Kashmir: Amarnath shrine will soon be more accessible

In 2023, a ₹5,300 crore roadway project was approved

Updated - January 12, 2024 06:15 pm IST

Published - January 12, 2024 04:42 pm IST

Pilgrims on their way to the holy cave shrine of Amarnath.

Pilgrims on their way to the holy cave shrine of Amarnath. | Photo Credit: Nissar Ahmad

At 13,000 feet, the Amarnath shrine pilgrimage has, for decades, remained arduous. Under the Union Territory’s administration, the access routes to the shrine are witnessing a rare upscaling. The approval, in 2023, of a ₹5,300 crore roadway project will make the annual pilgrimage more accessible; the route will also be open for a longer period — perhaps all year round — as opposed to the current two-month duration.

The Amarnath shrine has two routes: on the traditional route in south Kashmir’s Pahalgam, a pilgrim would trek on a narrow stretch for 20 km; on the Baltal route in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal, people walk 14 km, along steep slopes, to reach the cave shrine. However, the Border Roads Organisation in 2023 created access to vehicles to drive up to the shrine. The tracks will soon be wider, and critical stretches will be upgraded with safety railings and retaining walls.

Several vulnerable stretches leading to the shrine have been widened and are now well-lit. Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister for road transport and highways, has approved a road project to the Amarnath shrine in Pahalgam. A 110 km-long Amarnath Marg, leading to the holy cave, will come up at a cost of around ₹5,300 crore. Now, the Northern Railways has also approved the construction of a special railway line from Anantnag to Pahalgam through the old town of Tral in Pulwama.

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