Friday, June 18, 2010
For some, the idea of being able to use a mobile on such a mission is sacrilegious, but for most it will likely prove a means of support during a very dangerous journey. The Yatra is a truly perilous trip to embark on. Not only is it a grueling and sinuous climb to 12,750 feet to see an ice lingam that appears in a cave between June and August - the route can also be blighted by unseasonal blizzards, and is a terrorist target for Kashmiri separatists.
The Yatra has a checkered history and was suspended for five years in the 1990s after terrorist threats. The situation worsened when the suspension was lifted. In 1996, 100,000 yatris were caught in a storm that killed 242 people and four years later, in 2000, militants massacred 30 people as they began their slow march.
For Hindus, the Amarnath Caves are one of their religion’s holiest shrines and where the God Shiva explained the secret of life and eternity to his divine consort Parvati, more than 5,000 years ago. Devotees can make the 26-mile Yatra on foot from the town of Pahalgam, a journey that takes four to five days - or the shorter route from the town of Baltal, that takes about eight hours.