Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Army chief General Bipin Rawat visited the Baltal Base Camp on Monday to review the security arrangements ahead of the Amarnath Yatra, earlier today. In 2017, 2.60 lakh pilgrims embarked on the journey which commences for 40 days annually to the Amarnath mandir or shrine in the south Kashmir. A terror attack on the pilgrims left eight devotees dead last year.
Sitharaman was earlier briefed on the three-tier security arrangements made for the Yatra that begins on June 28. Nearly 213 additional companies of the paramilitary forces were deployed to secure the 400 km-long route.
Baltal: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Army chief General Bipin Rawat visited Baltal Base Camp to review security arrangements for Amarnath Yatra, earlier today. #JammuAndKashmir pic.twitter.com/Gs1ea7hpfT
— ANI (@ANI) June 25, 2018
The pilgrims start from Jammu and go up to the two base camps of Baltal and Pahalgam. A 36 Km trek which takes about 4 days from Pahalgam then takes them to the Amarnath gufa or the cave shrine which is located at a height of 12,756 feet from the sea level. Or they have an option to take the 14 Km-long-one-way uphill trek from Baltal which can be covered in the same day.
In 2017, almost 2.2 lakh pilgrims visited the shrine, which is the second lowest in the past 14 years. Helicopter services are available for pilgrims on both Pahalgam and Baltal routes. The holy shrine houses an ice stalagmite structure revered by Hindus as having the mythical powers of Lord Shiva. The structure waxes and wanes corresponding to the visible moon.