A fresh batch of 1,782 pilgrims on Wednesday left Jammu to participate in the ongoing Amarnath Yatra in the Kashmir Valley.”The batch left Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas in an escorted convoy of 62 vehicles at 3.40 a.m. today (Wednesday) for the valley,” an official said here. Since it began on June 29, over 2.20 lakh pilgrims have performed this year’s Amarnath Yatra which will conclude on August 7 on Shravan Purnima coinciding with the Raksha Bandhan festival.
The cave shrine situated 3,888 m above the sea-level in Kashmir’s Himalayas houses an ice stalagmite structure that waxes and wanes with the size of the visible moon. Devotees believe the ice stalagmite structure symbolises mythical powers of Lord Shiva.
So far, 44 pilgrims have died during this year’s yatra in the valley. Of these, 17 persons died on July 15 in a road accident on Jammu-Srinagar national highway, eight pilgrims were killed in the July 10 terror attack on a yatra bus at Batengo in Anantnag district, and 19 pilgrims died of natural causes.
Over 35,000 personnel drawn from the Army, Central Reserve Police Force, Sashastra Seema Bal, Indo-Tibetan Border Police and Jammu and Kashmir police have been deployed for the security of pilgrims.
The pilgrims approach the cave shrine either through the traditional 46-km long Pahalgam track or through the 14-km long Baltal track. Helicopter service is also available for the pilgrims on both the routes.