Jammu, July 16 (IANS) A fresh batch of 3,603 pilgrims left Jammu for the Kashmir Valley on Sunday to perform the annual Amarnath Yatra.
“A fresh batch of 3,603 pilgrims left the Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas in an escorted convoy of 153 vehicles at 3.25 a.m.,” officials said here.
Nearly 9,000 pilgrims reached the shrine located at 3,888 metres above sea-level on Saturday which marked the 17th day of the ongoing 40-day yatra.
So far this year, over 2 lakh pilgrims have performed the yatra which is slated to end on August 7 on Shravan Purnima coinciding with Raksha Bandhan festival.
The cave houses an ice stalagmite structure that waxes and wanes with the size of the moon.
Devotees believe the ice stalagmite structure symbolises mythical powers of Lord Shiva.
The pilgrims reach the shrine either from the traditional 46 km long mountain track from the Pahalgam base camp or through the 14 km track from the Baltal base camp.
Over 35,000 security personnel drawn from the Army, Central Reserve Police Force, Sashastra Seema Bal, Indo Tibetan Border Police and the state police have been deployed to provide security to the pilgrims.
The security heightened after terrorists attacked a yatra bus on the Srinagar-Jammu national highway in Anantnag district on July 10 resulting in the deaths of seven pilgims.