|Early Times Report|
Jammu, July 20: A fresh batch of 4,094 pilgrims including 955 women and 144 sadhus left the Bhagwati Nagar base camp here on Saturday to pay obeisance at the 3,880-metre-high cave shrine of Amarnath in South Kashmir Himalayas, officials said.
So far, over 2.43 lakh pilgrims have visited the shrine since the commencement of the annual 46-day yatra on July 1, they said.
The latest batch, which also included 20 children, left in a fleet of 175 vehicles under tight security arrangements from the Bhagwati Nagar base camp in the early hours of Saturday. The pilgrims will be reaching the twin base camps of Pahalgam in Anantnag district and Baltal in Ganderbal district later in the day.
The yatra is going on smoothly from both the tracks - traditional 36-km Pahalgam and shorter 14-km Baltal route, the officials said, adding the yatra resumed from Baltal route on Saturday morning after the upward movement was suspended Friday due to rain and slippery track conditions.
As many as 4,086 pilgrims offered their prayers at the shrine, housing the naturally formed ice-lingam, till 10 am Saturday, taking the total number of yatris who visited the shrine since the commencement of the pilgrimage to 2,43,060, the officials said. The number of Amarnath pilgrims is expected to cross the 2.50 lakh mark by Saturday evening, they said.
Among the pilgrims who left for the valley from the Bhawati Nagar base camp, 2,408 yatris including 389 women, nine children and 144 sadhus are performing the yatra from Pahalgam side, while 1,686 devotees including 566 women and 11 children are heading for Baltal to undertake the yatra from there, the officials said.
They said with this batch, a total of 92,069 pilgrims have left the Bhagwati Nagar base camp to undertake the yatra since June 30, a day ahead of the official commencement of the pilgrimage.
The pilgrimage is scheduled to end on August 15 coinciding the Raksha Bandhan festival.
As many as 2,85,006 pilgrims had paid obeisance at the shrine last year, while the number of pilgrims was 3,52,771 in 2015, 3,20,490 in 2016 and 2,60,003 in 2017.