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Landslides in Jammu and Kashmir suspend Amarnath Yatra

The landslides were triggered by incessant rains in Ramban district, a senior official of the traffic department told IANS

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Jammu and Kashmir (Representational Image). Image Source: zeenews.india.com
  • The strategic Jammu-Srinagar national highway was closed on Thursday due to landslides, resulting in the suspension of Amarnath Yatra
  • The over 300-km long Jammu-Srinagar highway is the lifeline of supplies for the landlocked Kashmir Valley and the only surface link for the Amarnath Yatra pilgrims to reach the valley
  • Incessant rains in Jammu has swollen most rivers in the region

The strategic Jammu-Srinagar national highway was closed on Thursday due to landslides, resulting in the suspension of Amarnath Yatra.

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The landslides were triggered by incessant rains in Ramban district, a senior official of the traffic department told IANS here, adding that the yatra has been suspended till the highway is restored for traffic.

Landslides suspended Amarnath yatra. Image Source: www.udayavani.com
Landslides suspended Amarnath yatra. Image Source: www.udayavani.com

The over 300-km long Jammu-Srinagar highway is the lifeline of supplies for the landlocked Kashmir Valley and the only surface link for the Amarnath Yatra pilgrims to reach the valley.

Incessant rains in Jammu has swollen most rivers in the region.

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Three persons including two children in Janipur area of Jammu city and a woman in Rajouri district were killed by flash floods on Wednesday. (IANS)

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Ancient Hindu Temple Changu Narayan in Nepal Possesses Historical Significance

Changu Narayan is a sacred Hindu temple in Nepal and was built in the memory of Lord Vishnu

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Changu Narayan Temple is an ancient Hindu temple in Nepal. Source: Wikimedia Commons
  • Changu Narayan is considered to be the oldest temple in Nepal
  • It is based on a high hilltop know was Changu or Dolagiri
  • It is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and has an interesting tale behind it

New Delhi, July 14, 2017: The ancient Hindu temple Changu Narayan is situated on the top of a high hill well known as Changu or Dolagiri. The temple had a neighboring forest of champak tree and a small village called Changu and is situated in Bhaktapur District, Nepal.

The hill is about 7 miles or 12 km east of Kathmandu and a few miles north of Bhaktapur. This holy place “changu narayan Temple” is devoted to Lord Vishnu and held in admiration by the people of Hindu religion. Changu Narayan is believed to be the oldest temple in Nepal’s history. Bhaktapur king established kingdoms in Kashmir and kept it as Hindu kingdom.

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“changu narayan Temple” has a very intriguing story behind its existence. In old times, a Gwala, a cow herder, was given a cow by a Brahmin whose name was Sudarshan. The cow was believed to produce milk in large quantities. The cow herder used to take the cow for grazing to Change, which was a Champak trees forest that time. The cow was always found under a particular tree’s shade while grazing. In the evening, when the Gwala started milking the cow at his house, he received only a negligible quantity of milk. This continued for a number of days. He was disappointed and told the Brahmin about the cow not giving enough quantity of milk. After seeing this incident with his eyes, Sudarshan agreed and they decided that they should examine the cow while her grazing activity was being undertaken.

Changu Narayan Temple, east side, with the griffin (stone sculpture) left at the entrance. Source: Wikimedia

Both of them hid behind the trees and observed the cow. They noticed that a small black boy who had come out of the tree started feeding himself with the milk. This infuriated the two men as they thought of the boy as a demon and the tree as its home.

So the champak tree was cut down by the Brahmin. While he was doing this, he saw human blood come out of the champak tree. Both Brahmin and Gwala presumed they had done a crime and started crying.

Lord Vishnu suddenly emerged and told the Gwala and Brahmin, the mistake was not theirs and began narrating the story of him committing a crime by unknowingly murdering Sudarshan’s father while forest hunting. Afterward, he was cursed and he wandered on his mouth, as ‘Garuda’ descending on the Changu hill where he survived on stolen milk. The cutting down of the tree by Brahmin beheaded Vishnu and freed him from his sins.

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Following this incident, Brahmin and Gwala started worshiping that place and built a small temple of Lord Vishnu. That place has been considered sacred ever since. Even today, Sudarshan’s descendant is one of the priest of that temple and the Gwala’s descendants as conservators.

People belonging to Newar community reside in and around the area of Changu Narayan. Due to tourism development in this area, we can locate many hotels, souvenir shops, restaurants etc.

However, this holy temple “changu narayan” faces a lot of challenges and threats. The Manohara stream has witnessed rampant mining of sand and stones. The local administration has failed to cut down the mining activities. Due to these mining activities, the temple area has become prone to landslides. Because of overgrazing in the nearby forest, the chances of soil erosion and landslide have become very high.

– prepared by Harsimran Kaur of NewsGram. Twitter @Hkaur1025

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Manmade Urban Flooding: Poor Drainage, Plastic Clogging Contribute to floods, Say Experts

Steps such as rainwater harvesting, ban on use of plastic bags and better use of weather forecasts will go a long way in helping tackle flooding in cities after rains

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Urban flooding
Heavy monsoon in Mumbai in August 2005. Wikimedis

New Delhi, Sep 11, 2017: Urban floods are entirely manmade with poorly maintained drains, plastic bags, shrinking open spaces and climate change contributing to accumulation of water on roads after a heavy downpour, experts say.

They said that steps such as rainwater harvesting, ban on use of plastic bags and better use of weather forecasts will go a long way in helping tackle flooding in cities after rains.

Heavy downpours have been disrupting normal life in almost all metro cities in India, with Mumbai bearing the brunt last month which led to death of at least six persons.

