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JAMMU, Aug 5: Despite the unrest in Kashmir valley and curfew restrictions, “Chhari Sthapana”, an important ritual in connection with the annual Amarnath yatra in South Kashmir Himalayas, was today performed with religious fervor and gaiety by Sadhus and other devotees led by Mahant Deependra Giri at Shri Amareshwar Temple in Srinagar.
“In connection with annual pilgrimage of Chhari-Mubarak (holy mace of Lord Shiva), the traditional Chhari-Sthapana ceremony was held at the temple by   Sadhus led by Mahant Deependra Giri amid chanting of Vedic hymns this morning,” a spokesman of the ‘True Trust’, founded by Mahant Ji in 2004, said.
Deependra Giri, who is the custodian of the holy mace, would join the annual pilgrimage to the 3,880-metre high holy cave on August 13, marking the concluding phase of the 48-day yatra.
“The holy mace, one depicting Lord Shiva and another Goddess Parvati, will be kept in the Temple for ‘darshan’ till it leaves for main course of pilgrimage next week,” the spokesman said.
He said the traditional ‘Chhari-Pujan’ would be performed on Sunday on the occasion of ‘Nag-Panchami’ at the temple.
After night halts at various places along the traditional 42-km Pahalgam route, the holy mace is expected to reach the cave shrine on August 18 for day-long prayers on the occasion of ‘Raksha-Bandhan’ and ‘Shravan Purnima’, marking the conclusion of the annual yatra.
The yatra commenced from the twin routes of Pahalgam in Anantnag district and 12-km shorter Baltal route in Ganderbal district on July 2 and so far about 2.17 lakh pilgrims have paid obeisance at the cave shrine, housing the naturally formed Ice-Shivlingam.
The devotees and public in general have the privilege to have ‘darshan’ of holy mace kept in the Amareshwar temple.
The True Trust’, has made all the necessary arrangements like food, accommodation and transportation for the Sadhus and worshippers, who will congregate from across the country to join Chhari-Mubarak during the annual pilgrimage.
Meanwhile, 498 pilgrims paid obeisance to Ice Lingam at holy cave on 35th day of darshan today. With this the total number of pilgrims performing darshan in cave shrine since the 48 day long yatra started on July 2 has touched 2,17,299.
According to an official spokesman 210 pilgrims left from Chandanwari transit camp to holy cave via the traditional Sheshnag-Panchtarni track while 14 pilgrims left by chopper for cave shrine. He said 93 pilgrims returned to Nunwan base camp by foot after performing darshan at holy cave while six pilgrims returned by chopper.
He said 276 pilgrims left for Jammu from Pahalgam yesterday while 93 pilgrims are staying there at present.
He said 177 pilgrims left from Baltal to holy cave today while 163reached Baltal this morning from Jammu. Besides, 222 stranded pilgrims were evacuated to Jammu from Baltal today, he added.
Meanwhile, a fresh batch of 113 pilgrims left from Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas here for two base camps of Baltal and Pahalgam in four buses today under tight security arrangements.