Annual Hindu pilgrimage of Amarnath to start June 25

February 26th, 2012 - 1:05 am ICT by IANS  

Amarnath Shrine Jammu, Feb 25 (IANS) The annual Hindu pilgrimage to the Amarnath cave shrine of Lord Shiva, in the south Kashmir Himalayas, will commence on June 25 this year.

It will last till Aug 2, according to a spokesman of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) that manages the pilgrimage.

This decision was taken by the board at a meeting held in New Delhi Friday, the details of which were circulated to the media Saturday.

The logic behind having the pilgrimage for 39 days was the hostile weather conditions, which resulted in 107 deaths last year, when the pilgrimage commenced June 28 and lasted till Aug 13.

The cave shrine is situated at a height of 3,888 metres above sea level and has two routes leading to it, one from Pahalgam, about 100 km from Srinagar, and another from Baltal, 110 km from Srinagar.

The pilgrimage routes pass through high mountains and glaciers, involving a steep climb, and most of the track, despite clearance of snow, is slippery and full of slush, making it difficult for the pilgrims to negotiate the tortuous terrain.

A naturally made stalagmite of snow considered to be an ice “lingam” or icon of Lord Shiva is the main attraction of the cave shrine.

The myth goes that Lord Shiva had narrated the tale of immortality to his consort, the Goddess Parvati at the cave. Thus, it is known as “Amarnath”, which when translated means “Lord of immortality”.

More than 630,000 pilgrims visited the shrine last year, breaking all the previous records, essentially because of the facilities extended by the SASB.

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