Srinagar- Chhari Mubarak (the holy mace) reached Panchtarni and will proceed towards the holy cave shrine on Thursday for the final puja to make the formal end of the 62-day-long Amarnath Yatra 2023.
The last batch of yatris left for the cave shrine on August 23 and since then, the pilgrimage has remained suspended, an official said.
He said that during the beginning of the yatra this year, there was a good rush of pilgrims; however, later it started declining with each passing day, forcing the authorities to suspend the yatra a week before its scheduled time.
This year, the overall flow was good after several years as around 4.5 lakh yatris visited the cave shrine, he said.
Over the last several years, Amarnath Yatra has been witnessing fewer footfalls. Compared to over 6 lakh pilgrims who visited the cave shrine in 2012, the number has come down to over 3 lakh in 2022 and 4.5 lakh this year.
The 62-day-long pilgrimage commenced on July 1 this year and will culminate with the event of ‘Chhari Mubarak’ on August 31.
The official said that a group of sages led by custodian of the holy mace Mahant Deependra Giri carrying Chhari Mubarak will reach the Amarnath cave on Thursday and will spend tonight at Panchtarni.
The 145-kilometre Chhari Mubarak yatra starts from Dashnami Akhara in Srinagar and during the route, the sages perform hawans at Pampore, Bijbehara, Anantnag, Mattan, Aishmuqam and finally at Pahalgam where the procession takes rest for two days before proceeding to Amarnath cave.
The sages along with Chhari Mubarak usually spend two nights at Pahalgam – one at Chandanwari and another at Sheshnag.
The puja of the mace was again held early on Wednesday morning before leaving for Panchtarni, he said.
On August 31, on the occasion of Shravan-Punima, Chhari Mubarak will be taken to the holy shrine of Amarnath to reach it before sunrise, and the pujan shall begin with the rising sun, the official said
73,000 Visit Shankaracharya Temple
In a first, the hilltop Shankaracharya temple in Srinagar has recorded the footfall of around 73,000 devotees on the eve of Raksha Bandhan, the festival that was celebrated with religious fervor across Jammu & Kashmir on Wednesday.
According to the Kashmir News Observer the special prayers were held at the temple on the festival where a huge rush of devotees was witnessed at 4:00 AM in the morning.
Devotees from different parts of the country were seen waiting in long queues at hilltop temple.
J L Singh, a head preacher and a caretaker at Shankaracharya temple said that the rush of devotees has been increasing with each passing year, but for the first time, the number of devotees visiting the temple has surpassed the previous figures.
He said nearly 73,000 devotees visited the temple to attend the special prayers from 4:00 Am till late evening hours Wednesday. (With inputs from KNO)
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