Improving All-Weather Access To Amarnath Shrine: Centre Starts Work On 22-km Road With Tunnel

by Amit Mishra - Jan 20, 2023 05:20 PM +05:30 IST
Improving All-Weather Access To Amarnath Shrine: Centre Starts Work On 22-km Road With Tunnel Amarnath Yatra

The Union government has put in motion its plan to construct an all-weather, 22-km road between Chandanwadi and Sangam Top, including a 11-kilometer Sheshnag Tunnel under the Ganesh top, to ease the journey of Amarnath pilgrims.

Additionally, this new road will allow commuters going from Jammu towards Ladakh to by-pass Srinagar town.

National Highways & Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited (NHIDCL), a specialized agency under the Ministry of Road, Transport & Highways (MoRT&H), has invited proposals for selection of Technical Consultant for construction of the 10.8-km-long twin tube Uni-directional tunnel under Ganesh top hill including the approach road.

The consultant will prepare Detailed Project Report (DPR), carry out pre-construction activity and supervise the project during construction and maintenance period.

According to the bid documents, the consultant will be given 10 months for the preparation of DPR and pre-construction activity will take about another two months. A period of 60 months - five years- has been earmarked for the construction of the road.

The 22.3-km-long Chandanwadi- Sangam Top greenfield road lies on Khanabal-Baltal section of NH-501 in Jammu & Kashmir. The new stretch will connect the south and north yatra routes via the highway tunnel.

Amarnath Shrine

Amarnath cave shrine in South Kashmir is considered to be one of the major Hindu Dhams and the abode of Lord Shiva.

Inside the main Amarnath Cave is found the Amarnath Ice Lingam of Lord Shiva.  This naturally formed Ice Linga grows in size during the months of May through August. During this time, pious people come from around the world for the annual pilgrimage and festival of the Amarnath Linga. The Amarnath Lingam is said to grow and shrink with the phases of the moon, reaching its height during the summer festival.

The Yatra Route

Situated in a narrow gorge at the farther end of Lidder Valley, Amarnath Shrine stands at 3,888 metres above sea level, and can be reached only on foot or by pony. 

There are two routes by which pilgrims can visit the holy site - through Pahalgam in South Kashmir’s Anantnag and Baltal in Central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district.

The Baltal route is a 14-km trek from Baltal to the shrine along a steep, winding mountain trail and can be covered in a day. Most people take the Baltal route because of its shorter distance.

Amarnath Yatra Route Map
Amarnath Yatra Route Map

The other is the Pahalgam route, which is approximately 46 km from the cave and takes 3-5 days to cover with night halts at Chandanwari, Sheshnag and Panchtarani. While this is a longer journey, it is a little easier and less steep.

The construction on the project is expected to start once the paper work is completed which will take about two years.

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