Chota Amarnath Yatra: After a gap of 9 years, Bandipora district of North Kashmir is busy in preparations for the upcoming ‘Chota Amarnath Yatra’. The Chhota Amarnath Yatra is scheduled to begin on August 31 and devotees will visit the sacred ice linga inside the cave. The ‘Chhota Maharaja Yatra’ started after a gap of twenty-five years in 2013, but was stopped again after 2014 due to security reasons.
Located on top of a mountain in the dense forests of the Arin Valley of Bandipur, the Maha Daneshwar Temple, also known as ‘Chhota Amarnath’, houses a naturally formed ice Shivling. Drops of water from above slowly fall on this lingam. The pilgrimage to this cave takes only one day, the narrow space inside which can accommodate only 7 to 8 persons.
This temple is also known as Chhota Amarnath
This Prakrit cave temple, built in the strong mountains of Ajas village of Bandipur district, 75 km from Srinagar, is situated amidst dense forests after a difficult climb of many ghats. local people to the temple "Diyaneshwar Temple" and the rest of the world by the name of Chhota Amarnath.
In this temple, along with the idols made in natural form of Shiva, Parvati and Ganesha, there are also idols carved out of hard stones. A stream of water also flows over the Shivling in the cave, which looks like milk when seen from a distance. For the journey, the pilgrims have to cover a 15 km long route on foot.
Earlier used to organize a big fair
Before the situation worsened in Kashmir in 1989, a grand fair used to be held here every year on Shravan Purnima (Raksha Bandhan) which continued for three days. In which devotees used to come not only from Kashmir Valley but also from all over the country. Every year four to five thousand pilgrims used to come here.
No one can claim about this cave temple as to when it was built and when people living in Bandipur came to know about it, the ancestors of Aftab Kaul, a landlord of the village, found this temple.
A source of year-round income for the local people
Twenty-five years ago, how important this yatra was for this area can be gauged from the fact that yatra was the only source of income for the local people throughout the year. For example, Amarnath Yatra used to happen for the people of Pahalgam. Now with the resumption of the yatra, the local people hope that the Yatra of Budha Amarnath will also start like before.
According to DDC member (Arin) Ghulam Mohiuddin, local residents have extended their support for the initiative, but the infrastructure needs to be improved. Mohiuddin said, "We are thrilled about the Chhota Amarnath Yatra. It is a welcome step which brings the spirit of devotion in our community. However, concerns were raised about the existing road connectivity and infrastructure along the yatra route."
Arrangements being made regarding security
He said, "While we appreciate the effort, it is important to ensure proper road connectivity and facilities for a more comfortable pilgrimage." Officer Ameer Shafi Rather said, "Security remains a priority. The police department is prepared to deploy adequate personnel to ensure security and maintain law and order. The communication wing of the police department is ready to provide necessary information and assistance to the pilgrims."
Meanwhile, the administration is also working on installing solar lights along the yatra route to enhance visibility and safety. Keeping this hope of the local people in mind, now after a gap of nine years officials from Health, Forest, Revenue and many other departments along with the local people, DDC and Panchayat members visited the place.
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