The Amarnath Yatra — the annual holy Hindu pilgrimage to the remote Amarnath cave shrine in Jammu and Kashmir — begins on July 2. In light of the pilgrimage, which will continue till Aug. 18, the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) has issued a detailed advisory for pilgrims who will make the journey.
The pilgrimage will take place through both the Baltal and Pahalgam routes. The J&K governor-chaired SASB has urged the pilgrims to:
- Carry sufficient woollen clothing as the temperature may abruptly fall to below 5 degree Celsius
- Carry umbrellas, raincoats, waterproof shoes and wind cheaters, as the weather could be unpredictable
- Keep their clothes and eatables in a waterproof bag to avoid their getting wet
- Keep a note containing name, address and contact number of any other pilgrim accompanying [This is in cases of emergency]
- Carry their identification proof and Yatra permit
- Travel in a group, with horses or ponies, or even porters, carrying the luggage
- Ensure that all the people in a group remain sight and not get separated
- Leave the base camps with other members of their own group when returning
- Seek police assistance immediately if any group member goes missing. This is to be accompanied by an announcement on the yatra camp's public address system
- Help fellow pilgrims
- Strictly follow the instructions that come from the Yatra administration
- Contact the SASB camp directors or the nearest yatra control room for any and all assistance
- Immediately get in touch with the nearest camp director or mountain rescue teams in case of an accident or emergency
- Reach the gates of Access Control at Domel and Chandanwari, which open at 5 a.m. and close at 11 a.m., on time. No Yatri shall be allowed after the gates close
- Avail of the free food at the langars — community kitchens — in the entire Yatra area
- Follow the prescribed food menu, as has been mentioned on the SASB's website: www.shriamarnathjishrine.com
- Purchas pre-activated SIM cards at the Baltal and Nunwan base camps as prepaid SIMs from other states do not work in J&K and the Yatra area
- Respect the environment and not pollute the Yatra area
The SASB has also warned Yatris against doing some things.
- Women yatris are not to wear sarees during the Yatra, with salwar kameez, pant-shirts or tracksuits advised
- Women more than six weeks pregnant will not be allowed on the pilgrimage
- Children below 13 years of age and those aged over 75 years shall also not be permitted
- Yatris are not to stop at places marked by warning notices
- They are also not to walk barefoot or without woolen clothing as the temperature remains quite low and can change abruptly
- They are also not to use slippers because of steep rises and falls on the route. Only trekking shoes with laces have been advised
- They are also not to take short cuts, as it could turn out to be dangerous
- Yatris have also been asked not to start the journey on an empty stomach, as it could lead to medical complications
- They are not to bring any polythene material as it is banned in J&K, and violators may be punished
- They must also not throw coins, currency notes, decorative cloths or anything else at the Shivlingam at the cave
- They are also not to stay at the cave overnight as the altitude is high and the weather conditions could be harsh and unpredictable
- They are also not to depart from the Panjtarni camp to the cave shrine after 3 p.m. as no darshan is allowed after 6 p.m.
Yatris have also been advised to visit the SASB website and watch the video documentary on it to get familiarised what awaits them on the route to the cave shrine.
In case of any Yatra-related query, the pilgrims have been urged to contact the SASB at 01912503399 and 01912555662 in Jammu, 01942501679 and 01942591821 in Srinagar, and on the website: www.shriamarnathjishrine.com.