Jammu, July 5 (IANS) Another batch of over 2,200 Amarnath pilgrims left from here on Sunday for the Himalayan cave shrine in the Kashmir Valley.
“The fourth batch of 2,219 yatris left Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas in Jammu at 4.50 a.m. today (Sunday) in an escorted convoy,” a senior police officer told IANS here.
Over 480 women and 27 children are part of the convoy.
The annual Hindu pilgrimage to the Himalayan cave shrine of Amarnath started on July 2 and will end on August 29 coinciding with Shravan Purnima and Raksha Bandhan festivals.
“The yatra has been going on smoothly and the issues of security and logistics are being efficiently addressed,” said another senior officer in south Kashmir Anantnag district where the shrine is located.
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 symbolizes mystical powers of Lord Shiva.
The pilgrims reach the cave shrine situated 14,500 feet above the sea level through the traditional south Kashmir Pahalgam and the relatively modern north Kashmir Baltal base camp routes.
Helicopter services are available at Baltal and at Chandanwari (Pahalgam).
Besides, local Muslim potters and ponywallahs help by carrying the weak and infirm pilgrims on horseback or even on their shoulders all along the treacherous mountain trek that is 14-km long via Baltal and 46-km long via Pahalgam route.