Srinagar: Amid curfew, the holy mace of Lord Shiva, 'Chhari Mubarak', today joined the annual Amarnath yatra, marking the concluding phase of the 48-day pilgrimage to 3,880 metre cave shrine in south Kashmir Himalayas.
Amid chanting of Vedic hymns, a group of sadhus and devotees led by its custodian, Mahant Deepindra Giri, left with the saffron robed-mace from its abode at Amareshwar Temple Dashnami Akhara near Lal Chowk this morning for Pahalgam base camp along the traditional 42-km route to the holy cave, officials said.
On way to Pahalgam, they said it was taken to various temples, including historic Martand Temple at Mattan, and prayers were offered.
The officials said special prayers were also offered at Sureshwar Temple in Srinagar, Shiv Temple at Pampore in Pulwama, Shiv Temple at Bijbehara, Ganesh Temple across river Lidder, Ganeshbal and Gouri Shankar temple in Anantnag district.
The Chhari Mubarak will reach the cave on August 18 on the occasion of 'Raksha Bandhan' which officially marks the culmination of the annual yatra.
The yatra began on July 2 fom the twin routes of Pahalgam in Anantnag district and the shorter 12-km Baltal route in Ganderbal district. So far over 2.19 lakh pilgrims had paid obeisance at the cave shrine.
Early this month, the Chhari Mubarak was taken to various temples, including Shankaracharya and Sharika Bhawani in the city, and special prayers were offered in accordance with the tradition.
'Chhari-Sthapana' and 'Dhwajarohan' ceremonies were also performed at Dashnami Akhara on August 5 followed by traditional Chhari-Pujan on August 7.
After a night halt at Pahalgam, special prayers would be offered at Pahalgam tomorrow before the start of the onward foot journey to the cave shrine the same day.
After leaving Pahalgam, the officials said the Chhari Mubarak will be taken to Chandanwari for the second night halt on 'Dwadashi'.
It will be taken to Sheshnag on 'Tryodashi' (August 16) and would leave for Panchtarani on 'Chaturdashi' (August 17). On August 18, the Chhari Mubarak would proceed to holy cave for prayers from Panchatarani on the occasion of 'Raksha Bandhan' and 'Sharavan Purnima'.
Traditional rituals would be performed for the whole day at the cave and the holy mace would leave for night halt at Panchtarani before dusk.
On August 19, the holy mace would be taken to Pahalgam for night halt, he said adding 'Pujan' and 'Visarjan' ceremonies would be performed on the banks of river Lidder next day followed by traditional 'Kari Pakouri Bhandara', which is the last ritual in connection with the religious pilgrimage.
The holy mace would return to its abode at Amareshwar temple in Srinagar on August 20, the officials said.
Kashmir Valley is on the boil since July 9, a day after the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen commander Burhan Wani and so far 56 persons were killed in widespread clashes between protesters and the law enforcing agencies.
Separatists, who are spearheading the ongoing agitation, had called for a "referendum march" to Lal Chowk today.
The ongoing unrest has badly affected the arrival of the pilgrims from different parts of the country as only over 19,000 pilgrims could perform the yatra during the past 16 days.
Last year, a total of 3.52 lakh pilgrims had visited the cave shrine for 'darshan' of the naturally formed ice- shivlingam.