Lotus – the final arbiter of Amarnath Yatra

Srinagar: The first jattha of Amarnath pilgrims is supposed to leave the base camp Pahalgam at 4 in the morning every day. But it is the weather forecast that decides whether the pilgrims start their arduous journey or not. And no one understands Kashmir’s weather better than Sonam Lotus, the director of Meteorology, J&K for the past 10 years.

For years the pilgrims and the authorities have been relying on the weather forecast of Kashmir’s weatherman Sonam Lotus to decide the journey schedule. Lotus gets up at 3.30 every morning, gathers accurate information about the weather and conveys his forecast to the authorities at the base camp. Then a decision is taken about starting the journey.

People call him Pir

Pir Lotus with J&K Guv NN Vohra

People trust Lotus because his forecasts are almost always correct. He is treated like a saint and addressed as ‘Pir Lotus’. He has an almost cult following in the state. Lotus is the director of meteorology, J&K.

Whether they have to book an air ticket or fix the date of marriage, people make it a point to seek his advice. The residents of his village in Ladakh even phone him to ask when should they set out to search a child who has gone missing. For the treacherous weather can make the list of missing persons longer.

‘Best Employee’ 

Lotus was born in Ladakh. Recently, the Ministry of Earth Sciences conferred the Best Employee Award on him. Lotus distributed the cash component of the award among his team members and three health societies of J&K and Ladakh. He said he did so to inspire others.

Lotus has been trained in meteorology abroad. He had cleared the UPSC examination in 2005 to enter the Indian Meteorolgical Service.

(Story: Upmita Vajpayee)