Over 2,100 pilgrims leave for Amarnath Yatra

Jammu, July 6 (IANS) Another batch of over 2,100 Amarnath pilgrims left here on Monday for the Himalayan cave shrine in the Kashmir Valley as heavy rain lashed the over-300 km long Jammu-Srinagar national highway.

“Another batch of 2,128 yatris left the Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas here today (Monday) morning for the Valley. It includes 399 females, 20 children and 135 sadhus,” a senior police officer told IANS.

“The yatris left in 12 vehicles in an escorted convoy,” the officer said.

The cave shrine houses an ice stalagmite structure that waxes and wanes with the phases of the moon. Devotees call the stalagmite structure the ‘Holy Lingam’ and believe it symbolises mystical powers of Lord Shiva.

The over 300-km long Jammu-Srinagar national highway is the only surface route for the annual Hindu pilgrimage to the Himalayan cave shrine situated 14,500 feet above the sea level in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district.

Heavy rain has been lashing the highway throughout the Sunday night, triggering landslides at some places.

An official of the traffic department told IANS there has been landslide in the Bannihal sector of the highway because of heavy rainfall, but the highway has been restored for one-way traffic to facilitate the passage of the yatris.

The two-month long Amarnath Yatra started this year on July 2 and will end on August 29, coinciding with Shravan Purnima and Raksha Bandhan festivals.

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