Amidst uncertainty over the opening of the Amarnath pilgrimage for the public this year, the holy ice lingam in the cave shrine has started rapidly melting on the mountains of south Kashmir.
This is the first ice lingam after the special status of Jammu and Kashmir was abrogated on 5 August last year.
The ice lingam this year was shorter and thinner in size when the first pictures came in over a month ago and it was fast melting with each passing day.
The government of Jammu and Kashmir has not yet decided whether the pilgrimage will be thrown open for the public because of the corona pandemic or not.
The Lieutenant Governor, GC Murmu, along with his family members performed the “Pratham Arti” at the shrine on 5 July. Thereafter, the Doordarshan is live telecasting the morning and evening prayers at the high-altitude shrine.
Uncertainty over the pilgrimage was triggered earlier this year when the Jammu and Kashmir administration on 22 April announced cancellation of the Amarnath Yatra in wake of the corna-virus pandemic, but within few minutes withdrew the press release and said a decision on the issue will be taken later.
The holy pilgrimage was scheduled to begin on 23 June and conclude on 3 August when the “Sampann Pooja” would be done on the day of Rakshabandhan.
Last year, the holy pilgrimage was cut short days before the centre abrogated the Article 370 and also split the state into two union territories (UTs). The pilgrims were ordered to immediately leave J&K that was put under curfew when the government announced scrapping of the special status.
Initially, there were reports that the pilgrimage might be opened from only the Baltal route for pilgrims flying to the cave shrine in helicopters, but nothing such has been done so far.
This is not for the first time that the ice lingam has started melting soon. The lingam melted a month early in July in 2018 even before the annual pilgrimage was officially over. This has been repeatedly going on for the past few years probably because of climate change.
Some time ago, the helipad at the shrine was shifted further as it was believed that the lingam was getting melted because of the thrust of wind created by the choppers ferrying pilgrims from the two routes—Pahalgam and Baltal. However, the lingam has started melting this year although there were no helicopter flights.