Amaranth Yatra for the year 2022 started on Wednesday (June 29). The Yatra will end on 13 August, spanning over 43 days. Amarnath Yatra is revered by Hindus who assemble at Pahalgam and Baltal base camps (located at UT of Jammu and Kashmir) for proceeding to the sacred cave. The level of devotion can be judged by the fact that pilgrims travel approx. 50 kms (from Pahalgam base camp) on a rugged, steeping mountain path, either on foot or on ponies. Majority of pilgrims choose to travel by foot as a mark of devotion. Amarnath Yatra is synonymous with Hindu religion. This Yatra is undertaken by Hindu pilgrims from all over the country to pray at the Shivling formed in a cave in the summer months. The pilgrims trek in extremely difficult conditions to reach the holy site. Although synonymous with Hinduism, very few people know about the Muslim connection with Amarnath Yatra.
The very existence of Amarnath Yatra is a living proof that the brotherhood prevailing between Hindus and Muslims will never be shaken, no matter how hard the hate mongers try to disturb it. The revered Amarnath Cave was discovered in 1850 by a Muslim shepherd named Buta Malik. According to a legend, during one of his shepherding days at mountains, Buta came across a Sufi saint who gave him a bag filled with coal. After returning home, Buta found that the coal has turned into gold. He returned back to the mountains to show his gratitude to the Sufi saint. In interesting turn of events, Buta failed to find the Sufi Saint but stumbled upon the cave and its famous Shivling. It was as if the Sufi Saint wanted Buta Malik to find the cave. Thereafter, the family of Buta Malik became the traditional custodian of the shrine along with some priests of Purohit Mahasabha and Dashnami Akhara. In today’s compelling circumstances when tolerance limit for inter religious beliefs has fallen to a new low, the amazing case of Hindu-Muslim bonhomie in managing the Amarnath Shrine (till 2000) provides a much needed relief and must be given due publicity, so that each and every Indian get to know about it.
Although, the then J&K government (2000) took away the management of Amarnath Shrine from the family of Buta Malik and other Hindu organisations, the beautiful history of the revered pilgrimage site, promoting communal harmony must not be allowed to fade away. Instances like these keep the Syncretic Culture of India alive and show the world that the diversity of India is its strength and those trying to convert it into weakness will never succeed.