Amarnath terror attack: Importance of the Yatra

In 1994, Pakistan-based Harkat ul Ansar said they would not allow the yatra until government removed bunkers at Hazratbal shrine in Srinagar. The bunkers were removed, but the militants announced other demands. The yatra, however, was peaceful that year.

Written by Bashaarat Masood | Published:July 11, 2017 2:57 am
Amarnath Yatra terror attack, Jammu bandh, jammu closed, curfew, vaishno devi curfew, Amarnath Yatra, Amarnath Yatra attack, J&K attack, PM Modi amarnath, amarnath yatra reactions, mehbooba mufti, terrorist attack, indian express news, india news The cave is located 3888m above the sea level

Yatra on target

# Monday’s attack is the second major militant strike on the Amarnath yatra in two and a half decades of militancy.

# Annual Amarnath pilgrimage continued uninterrupted during 2008, 2010 and 2016 street protests.

In 1994, Pakistan-based Harkat ul Ansar said they would not allow the yatra until government removed bunkers at Hazratbal shrine in Srinagar. The bunkers were removed, but the militants announced other demands. The yatra, however, was peaceful that year.

In August 2000, militants made the first major strike on the Amarnath yatra when they opened indiscriminate fire at Pahalgam, a base camp, killing 25 people.

In September 1996, thousands of pilgrims were stranded when freezing rain and snow lashed the area for three days. Sudden drop in temperature across the route resulted in death of over 200 pilgrims while thousand others fell ill.

Read | Amarnath Yatra terror attack: Here’s how political leaders are reacting

What is the importance of Amarnath?

Legend has it that when Shiva decided to tell Parvati the secret of his immortality (Amar Katha), he began looking for a place where nobody could overhear him. He chose the Amarnath cave, 3,888 m above sea level, in a gorge deep inside the Himalayas in south Kashmir that is accessible through Pahalgam and Baltal in Sonmarg. The cave can be reached only on foot or on ponies through a steep winding path, 46 km from Pahalgam and 16 km from Baltal.

How was the cave discovered?

According to lore, in 1850, a saint gave a Muslim shepherd, Buta Malik, a bag full of coal while he was with his herd high up in the mountains of south Kashmir. When he reached home, Malik opened the bag to find it full of gold. An ecstatic Malik ran to thank the saint but couldn’t find him. Instead he found the cave and the ice lingam. He told the villagers about his discovery and that was the beginning of the pilgrimage. “Originally the yatra used to be for 15 days or a month,” says the Purohit Sabha Mattan president. The sabha organised the yatra before the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board took over in 2000. In 2005, the board decided to extend the pilgrimage to over two months.
There is no official record though of when the yatra first began. The annual yatra ends when Mahant Deependira Giri, custodian of the Holy Mace, carries it to the cave.

Read | Amarnath Yatra terror attack: Five women among seven killed; Ramnath Kovind condemns the attack

How is the lingam formed?

The lingam is formed by a trickle of water falling from a small cleft in the cave’s roof. The water freezes as it drips slowly to form a tall, smooth cone of ice—the Shivlingam. It gets its full shape in May. Then it begins melting gradually and by August it is reduced to just a few feet in height. On the left side of the Shivlingam are two more ice stalagmites of Lord Ganesh and Parvati.

