Shivlingam shows signs of further growth
Rattan Sharma | 05 Jun 2008

WITH FINAL touches being given to the arrangements for this year's Amarnath yatra, Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) has been put on top gear to ensure a smooth and well regulated pilgrimage.

Legend has it that Lord Shiva recounted to Ma Parvati the secret of creation in a cave in Amarnath. Unknown to them, a pair of doves eaves dropped on this conversation and having learnt the secret are reborn again and again, making the cave their eternal abode. Many pilgrims report seeing the dove-pair when they trek the arduous route to pay obeisance before the ice-lingam.

Shahjehan Dar, who heads a team of 100 workers that has been working on the track and the advanced base camp of Baltal since the past one month, said that the route has been fully cleared and made trekkable for pilgrims. Nazir Ahmed, camping with a team of workers at the Holy Cave to ensure watch and ward, said the Shivlingam has been showing signs of growth for the past few days with temperatures dipping to almost sub-zero during the nights. “At least its (Shivlingam) size and girth have not decreased since March 25, when we took the first pictures in the Cave Shrine,” said a Gujjar member of the team who trekked the arduous terrain over glaciers in March to reach the Shrine.
This year the ice lingams of Ma Parvati and Ganesh have also formed fully.

“No pilgrim visited the Cave Shrine ever since we took over the watch and ward here," Mohammed Azam said, adding that the 53 feet wide and seven feet tall second rung of grill fencing has made it impossible for anyone to go near the sanctum sanctorum. He said even the security forces deployed in the cave periphery are being kept at bay. "We haven't allowed anybody to go beyond the first of the three fencings," he said.

Governor, Lt General (Retd), S K Sinha, who heads the Board, took stock of the arrangements made with regard to track clearance and raising of temporary pre-fab structures at Baltal and the Holy Cave. He conferred with engineers and discussed the arrangements for the annual pilgrimage beginning on June 18 this year.

At the Holy Cave situated at 3,888 metres, the Governor paid obeisance along with his principal secretary and chief executive officer (CEO), SASB, Dr Arun Kumar. As the puja was in full swing, a pair of pigeons kept on hovering in the sanctum sanctorum over the fully formed magnificent Shivlingam, signifying good omen. General Sinha prayed for peace and tranquility in the state and hoped that this pilgrimage, a symbol of Kashmir's pluralistic ethos, will further cement the bonds of brotherhood. He said the Valley of sufis and saints inherits the glorious ethos of tolerance, co-existence and love that makes Kashmir distinct in whole of the country.

General Sinha was briefed on the steps taken to ensure a smooth and secure yatra. He gave specific instructions for maintaining utmost hygiene and ensuring the protection of the ecology of the peripheral areas.

At Baltal, the Governor had an interaction with the officers of the civil administration, police, security forces and the Shrine Board. He discussed all arrangements in details with them.

Giving the details about the route clearance, the CEO said that it has almost been completed. He said as a result of diversion near Sangam, the track length has been reduced from 14 kilometres to 12 kilometres, which should normally save one hour in climbing up to the Cave Shrine.