The 40th batch of 68 pilgrims — the smallest so far — today left the base camp here for the 3,880 metre high cave shrine of Amarnath in south Kashmir Himalayas, the police said. The pilgrims left the Bhagwati Nagar Base Camp in the early hours here under tight security arrangements, a police official said.
He said the pilgrims are scheduled to reach the twin base camps of Baltal in Ganderbal district and Nunwan-Pahalgam in Anantnag district later in the day.
While 55 of the pilgrims including six women are performing the yatra from the shortest 12-km Baltal route, the rest of the pilgrims including four women have opted for the 36-km traditional Pahalgam route, the official said.
The 60-day annual yatra commenced from the twin tracks on June 28 and is scheduled to conclude on August 26 coinciding with ‘Raksha Bandhan’ festival.
Till last evening, a total of 2,77,215 pilgrims had paid their obeisance at the cave shrine which houses the naturally formed ice-shivlingam.
However, the number of pilgrims undertaking the yatra has marked a sharp dip over the past fortnight owing to early melting of the naturally formed ice-shivlingam at the sanctum sanctorum.