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Day 2: Amarnath yatra remains suspended

Amarnath pilgrimage continued to remain suspended for the second day on Monday due to bad weather.

india Updated: Jun 12, 2006 13:13 IST

The Amarnath pilgrimage continued to remain suspended from both Baltal and Pahalgam routes for the second day on Monday due to heavy snowfall and incessant rains at several places along the track to the holy cave shrine, leaving thousands of devotees stranded enroute, officials said.

They said while 18 inches of snow was recorded at Mahagunas, six inches of snowfall was received at the holy cave shrine, making it extremely difficult for pilgrims to undertake the holy journey from the traditional Pahalgam route.

Similarly, the track to the holy cave shrine from the shorter Baltal route was inaccessible due to heavy snowfall and incessant rains at the Sangam Top.

Thousands of devotees were stranded at both the Baltal and Pahalgam base camps and awaiting clearance from authorities to proceed to the holy Amarnath cave.

Meanwhile, no pilgrim was allowed to move from Jammu to the base camps at Baltal and Pahalgam in view of the bad weather conditions prevailing in the entire valley.

Well-placed sources told UNI that Inspector General of Police (IGP), Kashmir, SM Sahai, had sent a message to the Police Control Room (PCR), Jammu, saying no pilgrim should be allowed to move from the winter capital for the holy cave shrine of Amarnath on Monday in view of bad weather in the valley.

Several upper reaches in Kashmir, particularly areas leading to the holy cave shrine, have recorded heavy snowfall and rains since Saturday night.

The officials said the two-month-long Amarnath pilgrimage started as per schedule from the Baltal route on Sunday morning amid extraordinary security arrangements as devotees in a large number proceeded on the holy journey.

The authorities had earlier announced that the pilgrimage has been suspended from the traditional Pahalgam route after heavy snowfall was recorded at Panchtarni and Sheshnag, the two halting points, since Saturday night.

Hours later, the pilgrimage was suspended from Baltal route as well following heavy snowfall and incessant rains at Sangam Top.

The official said all devotees were safe and asserted that they were regularly monitoring the weather situation along both routes and would accordingly take a decision on resuming the yatra, which comes to an end on Raksha Bandhan Day on August 9.

A large number of devotees have already started arriving in Srinagar for their onward journey to the holy cave shrine of Amarnath situated on the narrow openings between the mountains of Lidder valley at a height of 3,888 mt in south Kashmir.

The Amarnath cave is one of the twelve holiest shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva, collectively known as Jyotirlingas.

More than 5,00,000 pilgrims are expected to visit the holy cave shrine this year. Last year, the pilgrimage remained incident-free and more than four lakh devotees had a glimpse of the 'ice Shivalingam' (phallic symbol of Lord Shiva).

The lingam is formed naturally with an ice stalagmite, which waxes and wanes with the moon.

The first batch of 606 pilgrims—328 men, 127 women, 24 children and 127 'sants'—arrived at Baltal and Pahalgam base camps from Jammu on Saturday.

The second batch of 1347 devotees—906 men, 233 women, 70 children and 138 'sants'—reached the two base camps from Jammu last evening.

Security forces have been put on high alert along the 300-km Jammu-Srinagar National Highway and on routes to the holy cave shrine from Baltal and Pahalgam areas.