Pilgrims, particularly those from the two Telugu States, trekking the challenging terrains to reach the holy shrine of Amarnath in Jammu and Kashmir, are now relishing homemade food, including ‘idlis’ and ‘dosas’ along with dal rice and desserts, that too for free.
Thanks to the Amarnath Annadaana Seva Samithi (AASS) from Siddipet Town, pilgrims from South India, in particular, do not have to miss their favourite food on the hilly terrain. Hot food is dished out free of cost at a ‘langar’, a community kitchen which was established by the members of AASS at Baltal base camp, 16 km away from the Amarnath cave, from July 1 when the yatra commenced.
Before the yatra began, AASS members led by founder president Chekoti Madhusudhan purchased essential commodities from Siddipet town and sent them to the Baltal base camp in lorries. Chefs from Karnataka and Telangana were also deputed to make arrangements to serve breakfast, lunch, tea, snacks and dinner every day till the completion of the yatra on August 15.
“We are presently providing food to more than 3,000 people every day at Baltal,” Madhusudhan said. AASS has drawn up plans to cover at least two lakh pilgrims. It’s not only pilgrims but also security personnel and locals who are enjoying hot ‘idlis’ and ‘dosas’ dished out during breakfast.Madhusudhan said he, along with 45 people from Siddipet, came to J&K in two buses to take part in the Amarnath yatra in 2010. “We faced several problems in getting homemade food. On seeing the problems being faced by pilgrims from South India, we mooted the idea of providing free food,” he explained.
However, most of them in his village did not extend support because of the climate and security concerns. Madhusudhan mustered courage and went to Baltal in 2011 and successfully served free food to devotees with the help of 10 members.
Since then, he has not looked back and started getting support from all quarters. He is now providing food to pilgrims every year. Taking part in the trekking will require more energy which will be generated only through having proper food and the AASS has succeeded in catering to the needs of pilgrims, he added.