Jammu, July 8 (IANS) Another batch of 1,726 pilgrims left Jammu on Friday for the Amarnath Cave Shrine where 75,000 devotees have had ‘Darshan’ so far, officials said.
The pilgrims left in a convoy of 12 buses and 28 light motor vehicles escorted by the security forces.
“Since the Yatra started on July 2, over 75,000 Yatris have had ‘Darshan’ at the Cave Shrine,” an official of the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) that manages the affairs of the annual pilgrimage said in Jammu.
A three-tier security cover manned by the army, ITBP, CRPF and the state police has been put in place to secure the yatra.
Extra ordinary security arrangements have been made for this year’s yatra because of the spurt in militant activities in the Kashmir Valley this year.
Situated at 3,888 metres above the sea level, the Cave Shrine houses an ice stalagmite structure that wanes and waxes with the phases of the moon.
Devotees believe the ice stalagmite structure called the ‘Lingam’ symbolises mythical powers of Lord Shiva.
Pilgrims use the north Kashmir Baltal and the south Kashmir Pahalgam routes to reach the Cave Shrine from the two base camps of Baltal and Nunwan (Pahalgam).
The uphill trek from Baltal base camp is 14 km long while that from Nunwan (Pahalgam) is 46 kms long.
Those using the Baltal route return to the base camp the same day after having the ‘Darshan’ while those using the south Kashmir Pahalgam route take three days to reach the Cave Shrine.
Helicopter services are also available for the yatris from Baltal and Pahalgam to and from the Cave Shrine.
The local MeT department issues a daily weather bulletin for the yatris.
In its weather bulletin on Friday, the MeT department has forecast dry weather on Baltal-Cave Shrine and Pahalgam-Cave Shrine routes.
So far, two pilgrims have died due to natural causes during this year’s yatra.
The 48-day Yatra will conclude on August 17 coinciding with Shravan Purnima a nd Raksha Bandhan festivals.