Amarnath Yatra: More pilgrims head to Kashmir, security tightened along route

Jammu: Another batch of 4,627 pilgrims left for Kashmir on Wednesday amid tight security to perform the ongoing Amarnath Yatra. Officials of Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) said the Yatra has been going on peacefully since it started on June 29. “Another batch of 4627 Yatris left Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas in Jammu for the Valley today in two escorted convoys. The first convoy left at 3.07 a.m. carrying 1,854 Yatris in an escorted convoy of 90 vehicles for the North Kashmir Baltal base camp. Second, an escorted convoy of 95 vehicles carrying 2,773 Yatris left at 3.33 a.m. for the South Kashmir Nunwan (Pahalgam) base camp,” officials said. After Monday’s terror attack in Kathua district of Jammu division, authorities have strengthened security on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway which is used by the Yatris to reach Kashmir. The Meteorological (MeT) department has forecast partially cloudy weather on both the Yatra routes with the possibility of light rain during the day. Yatris take either the 48 km long traditional Pahalgam route or the shorter 14 km long Baltal route to reach the cave shrine. Those using the Pahalgam route take four days to reach the cave shrine while those taking the Baltal route return to the base camp the same day after having ‘darshan’. The cave shrine situated at 3888 metres above sea level houses an ice stalagmite structure that wanes and waxes with the phases of the moon. Devotees believe that the ice stalagmite structure symbolises the mythical powers of Lord Shiva. Extensive arrangements for security have been made all along the nearly 300 km long Jammu-Srinagar highway, at the twin Yatra routes, the two base camps and the cave shrine to ensure a smooth, incident-free Yatra. Over 124 ‘langars’ (community kitchens) have been set up along both the routes and also at the transit camps and the cave shrine. Over 7,000 ‘sevadars’ (volunteers) are serving the Yatris during this year’s Yatra. Helicopter services are also available for the Yatris on both routes.

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