Sunday, July 1, 2007

Yatra begins, but the Lord’s already gone


It seems pilgrims on the holy Amarnath Yatra won’t have much of a darshan this year.

On Sunday, the first day the two-month long pilgrimage, Arun Kumar, chief executive officer, Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB), said the Shivalingam had melted due to high temperature. Kumar, who had earlier in the day visited the cave along with Home Minister Shivraj Patil, said two other ice lingams, representing Ganesh and Parvati, had not melted but had reduced in size.

"It is a normal phenomenon," Kumar told reporters. "The size of the Shivalingam never remains the same; it varies in size and shape under the effect of the weather."

A senior official associated with the SASB said the yatra would, however, proceed as per schedule. “The sanctity is with the place not with the lingam alone," said the official.

But pilgrims at the Nunkun base camp in Pahalgam seemed in a hurry to reach the cave shrine for a darshan before the ice stalagmite vanished completely.

Experts blame global warming and the body heat of pilgrims visiting the shrine for the melting.

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