Friday, July 19, 2024

Over 2 lakh pilgrims perform Amaranth Yatra in first fortnight

Over two lakh pilgrims performed the ongoing Amarnath Yatra during the first fortnight since its beginning on July 1 as another batch of 6,684 Yatris left Jammu for the Valley on Sunday, officials said.

“Yesterday, 21,400 Yatris had ‘darshan’ inside the holy cave as another batch of 6,684 pilgrims left Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas in Jammu for the Valley in an escorted convoy today morning. Of these, 4498 are males, 1991 female, 34 children, 140 Sadhus and 21 Sadhvis,” officials said on Sunday.

So far, 24 pilgrims have died of natural causes during this year’s Amarnath Yatra.

Yatris approach the Himalayan cave shrine either from the traditional south Kashmir Pahalgam route which involves an uphill trek of 43 km from the Pahalgam base camp or from the north Kashmir Baltal base camp which involves 13 km uphill trek.

Those using the traditional Pahalgam route take 3-4 days to reach the cave shrine while those using the Baltal route return to the base camp the same day after having ‘darshan’ inside the cave shrine situated 3,888 metres above the sea level.

Helicopter services are also available for Yatris on both routes.

The cave shrine houses an ice stalagmite structure that devotees believe symbolises the mythical powers of Lord Shiva.

The ice stalagmite structure wanes and waxes with the phases of the moon.

This year’s 62-day-long Amarnath Yatra started on July 1 and will end on August 31 coinciding with the Shravan Purnima festival.

To protect the pilgrims from high altitude sickness, authorities have banned all junk food at the free community kitchens called the ‘Langars’ which have been set up along both the routes of the Yatra. The banned items include all bottled drinks, Halwai items, fried foods and tobacco-based products.

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