More services for pilgrims at Shri Amarnath Ji Yatra 2023
Vishav Mana Ruhani Kendra (VMRK) initially received approval to send three ambulances and provide a professional medical team for the Shri Amarnath Ji Yatra 2023. A few days before the pilgrimage commenced, the Camp Director at Baltal requested VMRK to provide an additional service. They needed a 4×4 emergency ambulance to be stationed at Brarimarg. Read more in our blog post Serving pilgrims at Shri Amarnath Ji Yatra 2023. As the yatra progressed, VMRK was asked to provide even more services. The map above shows the locations of VMRK services throughout the region.
Medical camp at Brarimarg
Soon after the pilgrimage started, the local authorities were pleased with VMRK’s range of services and granted VMRK permission to set up a free medical camp at Brarimarg in Baltal. Brarimarg lies exactly midway between the Amarnath Holy Cave and Baltal Base Camp. It is about 6 kms from the Amarnath Holy Cave.
On July 13, 2023, VMRK sent a team of 8 volunteers and 2 fitters from Nawan Nagar to Baltal. The team brought all the materials required to set up the campsite as well as the medical equipment needed to operate the medical camp.
- metal pillars & beams
- 10 oxygen cylinders
- 2 ECG machines
- 1 multipara monitor
- 5 two-fold stretchers
On reaching Baltal, the team faced the challenge of bringing the materials and medical equipment to Brarimarg. By then, the yatra was in full-swing and the narrow mountainous path was crowded with throngs of pilgrims. This made it dangerous and impossible to transport the large items like tent materials and metal pillars and beams to the designated camp location. Instead, the team loaded the medical equipment, medicines, and other essentials onto mules. The team then took a steep hike on the narrow mountainous path to reach the site at Brarimarg that had been allotted for the camp.
The designated location is situated in a very limited space on the side of the mountain, right off the pilgrims’ path. Being a mountainous area, there was no readily available site to set up the tent for the medical camp. VMRK’s team spent a few days leveling the ground on the allotted site to make it suitable. Then, the medical camp had to be customized to fit into the confined space. Fortunately, the administration provided three tents that the team gladly made use of. One tent measuring 14×21 feet was set up to provide enough space to comfortably accommodate 4 tables, 4 chairs, 4 stools, and 3 beds.
VMRK also assembled a professional medical team of doctors, paramedics, and nursing staff alongside a team of volunteers to assist and support the medical team. Since July 17, 2023, the medical team and supporting volunteers serve on rotation to operate the camp daily.
July 17, 2023
VMRK OPENED ITS FREE MEDICAL CAMP
2 doctors, 3-4 paramedical staff, and 4 volunteers daily
PILGRIMS RECEIVED MEDICAL CARE BY AUGUST 15
Passenger vehicles to provide a shuttle service
The trek to the Amarnath Holy cave and back is very physically demanding and many pilgrims are exhausted by the end of their long yatra. To provide some relief to the pilgrims, local authorities requested VMRK to provide a shuttle service from the endpoint at Domail to the parking area at Baltal axis. VMRK started operating this 3-kilometer shuttle service on July 4, 2023.
Every day, the yatra starts very early in the morning. Typically, pilgrims take more than 12 hours to complete the journey and return to Domail. Some pilgrims stay overnight on the way and return the next day. VMRK’s shuttle service operates daily from 1pm in the afternoon and continues late into the night until 1am the next morning.
The journey from the endpoint at Domail to the parking area takes 30 minutes and each shuttle trip accommodates 15 pilgrims. Right from the start, the shuttle service proved popular with the pilgrims. Even with 2 drivers on duty, this service could not keep up with the many pilgrims wanting to avail this facility. Many had to contend with waiting for the vehicle to come back.
To meet the high demand, VMRK sent 2 more vehicles, each with a 30-passenger capacity. The additional services started on July 15, 2023. Altogether, the 3 vehicles can now transport 75 pilgrims per trip. VMRK volunteers are on hand to manage the queues and help pilgrims get on and off the vehicle.