The uniqueness of the Amarnath yartra is that each year the shivling, which is supposed to represent Lord Shiva, is formed naturally thanks to a trickle of water in the cave.
But unusually high temperatures this year did not permit the occurrence of this phenomenon.
So, the board in charge of the yatra, which sees hundreds and thousands of devotees undertake a tough journey to the caves to see the shivling, had the shivling made artificially with snow.
However, there is a stark difference between the natural and the artificial shivling.
In their defence, the shrine board says that the only reason for making a bigger shivling was to ensure that it can stay intact for the entire duration of the yatra.
Journey of faith
"All we can say is that this shivling has been made with the permission of the shrine board. Some of the pilgrims might be disappointed that it is not natural, but the majority are okay with it," says Shantilal Siddhi, a priest at the shrine Though the step has raised a controversy among the devotees who are queuing up to complete the pilgrimage and see the shivling, people appear to be accepting it. This is not a farce. If it were, then so many devotees would not come here every year," says Premlata Saraf, a devotee.The controversy over whether the shivling is artificial or natural doesn't seem to have stopped devotees from making the pilgrimage. It appears that as opposed to the destination, the journey in itself is what really matters to the pilgrims.