Kashmir’s Amarnath pilgrimage begins June 7

May 13th, 2009 - 5:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Amarnath Shrine Srinagar, May 13 (IANS) The annual pilgrimage to the Himalayan cave shrine in Kashmir, which was at the centre of a land row last summer, will begin June 7 and end Aug 5 this year, an official said Wednesday.
The temple trust headed by Governor N.N. Vohra has laid “due emphasis on the preservation and conservation of ecology and environment” of the pilgrimage route, said a spokesman of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB).

“A plan is also being currently implemented to clean base camp areas and action is underway to collect all plastic and solid wastes to ensure sanitary conditions and a clean environment,” the spokesman said.

The SASB manages the annual pilgrimage to the high altitude Amarnath shrine, which houses the ice stalagmite, an icon of Hindu lord Shiva. Hundreds of thousands of Hindus from all over India visit the cave shrine situated at an altitude of 4,175 meters.

The SASB is planning “a concerted campaign to prohibit the use of plastic bags” in the ecologically delicate areas, the spokesman said.

Vohra, who is the chairman of the temple board, took the decision on the pilgrimage dates after extensive aerial and on-ground surveys in the last two weeks.

“The registration of yatris (pilgrims), on both Pahalgam and Baltal routes, will commence May 20 in 110 designated branches of J&K Bank all over the country,” the spokesman said.

The SASB was at the centre of the Amarnath land row, which saw Hindu-majority Jammu ranged against the Muslim-dominated Kashmir Valley last year, over the allotment of forest land to the temple trust.

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