Harmukh Gangbal Yatra in Jammu and Kashmir after 100 years

Harmukh Gangbal is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is located at an altitude of 12000 feet in Ganderbal District in Jammu and Kashmir in India. The pilgrimage to the Harmukh Gangbal Temple is a 3-day yatra and has been revived after a gap of 100 years. It is believed that the Harmukh Gangba Lake here is formed from the waters of Ganga flowing down from the hair locks of Lord Shiva. The yatra coincides with Ganga Dasara or Ganga Puja during the Shukla Paksha in Jyeshta Month, the day when Goddess Ganga is believed to have descended on to Earth.

Gangbal is also known as Harmukut Ganga and is an important pilgrim spot for Kashmiri Pandits. Ashes of the dead were immersed in the Lake by devotees in olden days as part of Tarpan rituals. Gangabal is the name of the Lake and Harmukut is a Mountain.

To reach the sacred lake one has to trek through a steep ladder-like path known as Yamhear meaning Lord Yama's ladder. Lord Yama is the God of Death in Hinduism and this particular name for the path to Harmukh Gangbal symbolically indicates that to reach the lake one has to undertake a tough and dangerous trek.

The Hindu Reports

"A batch of over 40 Kashmiri pandits today left for ancient Harmukh-gangbal yatra to the sacred lake in Kangan belt of Ganderbal district from here today," chairman of all party migrant coordination committee (APMCC) Vindood Pandit told reporters here.

The traditional three-day-long yatra has been revived as part of efforts to restore historic religious places which are of importance to Kashmiri pandits and preserve their cultural and religious history, he said.

Image courtesy Panoramio