A photo story capturing the journey of Amarnath yatris in Jammu and Kashmir
Photos by Javeed Shah | August 23, 2018
A curving throng of devotees outside the cave shrine of Amarnath, where water dripping from the ceiling freezes into a cylindrical mound worshipped by the devout as a Shivling. Legend has it that it was discovered by Bhrigu Muni, a rishi. Texts dating to the 11th century and to the Mughal era have been cited referring to the shrine. The most recent ‘discovery’ of the shrine is attributed to a shepherd called Buta Malik in the mid-19th century. Since then pilgrims have been visiting the shrine by the thousands daily during the Amarnath Yatra season, making the five-day journey from Pahalgam on foot or pony, braving, in recent decades, militancy, in addition to the weather and the steep mountain path. More than 2.6 lakh have already visited it this year.
Rendered into toy figures by the tall, dark mountains and the stark white expanses of ice and snow, a string of pilgrims on ponies led by pony-walas who double up as guides makes its way towards the cave shrine. Of late, global warming has been a major concern in the Himalayas, considered by scientists to be the ‘Third Pole’. If the increased rate of glacial melting is a scientific concern, pilgrims worry about what global warming could do to the ice Shivling.
Incongruous in this looming, mountainous diorama, two pilgrims seem like office-goers but for the trekking sticks. The ambulances made available by the government make the Yatra safer for pilgrims who are unable to take the strains imposed by the high altitudes.
Ponies rest and wait for pilgrims to take up to the cave shrine. A child, meanwhile, gets a ride on a relative’s shoulders.
There have been many terrorist attacks on Amarnath pilgrims in this state beset by miltancy. Only last year, seven people were killed. Understandably, security is a major concern. This year, over 40,000 CRPF and state police personnel have been deployed to secure the yatris’ safety.
Twenty-five youngsters with dreams of becoming political leaders – or of contributing meaningfully to governance processes – have begun their exciting journey, in a formal setting of an education institute. The Indian Institute of Democratic Leadership (IIDL), of the Rambhau Mhalgi Prabodhini (
The Art of Conjuring Alternate Realities: How Information Warfare Shapes Your World By Shivam Shankar Singh and Anand Venkatanarayanan HarperCollins / 284 pages / Rs 599 Professor Noam Chomsky, linguist and public intellectual, has often spoken of &ls
The brutal second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic in India has left a significant death toll in its wake. Health experts advise that the imminent third wave can be delayed by following simple measures like wearing a mask and engaging in social distancing. However, near the end of the second wave, we witnesse
Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari has emphasised deciding driving hours for truck drivers of commercial vehicles, similar to pilots, to reduce fatigue-induced road accidents. In a Na
In a step towards Telecom Reforms which aim to provide internet and tele connectivity for the marginalised section, the Department of Telecommunications, Ministry of Communica
Raising concerns over rising seawater levels and climate change, Mumbai First, a 25-year-old public-private partnership policy think tank, has written letters to Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, minister for environment and climate change, tourism and protocol, Aditya Thackeray and Mumbai munic