J&K’s Ramban dishes out a pan-Indian spread for Amarnath pilgrims during their unexpected night halt

With thousands of Amarnath pilgrims bound for Kashmir making overnight stops at various places in Ramban, the most challenging 66 km stretch of National Highway-44 that winds through the hilly region has for the first time set the stage for the meeting of different cultures from India.

It all started on Wednesday evening, when vehicles carrying Amarnath pilgrims and tourists who were not part of the convoy which was stopped by Governor Manoj Sinha at Bhagwati Nagar in Jammu in the morning were passing through the Navayuga Tunnel on their way to Kashmir, suddenly they were forced to move and the police and security forces returned Next to Banihal after a confrontation between security forces and militants in Kulgam area.

Afraid of getting stuck on the highway, some 6000-7000 people, mostly pilgrims, gathered on the vast ground lit by LED lights in Lamber, near Toll Plaza, in Banihal. Within an hour, they were in for a pleasant surprise with restaurants lined up ready to serve up a free vegan dinner with an array of delicious dishes from all over the country.

A view of Amarnath pilgrims having dinner at Langar near Banihal Toll Plaza in Lamber in the Ramban district. (Express Photo)

Officers in the Ramban district administration said that they enjoyed the cuisine of southern, northern, eastern and western parts of India during dinner there, and that these people were having a festive time before resuming their journey early the next morning.

Two Lashkar-e-Taiba fighters were killed in the face of Kulgam. As the meeting site was “too close” to the pilgrimage route, authorities decided not to allow pilgrims and tourists in Amarnath to head into the valley after 1.30pm and 3pm, and deadlines had been set for crossing Chanderkote at Ramban and Lamber at Banihal, respectively.

On previous occasions, a large number of pilgrims used to head to Kashmir during the day following the crossing of the official Yatra caravan through the Ramban district. However, the officers said that in view of the increased threat of militants this time around, they had decided not to allow anyone to drive towards Kashmir outside Chanderkot and Lamber after the stoppage ended. Apart from other security measures, the Shree Amarnathji Shrine Board has decided to issue RFID cards to pilgrims to monitor their locations.

“We stop all those arriving at Chanderkote from Jammu side after 1.30pm and ask them to stay at the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board Yatri Niwas constructed there or come back and stop for the night at Patnitop or Batote resort,” said a senior officer. He said those arriving in Banihal after 3pm are diverted to Lamber and are not allowed to cross the Navayoga Tunnel.

“On the first day when pilgrims and tourists who missed the deadline for the official Hajj caravan to cross Chanderkote towards Yatri Niwas were diverted after reports of the encounter, they were mesmerized by the spiritual atmosphere and beauty of the area, and also arrangements were made for them,” said a senior officer.

More than a dozen Langarans already established by social and religious organizations from different parts of the country were willing to serve them anything from South Indian to Punjab food and also delicacies from East and West India. The officer said there were 15-20 kinds of sweets alone.

Deputy Commissioner of Ramban, Misrat Islam said the Shree Amarnathji Yatri Niwas Mausoleum Council is a modern facility built on more than 23 canals of land on the banks of Chenab River at a cost of Rs 47 crore. It has the capacity to accommodate 3,630 pilgrims at one time. It was designed by Niteshwar Kumar, Principal Secretary of Uttora Governor and Executive Director of the Shree Amarnathji Shrine Board, and is one of the fastest completed projects in 14 months in the history of Jammu and Kashmir, he said, adding that Yatri Niwas contains a set of 17 dormitories In G+2 dimensions, each has all the modern facilities and features, including a barrier-free environment, modern toilets, fire extinguishing equipment, LED lights, etc.

The official caravan of yatra from Jammu first stops at Chanderkote around 7-7:30 in the morning where people are served breakfast. They have lunch at Lamper between 1.30 pm and 2 pm. To ensure that those who have already stopped at night in the Ramban area are not mixed up with the official caravan coming from Jammu in the morning, these people are made after having a light breakfast to resume their journey to Kashmir by 6am-6:30am from Chanderkot. The sources said that from 6:30 in the morning until 7 in the morning from Lamber in Banihal.

Apart from over a dozen Langars in Chanderkote Yatri Niwas and 21 in Lamber, there are many others from Nashri to Banihal. They do a daunting task, starting their day early in the morning to prepare breakfast, followed by lunch and dinner for thousands of pilgrims, including those arriving in the Yatra caravan from Jammu.

These langars are huge facilities set up by social and religious organizations under temporary tents to serve pilgrims. The langars in Rajpura and Sirsa feed 6000 to 7000 people daily. The officers said their mission would be doubled as they would now receive pilgrims returning to Jammu after Darshan at the Shree Amarnath shrine in southern Kashmir in the Himalayas.

With people from all over the country stopping at different places in Ramban district and Langar crew serving them ethnic cuisine from different states, NH-44’s 66 km stretch is nothing but Little India, said Masarat Islam, who said he intends to use these facilities. To promote tourism.

Leave a Comment