Amarnath Yatra: About 5,000 yatris leave base camps for holy cave in Kashmir

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About 5,000 pilgrims, including women and sadhus, on Monday left Baltal and Nunwan Pahalgam base camps for the holy Amarnath cave shrine in south Kashmir Himalayas, where over 1.87 lakh yatris have paid obeisance so far since the commencement of the 60-day-long annual pilgrimage from June 28, meanwhile a fresh batch of nearly 2,500 pilgrims today left for the cave shrine of Amarnath in south Kashmir Himalayas, officials said from Jammu.

However, during the pilgrimage, 22 yatris and two service providers died due to health reasons and accidents and landslides during the yatra.

The annual yatra is progressing smoothly from shortest Baltal and traditional Nunwan Pahalgam base camps and the weather is pleasant though sky was also cloudy in the morning, official sources said.

About 11,331 yatris paid obeisance at the holy cave during the past 24 hours. With this, a total of 1,87,375 pilgrims had darshan of the self made Ice-Shivlingam at the cave shrine, situated at 14,000 feet above sea level. Since early this morning more pilgrims, including women and sadhus, are arriving from nearby halting stations to pay obeisance.

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A fresh batch of about 3,100 yatris left Baltal early Monday morning for cave shrine. The yatris are scheduled to reach the cave shrine in the afternoon after covering the 14-km-long hilly track on foot. Meanwhile, pilgrims who had darshan yesterday have also started their return journey to base camp since early this morning.

Source said a fresh batch of over 1,700 pilgrims also left Nunwan Pahalgam base camp for Chandanwari, the last motorable halting station on traditional route.

Meanwhile, pilgrims who had night halt at Chandanwari and other halting stations on the track have also started their journey towards the cave shrine since early this morning.

Majority of the pilgrims, who had darshan so far have returned to their homes while others are visiting tourist destinations in the valley.

Meanwhile,  the yatra commenced from the twin tracks of Baltal in Ganderbal and Pahalgam in Anantnag district on June 28 and till last evening 1,87,375 pilgrims had visited the cave shrine to pay obeisance.

The yatra is expected to cross the two lakh mark either by this evening or tomorrow, depending on the rush of pilgrims, the officials said.

They said the fresh batch of pilgrims including 537 women and 100 ‘sadhus’ left the Bhagwati Nagar base camp for Kashmir in a convoy of 86 light and heavy vehicles and a motorcycle under tight security in the early hours.

The officials said 715 pilgrims including 203 women, who have opted for the shorter 12-km Baltal route, were the first to leave the camp at around 0250 hours followed by 1,740 pilgrims including 334 women and 100 ‘sadhus’ who boarded 60 vehicles and a motorcycle for the traditional 36-km Pahalgam track.

The yatra is scheduled to conclude on August 26 coinciding with the ‘Raksha Bandhan’ festival.