First batch of Amarnath Yatris leave Jammu to begin pilgrimage
The cave shrine is located at 3,880 metres in South Kashmir Himalayas.Updated: Jun 30, 2019 15:28 IST
Amid tight security arrangements, a euphoric first batch of 2,234 pilgrims chanting “Bam Bam Bhole” left Yatri Niwas base camp in Jammu during wee hours of Sunday for the arduous Amarnath Yatra.
The cave shrine is located at 3,880 metres in South Kashmir Himalayas.
Advisor to the Governor K K Sharma flagged off the first convoy of 93 vehicles including three motorcycles, carrying the pilgrims.
The convoy was escorted by the CRPF security personnel.
Sharma said that all the necessary arrangements were in place to ensure peaceful and hassle-free yatra.
The 46-day long pilgrimage will officially start from the twin tracks of Baltal and Pahalgam from July 1 and it will conclude on August 15 coinciding with Raksha Bandhan.
“A total of 2234 pilgrims, including 17 children, left for the base camps of Pahalgam and Baltal, said an official at Yatri Niwas base camp.
“A total of 1228 pilgrims including 130 women, seven children and 45 Sadhus preferred the traditional Pahalgam route while 1006 devotees including 203 women and 10 children will undertake the yatra from Baltal side. Those undertaking Baltal route have been issued white coloured slips and those who will be proceeding from Pahalgam have been issued yellow coloured slips,” he said.
The pilgrims will reach the base camps by Sunday evening and after an overnight stay, will embark for their journey to the cave shrine on Monday morning, subject to fair weather conditions, he said.
CRPF, Jammu zone IGP, A V Chauhan, said, “All security agencies are involved and our primary concern is the safety of the pilgrims.”
As many as 2,85,006 lakh pilgrims had paid obeisance at the cave shrine last year, while the number of pilgrims was 3,52,771 in 2015, 3,20,490 in 2016 and 2,60,003 in 2017.
In 2017, at least eight pilgrims were killed and scores other were injured when armed terrorists opened fire on their bus in Anantnag district on July 10. The tourists hailed from Gujarat.
The pilgrims were equally enthusiastic to embark on their pilgrimage.
“I am ecstatic to pay obeisance at the cave shrine. I have come here for the first time and am really impressed by the arrangements, especially the security,” said Meenakshi Kambli, who has come along with five other members from Pune.
Another pilgrim Akshay Kumar, a techie from Bengaluru, said that he had come to seek the blessings of Lord Shiva.
“I had visited the cave shrine way back in 2011 and I feel lucky that the Lord has given me another opportunity to pay obeisance to Him,” added Kumar.
A special motor cycle squad of CRPF personnel with cameras fixed on the helmet, introduced last year to further strengthen the security of the pilgrims, accompanied the yatra convoy.
Meanwhile, police issued a cut off timing for the pilgrims moving to Kashmir along Jammu-Srinagar national highway and said no RFID tagged yatra or tourist vehicles would be allowed to proceed after the cut off timing.
The cut off timings for the yatra vehicles in TCP Nagrota is 7 am, 9 am for Udhampur, 11.30 am for Ramban and 2 pm for Jawahar Tunnel.
First Published: Jun 30, 2019 09:27 IST