Heat Wave Melts Ice Lingam At Amarnath Cave Shrine

The Amarnath ice lingam seen in a Twitter image posted by defence minister Rajnath Singh when he visited the shrine on July 18. (PTI)

Srinagar: The naturally formed ice lingam in Amarnath cave shrine has melted almost completely due to the soaring mercury in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, reports said on Wednesday.

The report that came a day after the government announced cancellation of the annual pilgrimage, said that the ice lingam has melted over 80 percent due to the high temperature in the Valley. The report said that though the Shiv Lingam had fully formed by mid-June but its size and girth started decreasing thereafter.

“It was reduced to half by the first week of July and when defence minister Rajnath Singh visited the place of worship on July 18, it had melted more than 80 percent,” the report added.

Last week, the Jammu and Kashmir High Court asked Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) to take an urgent decision on holding the annual pilgrimage to the cave shrine, located in the higher reaches of South Kashmir, keeping in mind the threat of COVID-19.

Situated in a narrow gorge at the end of Lidder Valley, Amarnath shrine stands at 3,888 metres, 46 km from Pahalgam and 14 km from Baltal in Jammu and Kashmir.

The Jammu and Kashmir administration on August 2 last year had issued a security advisory asking Amarnath pilgrims and tourists to leave Kashmir as soon as possible, citing threat in the Valley.

The advisory was issued just before the Centre announced the nullification of Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir into Union Territories on August 5.

Meanwhile, Mahant Deependra Giri, the custodian of the holy mace of Lord Shiva, on Wednesday supported the Board decision to cancel this year's pilgrimage to the cave shrine in south Kashmir Himalayas.

"The annual yatra has been prematurely ended in the past due to various reasons but it is for the first time that the pilgrimage has been cancelled at the outset. Given the situation arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic, it was the right decision," Giri said in a video message here.

Giri, who is the custodian of the 'Charri Mubarak', carries the holy mace from its abode at Akhara building in Lal Chowk here to the holy cave in south Kashmir Himalayas in the last week of the yatra and then back to its resting place after performing the rituals at various places in either side of the journey.

He said the decision could be taken only due to "Lord Shiva's wish".

"The devotees should benefit from the live telecast of the morning and evening aarti on Doordarshan. When things will improve next year, we shall have even more numbers than earlier performing the yatra," Giri added.

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