Amarnath Temple is a Hindu shrine located in the Pahalgam tehsil of the Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir, India. It is a cave situated at an altitude of 3,888 m (12,756 ft), about 168 km from Anantnag city, the district headquarters, 141 km (88 mi) from Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, reached through either Sonamarg or Pahalgam. It is an important shrine in Hinduism.

The cave, located in Sind Valley, is surrounded by glaciers, snowy mountains and is covered with snow most of the year, except for a short period in the summer, when it is open to pilgrims. In 1989, pilgrims numbered between 12,000 and 30,000. In 2011, the numbers reached a peak, crossing 6.3 lakh (630,000) pilgrims. In 2018 pilgrims numbered 2.85 lakh (285,000). The annual pilgrimage varies between 20 and 60 days.

The Amarnath cave, abode of the Mahamaya Shakti Pitha, is one of the 51 Shakti Pithas, the temples of the Indian subcontinent ...Read more

Amarnath Temple is a Hindu shrine located in the Pahalgam tehsil of the Anantnag district of Jammu and Kashmir, India. It is a cave situated at an altitude of 3,888 m (12,756 ft), about 168 km from Anantnag city, the district headquarters, 141 km (88 mi) from Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir, reached through either Sonamarg or Pahalgam. It is an important shrine in Hinduism.

The cave, located in Sind Valley, is surrounded by glaciers, snowy mountains and is covered with snow most of the year, except for a short period in the summer, when it is open to pilgrims. In 1989, pilgrims numbered between 12,000 and 30,000. In 2011, the numbers reached a peak, crossing 6.3 lakh (630,000) pilgrims. In 2018 pilgrims numbered 2.85 lakh (285,000). The annual pilgrimage varies between 20 and 60 days.

The Amarnath cave, abode of the Mahamaya Shakti Pitha, is one of the 51 Shakti Pithas, the temples of the Indian subcontinent that commemorate the location of the fallen body parts of the Hindu deity Sati.

Ancient history

The book Rajatarangini (Book VII v. 183) refers to Krishaanth or Amarnath. It is believed that in the 11th century CE, Queen Suryamati gifted trishulas, banalingas and other sacred emblems to this temple.[1] Rajavalipataka, begun by Prajna Bhatta, contains detailed references to the pilgrimage to Amarnath Cave Temple. In addition, there are further references to this pilgrimage in many other ancient texts.

Medieval history  Mughal painting depicting Amarnath, c. 1600

The cave and the Shivling find mention in Abu'l Fazl's 16th century work Ain-i-Akbari. According to him, the site attracted many pilgrims. He describes the waxing and waning of the lingam according to the seasons and the moon.[2] François Bernier, a French physician, accompanied Emperor Aurangzeb during his visit to Kashmir in 1663. In his book Travels in Mughal Empire, he provides an account of the places he visited, noting that he was "pursuing journey to a grotto full of wonderful congelations, two days journey from Sangsafed" when he "received intelligence that my Nawab felt very impatient and uneasy on account of my long absence." The "grotto" referenced in this passage is the Amarnath cave — as the editor of the second edition of the English translation of the book, Vincent A. Smith, makes clear in his introduction. He writes: "The grotto full of wonderful congelations is the Amarnath cave, where blocks of ice, stalagmites formed by dripping water from the roof are worshipped by many Hindus who resort here as images of Shiva...."[3]

Modern history  Painting of devotees in the Amarnath cave temple. Jammu, Pahari, circa mid-19th century

In 1895, pilgrims would first travel to Kheer Bhawani for a brief stop.[4] Sustained by free rations from the state, the pilgrims would then travel to Srinagar.[4] From Srinagar, in batches, the pilgrims would then head up Lidder Valley, stopping at locations for holy dips.[4] At Mach Bawan, local Hindus would join them. Maliks of Batok were responsible for the route during these years.[4] Sister Nivedita, in Notes of Some Wanderings with the Swami Vivekananda, writes of Swami Vivekananda's visit to the cave in 1898.[5]

Yatra suspensions and causes 2016: Kashmir unrest

The Amarnath pilgrimage was suspended in July 2016 due to the Kashmir unrest.[6] Some Sufis and Shias later demanded resumption of the Yatra. Kalbe Jawad, a Shia cleric and general secretary of Majlis-e-Ulama-e-Hind and Sufi cleric Hasnain Baqai expressed concern that the tradition had been suspended because of upheaval in Kashmir.[7]

2019: Threat of terrorist attack

The pilgrimage was suspended in August 2019 after the state government stated there was a threat of terrorist attacks. Similarly, the pilgrimage to Machail Mata was suspended as well.[8] However, it was also speculated that the Yatra suspension might have been linked to the revocation of the special status of Jammu and Kashmir.[9][10][11][12]

