Whole of India is the land of spirituality and Jammu and Kashmir is no exception .J&K is the land of shrines ,temples ,mosques and because of this it is the shining example of communal harmony and religious amity.Again Jammu and Kashmir is the abode of gods and goddesses .One such place of great spiritual importance is Buddha Amarnath .Buddha Amarnath is the abode of Lord Shiva .Dedicated to Lord Shiva ,the Buddha Amarnath Temple in Raipur village in Mandi Tehsil of Poonch district is one of the oldest shrines of Jammu region and attracts a huge rush of devotees during the Yatra which concludes with the arrival of Charri Mubarak (holy mace) at the shrine of Dashnami Akhara Poonch.
Buddha Amarnath pilgrimage is a 10 day Yatra in the mountainous district of Poonch in Jammu and Kashmir .The first batch of pilgrims left Jammu base camp of Bhagwati Nagar for its onward journey to the Himalayan shrine in Poonch early morning of Friday. Ten day long Buddha Amarnath Yatra begins in Jammu amid tight security. Jammu and Kashmir administration flags off first batch of pilgrims for Buddha Amarnath Yatra from Jammu .J&K administration on Friday -19 August 2023 morning flagged off the first batch of pilgrims for Buddha Amarnath Yatra from Jammu and it was flagged by ADGP Jammu .The Bhoomi Pujan was performed in a traditional way on Thrusday .
A bhajan Sandhya was also organized by Sanskar Bharti ,Bajrang Dal national convenor Neeraj Doneria said that the first batch includes 1200 Yatris. Buddha Amarnath Temple ,dedicated to Hindu deity Shiva is one of the oldest shrines of Jammu region .The river Pulsata flows by the temple and is considered to be sacred where pilgrims take bath before paying obeisance to Lord Shiva in the temple .A mythological legend is associated with the river and it has been named after Rishi Pulsata ,grandfather of Ravana .Shivlinga of this temple unlike Amarnath cave is not natural but formed and made up of white stone. Buddha Amarnath shrine is older than the historical cave shrine of Amarnathji in Kashmir .
This ancient temple is popularly known for Raksha Bandhan Mela and Charri Mubark Yatra in which every year thousands of devotees from across India participate .High –level security measures have been put in place in Rajouri and Poonch to ensure a peaceful and incident free Yatra and all the boarding and lodging arrangements have been made by the administration .Amid tight security arrangements ,the 10 day Buddha Amarnath pilgrimage in the mountainous district of Poonch in Jammu and Kashmir begun on Friday with flagging off the first batch from Jammu .The first batch of pilgrims left from Jammu base camp at Bhgwati Nagar for its onward journey to Himalayan shrine in Poonch early morning .This pilgrimage is of ten days duration and is an example of communal harmony .
The people of different faiths take part and assist in Yatra and the Yatra season seems to be mini India and thus it is the shining example of unity in diversity and we should protect and uphold this doctrine and practical philosophy and let whole India emulate the communal harmony of example exhibited by Buddha Amarnath Yatra .The people all over India take part in this Yatra and pay obeisance and take blessings from Lord Shiva to whom this Yatra is dedicated. Buddha Amarnath ji Yatra has great importance for the people especially for Hindus who have great faith in the Lord Shiva .
Those people who for some reason cannot visit Amarnathji cave in Kashmir ,travel poonch for Buddha Amarnath Yatra as it is less difficult so far as the terrain and mountains are concerned .With each passing year the number of Yatris swell and it is so good .But the Jammu Kashmir government should develop ,advertise this pilgrim spot so that yatris in big numbers will travel to this place and undertake the mountanious yatra .Buddha Amarnath yatra and temple is very old and in fact older than the cave of Amarnathji of Kashmir Himalayas .
While in the south Kashmir district of Anantnag which has the distinction of having a big cave in the Himalayas where the natural shiv Lingha of ice is the attraction and thus there is natural ling which differentiates Amarnathji Kashmir and Buddha Amarnath in Jammu .Buddha Amarnathji is not a natural shrine but it is an old shiva temple in the mountains of poonch which is visited by a large number of devotees every year in the month of Shrawan particularly on the Shrawan Purnimashi that coincides with Raksha Bandhan .This year that is in 2023,Shrawan Purnima that is also called Raklsha Bandhan falls on 31st August .The government should encourage people to participate in Buddha Amarnath Yatra so that it will attract large number of devotees every year so that it will become a place of great public attention and people in large numbers will visit and undertake this spiritual journey so that it will gain prominence like the Amaranth cave shrine of Kashmir Himalays .
Thus the UT government through its tourism department should pay great attention to this religious tourist spot so that it will gain much and required popularity so that it will be visited by large number of people yearly in the month of Shrawan and otherwise also in other months of the year as well .Government needs to construct huts through the yatra route for the facility of yatris and also make adequate arrangements for the pilgrims so that Buddha Amarnathji shrine will become a famous spiritual tourism destination in India and abroad .The Jammu and Kashmir government should spend big amount of money for the development of this shrine and encourage people to join this pilgrimage in big numbers so that it will become a place of great prominence and devotees in large numbers will visit this shrine and this pilgrimage will become world famous like Amarnath cave situated in Himalays of south Kashmir .
In short Buddha Amarnath shrine is gaining popularity and the people in large numbers are visiting this shrine every year .But there is great need to encourage people across India to take part in this Yatra and pay obeisance to Lord Shiva who is omnipresent , omnipotent and omniscient .May Lord Shiva bring peace and prosperity to Jammu and Kashmir and may Buddha Amarnath ji shrine become a place of inter religious harmony and communal amity and people of Poonch deserve praise for participating in the yatra and facilitating in it .May this shrine devoted to Lord Shiva remove all darkness and bring light to us all so that it may become the harbinger of change ,peace and prosperity
(The author is a columnist, social and KP activist)