Srinagar, July 12 (IANS) Since it started on July 1, so far 1.37 lakh pilgrims have performed the ongoing AmarnathYatra during the last 11 days.
“Over 18,000 Yatris had ‘darshan’ inside the holy cave on Tuesday while another batch of 6,554 pilgrims left Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas in Jammu in the morning for the Valley today,” officials said.
The passage of pilgrims from Jammu to the Valley remained halted for four days due to the blockade of Jammu-Srinagar highway which was re-opened for traffic this day to clear stranded vehicles and AmarnathYatris.
Yatris approach the Himalayan cave shrine either from the traditional south Kashmir Pahalgam route which involves an uphill trek of 43 Kms from Pahalgam base camp or from the north Kashmir Baltal base camp which involves 13 Kms uphill trek.
Those using the traditional Pahalgam route take 3-4 days to reach the cave shrine while those using the Baltal route return to the base camp the same day after having darshan inside the cave shrine situated 3888 metres above the sea-level.
Helicopter services are also available for Yatris on both routes.
The cave shrine houses an ice stalagmite structure that devotees believe symbolises mythical powers of Lord Shiva. The ice stalagmite structure wanes and waxes with the phases of the moon.
This year’s 62-day long AmarnathYatra started on July 1 and will end on August 31 coinciding with the Shravan Purnima festival.
To protect the pilgrims from high altitude sickness, authorities have banned all junk food at the free community kitchens called the ‘Langars’ that have been set up along both the routes of the Yatra. The banned items include all bottled drinks, halwai items, fried foods and tobacco based products.