Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh flagged Annual Buddha Amarnath yatra from Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas, here today.
The first batch of 1,088 pilgrims including 642 males, 405 females and 41 children left the base camp early this morning in a convoy of 33 vehicles.
The pilgrims hailing from all over the country including 854 from Gujarat, 61 from Tamil Nadu, 109 from Bihar, 37 from Karnataka, 12 from Himachal Pradesh and 15 from other states left the base camp for paying obeisance at the holy shrine of Lord Shiva located in village Rajpura in tehsil Mandi of Poonch district.
Speaking on the occasion, the Deputy CM said that the yatra will proceed towards Poonch and then, the yatris will go to Shiv Khori.
Elaborating the arrangements put in place by the administration for the convenience of the yatris this year, Dy CM said that Government has taken various initiatives for promoting pilgrim tourism in the state. He also said that concerted efforts are afoot to improve infrastructural facilities at all places of tourist attraction across the state so as to harness the tourism potential of the unexplored tourism sites.