also have all praise for the hospitality and ‘helping nature’ of the Kashmiri people.
Talking to Greater Kashmir many pilgrims said they were very enthusiastic about the yatra and had no fear at all in their mind.
“There is no fear in our mind, the arrangements by the government and the administration here are satisfying, and the locals are supportive,” said Kamal Mishra, a pilgrim from Ahmedabad.
While sharing his views on the role of Muslims during Amarnathyatra, a pilgrim from Delhi, Mukesh Kumar, said: “It is all due to the cooperation and support of the Muslim community that this religious journey has been successful.” He said the Muslims have played an important role by providing all kinds of services and other necessities to the pilgrims all along the route to the cave.
From the base camp Baltal, the shorter route to the shrine cave is about 14 km. It is very steep and at places quite difficult to climb.
It starts from Baltal and passes through Domial, Bararimarg, and Sangam and finally reaches the cave shrine.
The pilgrims reach the cave shrine by foot or by chopper with majority among them preferring ponies (horses) or palanquin (a kind of a bed carried by four people on four sides). In addition to it, the civil and police administration run largely by Muslim officers work tirelessly to ensure successful and peaceful annual Amarnath pilgrimage.
The Amarnath 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.
The state government makes all the required arrangements including medical facilities, water, electricity, ration, etc. to ensure successful pilgrimage.