Amarnath pilgrims can start registering May 10May 3rd, 2011 - 3:33 pm ICT by IANS
Jammu, May 3 (IANS) The stage is being set for the annual pilgrimage to the cave shrine of Amarnath in Jammu and Kashmir, with the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) starting the registration process from May 10.
Countrywide internet registration for the pilgrimage is a new feature this year.
The pilgrimage is to begin June 29 and go on till Aug 13, the day Hindus celebrate the Raksha Bandhan festival.
The registration of pilgrims is mandatory because of the mountainous tracks which the pilgrims have to traverse before reaching the cave shrine devoted to Lord Shiva in south Kashmir.
Every year a natural ice stalagmite, better known as Shivlingam, is formed in the cave shrine, and the devotees see that as an icon of Lord Shiva and those who have a glimpse of it feel blessed.
The shrine is located at a height of 13,500 ft above sea level.
This time the shrine board will start the registration of pilgrims for both the routes, the traditional route via Chandanwari in south Kashmir, about 112 km from the capital city of Srinagar, and the Baltal route, a shorter stretch that takes off 110 km north of Srinagar.
“We have authorised 149 branches of different banks for registration across the country,” R.K. Goyal, CEO of SASB, said in a release here Tuesday.
This is the first time the SASB has introduced the internet-based registration system countrywide, Goyal said. SASB has also provided, at the cost of the shrine board, an accident insurance cover of Rs.1 lakh.
Last year, nearly half a million pilgrims had visited the shrine. This year the number is expected to be on the higher side because of the relative calm in the valley compared to last year when several months of stone throwing and clashes with the security forces had resulted in a drop in tourists and pilgrims into the valley.
The shrine board is also laying special emphasis on the preservation of the ecology and environment of the Yatra area.
A detailed action plan has been drawn up, under the expert guidance of Sunita Narain, eminent environmentalist and member of the Shrine Board, to maintain cleanliness at the base camps in Baltal and Nunwan and en route the holy cave.
A concerted campaign has been launched to effectively prohibit the use of plastic bags/materials.
-Indo-Asian News Service
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