Srinagar: A large number of devotees including Sadhus on Friday joined "Chhari Pujan" at a temple here, marking the beginning of the culmination phase of the 44-day annual yatra to the 3,880 metre high holy cave shrine of Amarnath in south Kashmir Himalayas.
Over 3.58 lakh visited the cave shrine since the commencement of the yatra which is scheduled to end on August 10 with the arrival of `Chhari mubarak`, holy mace of lord Shiva, at the cave which houses the naturally formed ice-shivlingam.
Keeping with the past practice, the Chhari-Pujan was performed at Dashnami Akhara - the abode of the holy mace - in the heart of the city with religious fervour and gaiety under the supervision of its custodian Mahant Dependra Giri, an official spokesman said.
The Chhari-Pujan is an age old tradition which is performed every year at Dashnami Akhara temple on the day of `Nag Panchhami` which marks the beginning of the culmination phase of the annual yatra.
Large numbers of Sadhus and pilgrims participated in the special prayers and had darshan of holy Mace, the spokesman said adding the devotees also observed `Bhajan-Keertan` on the occasion.
He said Chhari mubarak is scheduled to join the yatra on August 6 along with hundreds of sadhus.
"The holy mace will be taken by Mahant Giri to Pahalgam en route to the cave on Wednesday. After night halts at Pahalgam, Sheshnag and Panchtarani, the holy mace will reach the cave shrine on August 10 marking the conclusion of the annual yatra," he said.
The spokesman said as many as 2,387 devotees paid obeisance at the cave today, taking the number of pilgrims who had performed the yatra this year to 3,58,051.