First Ever ‘Adi Amarnath Yatra’ Planned In 2019 In Uttarakhand’s Niti ValleyIce Shivlinga At Amarnath in Jammu and Kashmir. (Representative image) (Gktambe via Wikimedia Commons)

Uttarakhand, which draws a huge number of pilgrims for its Char Dham Yatra, is likely to hold an ‘Adi Amarnath yatra’ on lines of the Amarnath Yatra, starting next year to Timmarsain in the Niti valley of Uttarakhand where ice takes the form of Shivlingas during the winters.

Niti valley in the Chamoli district of the state receives heavy snowfall during the winters leading to the formation of ice ‘Shivlingas’ at a cave in Timmarsain, which is situated at a distance of nearly one kilometre from the Niti village.

Local residents believe that Lord Shiva rested at the site before heading to his abode Kailash and thus revere the site as ‘Adi Amarnath’ - an ancient form of Swayambhu (self-manifesting) shivlinga found in Amarnath in Jammu and Kashmir, Times of India has reported.

The ice shivlingas, according to local residents, starts forming in October every year and lasts till the end of the March.

Yogendra Kumar Gangwar, deputy director (Tourism) told the paper that the Yatra might start from Basant Panchami on 10 February next year and continue till 4 March.

Additional Commissioner (Garhwal) Harak Singh Rawat, who has sent a proposal to the state tourism department in this regard said 250 people will be allowed to visit ‘Adi Amarnath’ in the first year, adding that the number will increase in the proceeding years.

“Uttarakhand already has Char Dham Yatra that draws lakhs of tourists. We are planning to develop another religious tourism site in Uttarakhand through this yatra,” explained Rawat.

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