Jammu, Aug 5 (IANS) The last batch of 52 pilgrims left Jammu on Saturday for the Kashmir Valley to perform this year’s Amarnath Yatra which ends on August 7, officials said.
“The Yatris left Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas at 2.55 a.m. in an escorted convoy of three vehicles,” officials said.
S.D. Singh Jamwal, Inspector General of Police (IGP) Jammu zone said no pilgrim will be allowed to proceed for the Yatra after Saturay since the Yatra concludes on August 7.
“This is the last batch of Yatris to leave Jammu for this year’s Amarnath Yatra,” officials said here.
The 40-day long Yatra started on June 29 and will conclude on August 7 on Shravan Purnima coinciding with Raksha Bandhan festival.
The conclusion of the Yatra will be marked by the arrival of the ‘Chhari Mubarak’ (Holy Mace) at the cave shrine in the morning of August 7 after which the final ‘Puja’ will be offered inside the shrine.
Situated at 3,888 metres above the sea level in Himalayas, the cave shrine houses an ice stalagmite structure that waxes and wanes with the size of the visible moon.
Devotees believe the ice stalagmite structure symbolizes mythical powers of Lord Shiva.
The cave is approached by pilgrims either through the 46-km long traditional Pahalagam-Chandanwari-Sheshnag-Panchtarni trek or through the 14-km long Baltal-Dumail trek.Helicopter services are also available for the pilgrims both at Baltal and Pahalgam.
Till Friday evening, 2,58,414 pilgrims had ‘darshan’ inside the cave shrine.
Last year, only 2.30 lakh pilgrims performed the Yatra.
This year, 48 pilgrims have lost their lives during the Yatra. Of these, 17 died in a road accident, eight were killed in a terror attacked while 23 died of natural causes.
Over 35,000 security personnel drawn from the army, CRPF, ITBP, SSB and state police have been deployed for this year’s Yatra.