As one of the two routes of Amarnath shrine remains under snow this year, the annual pilgrimage will begin Saturday from shortest 14-km trek from Baltal in north-east of Srinagar under multi-tier security and hi-end round-the-clock electronic surveillance.
The scheduled 44-day long yatra on the Pahalgam route in south Kashmir, 90 km away from Srinagar, was put on a hold following accumulation of snow on patches of the 42-km trek route.
Two routes of Amarnath shrine
According to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB), the track between Sheshnag-Wavbal- Mahagunus Top -Poshpatri - Panjtarni was covered heavily with snow. "The snow level at Poshpatri-Mahagunus Top and Wavbal was between six to eight feet," said a SASB spokesman.
The shrine board will only allow pilgrimage from Sonmarg route, 100 km north-east of Srinagar, and the first batch of pilgrims on Friday left Jammu for the valley.
A multi-tier security has been set up on the twin routes for the shrine, situated at the height of 3,888 m (12,756 ft) above the sea level. Around 60 companies of the CRPF, including two women companies, will help the Jammu and Kashmir Police to maintain a constant vigil on the twin tracks. The BSF has called for additional 90 companies.
The police have installed closed circuit television (CCTv) to keep a constant vigil on all key locations, particularly the two entry gates where only registered pilgrims will be allowed to trek on a day.
"All important locations will be brought under round the clock surveillance, which include langars. CCTVs will be utilised to monitor the activities at busiest places," said director general of police K Rajendra.
The army has been alerted on the peripheries of the yatra route.
The board has fixed a ceiling of 7,500 pilgrims a day on the twin routes. It has set up access control gates on the routes onwards of the base camps for smooth pilgrimage. No unregistered pilgrim will be allowed to cross beyond Nunwan and Baltal Base camps.
Around 422 registration counters have been opened to register healthy pilgrims this year and avoid permission to those above 75 years or below 13 years.
The directorate of health services have set up a three-level mode health services, which include 10 Emergency Aid Centres (EAC), 10 Medical Aid Centres (MAC) and five Base Camp Hospitals.
"The facilities follow the Supreme Court guidelines of having a health facility at every two kilometers of the route," said Dr Saleem-ur-Rehmaan, director, health services.
The high-tech equipment procured for the yatra includes hyperbaric chambers, defibrillators, oxygen concentrators, automated chest compression systems, multi-parameter cardiac monitors and pulse oxymeters.
Around 307 medical personnel, including 81 doctors, will attend to medical needs of the pilgrims.
Duration of the yatra: 44 days
How long is the route in kms
- A pilgrim has to trek 34 km from Chandanwari in Pahalgam and 14 km trek from Baltal in Sonamarg.
- 15,000 pilgrims will be allowed to leave for the pilgrimage from the twin base camps on a particular day.
- 6,60,000 are expected to pay obeisance this year
- 60 companies of CRPF, 90 additional companies of BSF besides police personnel will man the routes
- Helicopter ride to the shrine costs between Rs. 2,425 and Rs. 3,800.