Experts said a range of factors including rapid migration to urban areas and “lackadaisical attitude” of civic authorities were among the factors that contribute to cities coming to a standstill after heavy rains.

They said citizens also have to behave responsibly and ensure that plastic bags or used food plates are not thrown in the open or in the neighbourhood drains.

V.K. Sharma, Senior Professor of Disaster Management at the Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA), said the cities need a proper system of garbage collection and sewage disposal and regular cleaning of drains.

“It is true that poor drainage and sewage system is the real cause of urban flooding. There is also migration to cities which often leads to land encroachment and exerts pressure on the existing civic infrastructure,” Sharma told IANS.

Sharma said the urban planning has to have a long-term perspective and infrastructure should keep pace with growth of population. He said rain water harvesting should be made mandatory.

“There is also the need of fixing accountability of government officials and municipal authorities if drains are not properly cleaned. Strict penalties should be imposed on people throwing garbage in the open,” he said.

He said steps have been taken at some places to ban use of plastic bag but it should be enforced strictly.

“There is need to make people aware. This will also meet the larger goal of cleanliness,” he said.

Sharma said that prediction of the meteorological department are fairly accurate and authorities can issue timely alerts to people in case there is prediction of very heavy rainfall.

“This will also help prevent loss of life,” he said.

Santosh Kumar, a professor at the National Institute of Disaster Management with expertise in disaster risk reduction and policy planning, said climate change was also a factor in cities getting excessive rainfall.

“Urban flooding occurs when water flows into an urban region faster than it can be absorbed into the soil. Earlier, a city received such amount of rainfall in two to three weeks,” Kumar said, referring to Mumbai getting 350 mm rainfall on August 29-30.

He said the cities do not have spaces to absorb the excess water or to store it.

“Rapid urbanisation, industrialisation and population growth have also contributed to drainage systems getting congested. These drains are not able to take the pressure of huge water accumulated due to heavy rain, leading to waterlogging,” Kumar told IANS.

He said steps should be taken to improve garbage disposal and ensure that plastics do not find their way to drains.

“Urban ecosystems comprising marshlands, wetlands, lakes and rivers have steadily deteriorated,” Kumar added.

Vinod Kumar Jain, director of NGO Tapas which works in revival of water bodies in Delhi, said “water harvesting can play a significant role in reducing the chances of flooding in urban areas.”

Rainwater harvesting refers to trapping and storing rainwater so that it can be used at a later time when the need arises.

Heavy rainfall in Delhi last month had flooded roads and caused huge traffic snarls. On August 19, many parts of Chandigarh were flooded due to heavy rains. Chennai had witnessed severe flooding in 2015 while floods in Mumbai in 2005 had killed over 500 people. (IANS)

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Amarnath Yatra: Adhere to these Do’s and Dont’s While on the Pilgrimage

Here are the Amarnath Yatra safety tips to adhere in order to ensure a safe pilgrimage to the baba amaranth shivling mounted on 13,000 feet height

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Amarnath Yatra
Amarnath Yatra. Wikimedia

July 13, 2017:

Amarnath Yatra is known to be one of the most difficult pilgrimages in India due to a plethora of reasons. Amongst many reasons, frequent terrorist attacks on Amarnath raises the level of complexity and challenges for the pilgrims. The area also extends to the land of Jammu & Kashmir, which has beheld tensions of late.

In the wake of the terror attack on the bus carrying Amarnath yatris on Monday, it is important to acquaint people with the Amarnath Yatra’s dos and don’ts. The bus that was attacked recently was neither registered with the Sri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) nor adhered to the security details obligatory for the sojourners with respect to the terror threat.

 The Amarnath Yatra is open for the Shiva devotees from June 29 to August 7, 2017.
Here are the Amarnath Yatra safety tips in order to ensure a safe pilgrimage to the ‘Baba Amaranth Shivling’ mounted on 13,000 feet height.

Do’s

  • The temperature may fall up to 5 degree Celsius, hence it is advised to carry sufficient Wollen Clothes.
  • The Yatra bus carrying the pilgrims is prohibited after 7 pm. One must carry the yatra permit and requisite papers all the time with themselves.
  • One must keep in their pocket a note containing the name/address, a mobile telephone number of any yatri progressing for darshan on the same dates for emergency purposes.
  • Travel in groups rather in isolation.
  • In the case of any mishap or sudden emergency situation, immediately contact the nearest Camp Director / Mountain Rescue Teams (MRTs) stationed at various locations.
  • Ensure that the pony man or the person who carries your luggage is registered with the police and carries an identity card.
  • Pre-paid SIM Cards from the states outside J&K do not work in the yatra area. Yatris can obtain pre-activated SIM Cards at the base camps of Baltal and Nunwan.
  • Do carry medicines for cold, fever, vomit and first aid kit with you while taking the pilgrimage.

ALSO READ: Muslim driver’s Presence of Mind saves 50 Amarnath Yatra Pilgrims during the Terror Attack 

Dont’s

  •  Inside the cave, incense stick and diyas are not allowed as it raises the temperature which also melts the frosted mercury shivling.
  • Children below 13 years, pregnant women and elderly citizens over 75 years are forbidden to carry the pilgrimage.
  • Don’t try short cut routes to the holy cave. It might lead to danger.
  • Do not take any polyethene material as it is banned in J&K and punishable under law.
  • Do not wear slippers or loose sandals while trekking to the holy cave as the route has falls and tilts. It is advised to wear trekking shoes for the yatra.
  • Women to avoid wearing saree as the Amarnath yatra route becomes difficult in the later stages.
  • Lastly, respect the environment and do not pollute the land of Shiva while taking the Amarnath Yatra

– by Naina Mishra of Newsgram. Twitter: @Nainamishr94