SRINAGAR: After a hiatus of ten years, a group of 130 yatris has embarked on the Chota Amarnath Yatra, a one-day religious rite, in the Bandipora district of northern Kashmir on Thursday, with local residents warmly welcoming the yatris in the early morning at the Dardpora area.

Nestled in Dardpora Valley’s dense forests on a Himalayan mountaintop, the Maha Daneshwar temple, also known as ‘Chhota Amarnath,’ houses a naturally formed ice lingam. The pilgrimage to this cave takes just a day, with the narrow space inside accommodating only 7 to 8 people.

Traditionally conducted on the day of ‘Sharvani Purnima,’ the yatra involves devotees also paying obeisance at the Maha Dnyaneshwar temple situated near the cave.

“After being flagged off by Deputy Commissioner Bandipora, Dr Owais Ahmad, the devotees left from the temple in Kaloosa village at 5 am and embarked on a trek to the cave shrine located deep in the Shamthan forests of Arin village,” an official said.

Speaking to news agency KNO, the DC Bandipora, Owais Ahmad said that the Chota Amarnath Yatra has resumed after a decade, with devotees undertaking the one-day religious pilgrimage today.

He said that comprehensive arrangements were established to ensure the seamless execution of the yatra, with the active participation of local residents from Shamthan and PRIs, contributing significantly to its success.

The DC said that the police, army, and various civil departments have contributed to ensuring the smooth progress of the yatra, and he anticipated that it would become a regular event in the upcoming years.

Meanwhile, in Dardpora village, through which the yatra trek passes, numerous locals extended a warm welcome to the yatris and joined them on their journey towards the cave.

“It’s a joyous occasion to see the yatra back after so long. We hope this becomes an annual tradition, and we urge the authorities to further develop the infrastructure in the Dardpora area to accommodate more pilgrims,” Gulam Ahmad, a local said.

The yatris shared their enthusiasm and optimism regarding the yatra’s revival and the administration’s permission for its operation this year.

“We hope that the yatra continues regularly as it used to, allowing more individuals who wish to offer their respects at the cave shrine to also partake in this pilgrimage in the coming times,” said a yatri.

Tehsildar Bandipora, Sheikh Tariq, who supervised the yatra until its completion, said that a total of 130 devotees participated in the pilgrimage. In addition, a large number of locals volunteered to assist them throughout the trek. Furthermore, he expressed satisfaction with the peaceful conclusion of the yatra—(KNO)

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