A fresh batch of 3,500 pilgrims left Jammu for the Kashmir Valley on Thursday to perform the annual Amarnath Yatra. “A fresh batch of 3,500 pilgrims left the Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas in an escorted convoy of 153 vehicles at 3.25 a.m.,” officials said here.
The rush of devotees has continued unabated despite the terror attack on Monday in which seven pilgrims were killed and 19 others injured. The Jammu-Srinagar highway, which the pilgrims use to reach the valley, was closed on Wednesday due to landslides triggered by heavy rains in the Panthal sector of Ramban district. However, it was restored for traffic later in the evening. All vehicles carrying pilgrims have to cross the Jawahar Tunnel, the entry point into the valley, before 3.30 p.m. This precaution has been taken by the authorities to ensure that the pilgrims reach the base camps of Pahalgam and Baltal well before sunset.
Wednesday marked the 14th day of the yatra. So far this year, 1.68 lakh pilgrims pilgrims have reached the shrine located at 3,888 metres above sea-level. The cave houses an ice stalagmite structure that waxes and wanes with the size of the moon. Devotees believe the ice stalagmite structure symbolises mythical powers of Lord Shiva. The 40-day long Yatra to the Himalayan cave shrine started on June 29 and will end on August 7 on Shravan Purnima coinciding with the Raksha Bandhan festival.