The Indian Climate Change Tipping Point (update)

by Devanshu Mehta

For the second year in a row, “the ice stalagmite of immense importance to Hindus- the Shivalinga of Amarnath- has melted”:http://www.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=88957 completely at the beginning of the pilgrimage season.
Shivalinga at Amarnath taken by Mr. Gangadhar Tambe

Scientists say the melting is due to increased temperatures due to climate change and to the heat generated by increasing numbers of pilgrims flocking to the site, located at an altitude of 3,800 metres.

Last year, elements in the _Shri Amarnath Shrine Board_ had “replaced it with a crude fake”:http://www.sepiamutiny.com/sepia/archives/003495.html but “did not get away with”:http://www.dnaindia.com/report.asp?NewsID=1036492 it. “Sepia Mutiny”:http://www.sepiamutiny.com/sepia/archives/003495.html has great before and after photographs from last year.

Even if this is not the work of true climate change caused by human actions, I hope it brings the issue front and center in Indian politics and the Indian conscience. Nothing is quite as tangible as the prospect of losing a 5000 year-old religious The “Amarnath Yatra”:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amarnath (pilgrimage) is one of the most popular sites for Hindus and in spite of “the constant terrorist threat”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/2176165.stm close to “400,000 people visit”:http://www.hindu.com/2005/04/17/stories/2005041706750700.htm during the 45 day season between July and August each year.

*UPDATE*:
“Daily News and Analysis India”:http://www.dnaindia.com/report.asp?NewsID=1107641 claims that the site is not an ancient Hindu holy place, but one popularized within the last century.

It was discovered through an accident by a Muslim shepherd a little more than a century ago. When Jawaharlal Nehru made the trip as he mentions in his Autobiography sometime in the early part of the last century, it was still not a popular pilgrimage. […] The numbers grew by humongous proportions — from a few thousand to a few hundred thousand — through the 1990s.

“Wikipedia”: claims there is another legend:

Another legend says that an Hindu rishi, Kashyap drained the lake of Kashmir and found the cave along with the lingam in it. This latter legend might be alluding to the geological transformation of this region, when the massive sea in this part was compressed by the Indian geological plate to form the Himalayas.

Hindus trace their lineage quite closely and I’m told Kashyap is an ancestor of my mother, so I support this theory!

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