2020 and 2021: COVID-19 pandemic

The annual pilgrimage was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-19 pandemic.[13] On 22 April 2020, the Shri Amarnath Ji Shrine Board announced the suspension of the Yatra because of the COVID-19 pandemic in India. Later however it withdrew the press circular and announced cancellation of the suspension.[14] Lieutenant Governor G. C. Murmu said that a final decision would depend on future developments related to the pandemic.[15] In light of the pandemic, the union territory government on 4 July announced that only 500 people would be permitted road travel to the shrine and everyone entering Jammu and Kashmir would be tested for COVID-19, and quarantined until their reports came back negative.[16] The pilgrimage was later cancelled on 21 July due to the pandemic, with cases of coronavirus in the union territory increasing greatly since 1 July.[17] Facilities for viewing the prayer ceremony online were made available.[18]

The shrine board on 27 March 2022 decided to resume the pilgrimage after a gap of two years, starting from 30 June and lasting for 43 days, while following protocols to prevent the spread of COVID.[19]

2022: temporary suspension due to flash flood

On 8 July 2022, at least 16 people were killed, over 40 missing,[20] and dozens were injured while around 15000 pilgrims were stranded near the Amarnath Holy cave due to a flash flood triggered by a cloudburst near the Lidder Valley en route to the venerated cave.[21] The Amarnath Yatra was halted due to the flash flood on 8 July for 3 days.[22]

^ "Amarnath Yatra: In Search of Salvation". Shriamarnathyatra.net. Archived from the original on 17 June 2013. Retrieved 15 April 2013. ^ Natif, Mika, "Mughal men admiring the miraculous ice lingam at Amarnath", Aga Khan Museum ^ Mohini Qasba Raina (2013). Kashur The Kashmiri Speaking People. Partridge Publishing Singapore. p. 327. ISBN 978-1-4828-9945-0. Archived from the original on 21 December 2019. Retrieved 13 December 2018. ^ a b c d Lawrence 1895, p. 298-299. ^ Sister Nivedita, Notes of Some Wanderings with the Swami Vivekananda (1913), p. 148-150. ^ Tabassum, Huma, ed. (8 July 2017). "Amarnath Yatra Suspended from Jammu Due to Kashmir Situation". News18. PTI. Archived from the original on 8 October 2017. Retrieved 8 October 2017. ^ "Muslim group asks for reviving Amarnath Yatra". The Times of India. 17 July 2016. Archived from the original on 11 December 2018. Retrieved 27 December 2021. ^ "Don't Panic, Jammu & Kashmir Governor Tells Political Parties as Tourists and Pilgrims Leave Valley". News18. 3 August 2019. ^ Das, Shaswati; Bhaskar, Utpal (7 August 2019). "The events that led to Jammu and Kashmir losing its special status". Livemint. Archived from the original on 7 August 2019. Retrieved 9 May 2020. ^ Singh, Sumit Kumar (3 August 2019). "Amarnath yatris, tourists told to move out of J&K immediately". Daily News and Analysis (DNA). Archived from the original on 1 November 2019. Retrieved 9 May 2020. ^ "Ex-CMS Mehbooba Mufti and Omar Abdullah Detained, Shifted to Guest House from House Arrest". News18. 6 August 2019. Archived from the original on 28 November 2019. Retrieved 9 May 2020. ^ IANS (6 August 2019). "Kashmiris completely cut off as Modi govt revoked Article 370, declares Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory". National Herald. Retrieved 27 December 2021. ^ "After a gap of two years, Amarnath Yatra sets to begin tomorrow". Retrieved 29 June 2022. ^ "Coronavirus outbreak: Uncertainty over Amarnath yatra as SASB release announcing decision to cancel pilgrimage withdrawn". Deccan Herald. PTI. 22 April 2020. Archived from the original on 27 April 2020. Retrieved 9 May 2020. ^ "Decision on Amarnath Yatra after review of Covid-19 situation: J&K LG Murmu". Business Standard India. 26 April 2020. Archived from the original on 7 May 2020. Retrieved 9 May 2020. ^ Wani, Ashraf (5 July 2020). "Amarnath Yatra 2020: J&K administration allows 500 pilgrims per day". India Today. Retrieved 11 July 2020. ^ "Amarnath Yatra cancelled due to spike in coronavirus infections". Hindustan Times. 21 July 2020. Retrieved 22 July 2020. ^ "Amarnath Yatra 2021: Pilgrimage cancelled but devotees can watch live aarti online, check details". The Financial Express. 28 June 2021. Archived from the original on 28 June 2021. Retrieved 27 December 2021. ^ "Amarnath Yatra set to resume from 30 June; to last 43 days. Details here". Mint. 27 March 2022. Retrieved 5 April 2022. ^ Rashid, Hakeem Irfan. "Amarnath flash floods: 16 dead, 40 missing in ; yatra on hold". The Economic Times. Retrieved 17 July 2022. ^ "Backstory: Why Was the Media So Eager to Put the Amarnath Yatra Tragedy Behind Them?". The Wire. Retrieved 17 July 2022. ^ "Amarnath Yatra resumes 3 days after cloud burst; Administration rejects charge of ignoring flood risk". Financialexpress. 11 July 2022. Retrieved 17 July 2022.
Photographies by:
Gktambe at English Wikipedia - Public domain
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Gktambe at English Wikipedia - Public domain
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