The number of pilgrims paying obeisance to the holy Amarnath shrine has started declining steadily in the past one week.In the last five days, the decline has been steep as the number of yatris has never crossed the mark 5,000 mark in a day.
The yatra has been particularly hit from the Baltal route, following closure of the route on couple of occasions due to inclement weather since the start of the yatra on July 2. In last fortnight, only 186 pilgrims opted for the Baltal track while prior to the bad weather conditions, on an average 5,000 pilgrims were coming from Srinagar to Baltal daily.
The 14km Baltal route is the preferred route as most pilgrims return on the same day after performing darshan. Pilgrims prefer it over the 34km Pahalgam-Chandanwari route, which is a two-night stay journey and takes double the time.
Also, there were reports that the Ice-Lingam inside the cave has started melting, which, too, has led to the dip in the pilgrimage.
Moreover, it has been witnessed that the yatra tends to slow down after first 15 days and the duration of the yatra seems to be have no bearing on the total tally. Majority of the pilgrims tend to perform darshan during the initial period of the yatra, when the Ice-Lingam is in its full glory.
This year the yatra is for 59 days, last year, it was 44-day and in 2013, it was for 55 days.
After first fortnight, the Ice-Lingam starts melting and pilgrims try to have darshan in the initial period of the yatra.
The Amarnath Yatra could not match the figure of 2011 and 2012, when 6.21 lakh and 6.30 lakh pilgrims visited the cave shrine respectively. After 2012, it has seen decline as in 2013, only 3.55 lakh visited the holy cave.
The yatra has also been declining ever since the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board has fixed the daily cap of 16,000 yatris. Earlier, even 50,000 pilgrims have performed darshan in a single day.
Last year, 3.72 lakh yatris performed darshan.
This year with the ongoing trend, it is unlikely the number of pilgrims will cross 4 lakh mark.
Meanwhile, on the 28th day of the ongoing Amarnath Yatra on Wednesday, 3,301 pilgrims paid obeisance to the holy cave. Till Wednesday, 3,07,295 pilgrims had visited the Ice-Lingam.