Amarnath batch strength heading for Kashmir dropped below 2000
Jammu: A fresh batch of 1,974 pilgrims, including 363 women, left Jammu city in a convoy of 85 vehicles early Sunday for the twin base camps in Kashmir to perform the annual Amarnath pilgrimage, officials said.
The drop in the pilgrim footfall was attributed to the complete melting of the naturally formed ice-shivlingam at the 3,880-metre-high holy cave shrine in the south Kashmir Himalayas.
Over 3.85 lakh pilgrims have so far paid their obeisance at the shrine since the beginning of the 62-day-long yatra on July 1.
The yatra is scheduled to end on Shravan Purnima’ coinciding with Raksha Bandhan festival on August 31 with the holy mace of lord Shiva reaching the shrine.
The 28th batch of pilgrims comprising 1,974 pilgrims, who also included 45 Sadhus and 16 Sadhvis, left Bhagwati Nagar base camp in Jammu for Kashmir in a convoy of 85 vehicles escorted by security personnel between 3.30 am and 3.45 am, an official said.
While 1,410 pilgrims are performing the yatra through the traditional 48-km Pahalgam track in Anantnag district, 564 others are heading for the 14-km Baltal route in Ganderbal district, they said.
This was the lowest-strength batch of Lord Shiva devotees leaving the Bhagwati Nagar base camp in Jammu since the first batch was flagged off by Lt Governor Manoj Sinha on June 30.
A total of 42 persons, mostly pilgrims, had died during this year’s yatra till date. Among the victims are an Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) officer posted on yatra duty.
Cardiac arrest triggered by low oxygen concentration at high altitudes is one of the most common causes of fatalities among the pilgrims and security forces posted there. (PTI)