The annual Amarnath pilgrimage began on Wednesday amid tension and heavy deployment of security forces.
Tourism Minister Nawang Rigzin Jora flagged off a cavalcade of 53 vehicles carrying 1,272 pilgrims raising slogans of “bam bam bhole”.
It marked the start of the two-month pilgrimage that will pass through curfew-bound parts of the Valley before the mountainous climb to the shrine.
Security was provided by the CRPF, ITBT and Jammu and Kashmir police.
Undeterred by the tense situation in the Kashmir valley, authorities allowed the convoy to leave for the cave shrine in Anantnag district of south Kashmir.
“We are keeping an eye on the situation and have taken all precautions and, if need be, more steps would be taken to ensure a smooth yatra,” said Farooq Khan, DIG Jammu range.
On Tuesday, the yatra had seemed uncertain as the Valley was on the boil.
However, the pilgrims were determined, and the yatra was flagged off on the scheduled date and time — 5 am on Wednesday — by the tourism minister.
The CRPF has deployed 50 companies comprising 6,250 men and officers while the army has set up 97 area domination posts in and around the cave shrine in Lidder valley, besides Pahalgam and along the route in Anantnag, Ramban and Udhampur Districts.