Amarnath Yatra: A batch of 673 pilgrims on Monday left winter capital Jammu to perform the ongoing Amarnath Yatra. “Another batch of 673 yatris left Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas at 2.50 a.m. in an escorted convoy of 24 vehicles for the Valley today,” officials said here. Since the 40-day long Amarnath Yatra started on June 29, Monday’s batch of 673 pilgrims is the lowest number of pilgrims leaving Jammu for the Valley. So far, over 2.40 lakh pilgrims have performed the yatra and had ‘darshan’ inside the cave shrine situated 3,888 m above the sea-level in Kashmir Himalayas.
The cave houses an ice stalagmite structure that waxes and wanes with the size of the visible moon. Devotees believe the ice stalagmite structure symbolizes mythical powers of Lord Shiva. The ‘Chari Mubarak’ (Lord Shiva’s Mace) was yesterday taken to the Shankaracharya Temple in Srinagar for prayers. The Chari Mubarak will ultimately be taken to the cave shrine after a series of ‘pujas’ at different places on the traditional south Kashmir Pahalgam route.
The yatra will conclude with the arrival of the Chari Mubarak at the cave shrine in the morning on August 7 on Shravan Purnima coinciding with Raksha Bandhan festival. So far 48 pilgrims have died during this year’s yatra.Of these, eight were killed in a terror attack on a yatra bus at Batengo on the Srinagar-Jammu National Highway in Anantnag district on July 10.
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As many as 17 pilgrims died in a road accident on the Jammu-Srinagar national highway in Ramban district on July 16, while 23 died of natural causes. Over 35,000 security personnel have been deployed for the protection of the pilgrims.