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  1. S
    Sudheer Thaakur
    Jul 12, 2017 at 12:39 am
    ALL WHO TALK OF KASHMIRIYAT, GANGA-JAMUNI TEHZEEB LIVE IN TIME WARP. SYNCRETIC SUFI ISLAM IN KASHMIR STATRTED DECLINING MANY DECADES AGO. AND IN LAST HALF CENTURY THAT DECLINE HAS BECOME INCREASINGLY STEEPER. GANGA JAMUNI TEHZEEB WAS STRANGULATED TO DEATH DIED WHEN MUSLIMS OPTED FOR PAKISTAN. ALL THESE FORGET KNOWINGLY OR UNKNOWINGLY THAT ISLAM SINCE ARAB OIL SHOCK IN 70S HAS CHANGED. TODAY'S ISLAM GOING UNDER LABEL OF WAHABISM IS SUPREMACIST AND EXCLUSIVIST. AND IS HUGELY POLITICAL. ISLAM FOR ITS ADHERENTS IS NOT A PERSONAL MATTER BUT A MATTER OF ITS BROTHERHOOD WITH OBJECTIVE OF ESTABLISHING DOMINANCE OF SHARIA OVER WHOLE HUMANITY WITH NO EXCEPTION. ALL THOSE QUOTES OF GANDHI ABOUT ISLAM BEING PEACEFUL ARE NO LONGER CONTEXTUAL. I STRONGLY BELIEVE HAD GANDHI LIVED TODAY AND GIVEN HIS COMMITMENT TO TRUTH HE WOULD HAVE ACCEPTED THAT AT THE VERY LEAST THERE WERE PARTS OF ISLAM WHICH WERE PROBLEMATIC.
    Reply
    1. A
      Aadarsh
      Jul 11, 2017 at 12:36 pm
      Intesrting story but the only correction is that the was not doscovered in 1850. Shiv Puran has a mention of Amarnath and the importnace of the visit to the shrine. I am sure Mahadev will teach the right lesson to these jihadis soon. They have dared to destroy peace in Saavan- the holy month to worship Shiva when it is believed Shiva resides on earth during this month. These jihadis are going to get a good return for their lowest of the low attacks.
      Reply
      1. R
        rocky
        Jul 11, 2017 at 8:32 am
        If the cave was discovered only in 1850, then how can it be the site for the story of Shiva telling Parvati that Amarkatha? Hindus just want to believe in anything and everything. Notwithstanding the religious aspect, the journey is a nice outing in nature.
        Reply
        1. N
          Nishant
          Jul 11, 2017 at 8:24 am
          Great warriors of the ancient past lost because they were on the wrong side, the side which was not pro-humanity. Same is true of the nations. Let us assume a hypothetical scenario that India loses to the pro-terror methods of China-pak axis...what kind of world order (or local order) they will be creating...one spreading jihadi terrorism at behest of China, and continuously pretending to be bottle feeding. There is still time on Chinese side to reflect, why they have enraged India to a point that it will not back down on these issues any more. There are still many good philosophers in Pakistan who understand this very well, as they are pro-humanity and against terrorism. China is expected to have even more in numbers, but, do they have freedom of expression.
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          1. N
            Nishant
            Jul 11, 2017 at 8:05 am
            Terrorism is a tool of Pakistani statecraft. China has demonstrated unrelenting support for Pakistani jihadi terrorist leaders even in UN. This small incident of killings is one of the hundreds of thousands during the last 3 decades, in which innocent people have lost life. Both China and Pakistan are trying to change the world order based upon their 'newly forged' ethical principles based upon using terrorists as strategic assets. It is not pro-humanity. From Indian perspective, China is at risk of being viewed as a 'subhuman' actor, and India itself at risk of being completely committed countering that at any cost to itself. World is keenly watching. It is not blind to terrorist message. Other nations with a better sanity will have to decide between supporting new-formed China-pak ethical order (...CPEC/OBOR) which has covert endor t of terror tactics to subdue nations, or else, following the age old principles of peaceful existence or even wars with certain rules of engagement.
            Reply
            1. K
              Kamal Pasha
              Jul 11, 2017 at 1:51 pm
              Nishant : These long comments by Hindus and very very long Bhashans by FEKU does not bother your both neighbours at all. Keep on singing these old songs.
              Reply
              1. N
                Nishant
                Jul 12, 2017 at 1:59 am
                Kamaal: u keep singing ur songs...I am glad that u belong to a nation with 2 pass rate in technical colleges...happy jihadi mindset...ur country is going to see a lot of progress if the government keeps on manipulating to fool IMF.
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