Bandipora, August 31: After a hiatus of one decade, the “Chota Amarnath” Yatra was resumed in North Kashmir's Bandipora district with religious fervour.
Maha Daneshwar temple, popularly known as "Chhota Amarnath", is situated in the forests of Dardpora village, where a naturally formed ice lingam, showered by delicate water droplets grace the sacred site.
The pilgrimage to this mystical cave spans just one day and accommodates a group of 7 to 8 individuals due to its narrow confines. Traditionally observed on “Sharvani Purnima”, the yatra involves not only paying homage at the Maha Dnyaneshwar temple near the cave but also navigates the area's challenging terrains.
Deputy Commissioner Bandipora, Dr Owais Ahmad flagged off the 70 devotees who commenced their journey at 5am from the temple in Kaloosa village.
The Deputy Commissioner told Rising Kashmir that this one-day religious sojourn resulted from the collaborative efforts of various stakeholders, including local residents from Shamthan and PRIs, who played a pivotal role in ensuring the pilgrimage's smooth execution
Owais said that to guarantee seamless progress, law enforcement agencies, the military, and various civil departments worked in concert. As the yatra trail wound through Dardpora village, locals extended a hearty welcome to the pilgrims with many joined the sacred journey towards the cave. The yatra's revival, after a decade-long hiatus, evoked joy and jubilation among residents and sparked hopes of establishing an annual ritual.
Local resident Abdul Gani aspired to see improved amenities to accommodate a larger number of pilgrims so to ensure their comfort and safety. "The Chota Amarnath Yatra holds a special place in our hearts. Let's collaborate with the administration to create an experience that's not just religious but also comfortable for everyone," voiced Ishfaq Ahmad, another local of Dardpora village. The pilgrims were excited and hopeful about the revival of the pilgrimage this year.They hoped to see more people join the yatra in the future to pay their respects at the sacred cave shrine regularly. The yatris expressed their anticipation for the continuation of this journey in the years to come to nurture the connection between spirituality, tradition, and the breathtaking natural beauty of the district.
This year, the yatra was planned by district administration Bandipora after a round of deliberations with the local Kashmiri Pandit community. Many developmental works were done for the first time along the yatra route so as to help the pilgrims. Recent initiatives include the development of track until Maha Daneshwar Temple, also known as Chota Amarnath Cave, setting up of washrooms, langer facilities, deployment of medical teams and provision of other basic amenities.
It is worth mentioning here that besides local residents, many people settled outside J&K also took part in the yatra. Efforts were made by the administration for the safe journey of such yatris. Festive atmosphere was witnessed across Bandipora town and especially at Dardpora village, which is the start point of the yatra.
Dr Owais extended his best wishes to all the pilgrims embarking on this spiritual journey. He prayed for their pilgrimage to be blessed with safety, peace, and an abundance of divine experiences.
The DC informed that the 15 kilometer long Yatra will take place through the Arin-Dardpora route via Shamthan and finally to Chota Amarnath Cave. He further informed that the district administration has collaborated with various departments to ensure smooth coordination and support for the pilgrims throughout their journey. SSP Bandipora Lakshay Sharma, officers from district administration, volunteers besides senior citizens of the town were present on the occasion.