Over 20,000 pray at Amarnath

Jammu, July 7 (IANS) More than 20,000 people have prayed so far this year at the Amarnath shrine in Jammu and Kashmir while another batch of some 2,600 left for the holy cave on Tuesday, authorities said.

A total of 2,614 pilgrims, including over 600 women and children, began their pilgrimage from here for Anantnag district in south Kashmir, a police officer told IANS.

The pilgrims left in a convoy of 77 vehicles escorted by security forces.

Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) officials said more than 20,000 pilgrims have prayed at the shrine since the annual pilgrimage started on July 2.

The shrine, situated 14,500 feet above sea level, houses an ice stalagmite structure that waxes and wanes with the phases of the moon. The two-month pilgrimage will conclude on August 29.

The pilgrims use both the traditional 46-km Pahalgam route and the relatively modern 14-km Baltal route to reach the shrine.

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