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Srinagar, July 20 Over 17,000 pilgrims had ‘darshan’ inside the holy cave on the 19th day despite bad weather while another batch of 6,523 Yatris left Jammu for the Valley on Thursday, said officials.
“So far, over 1.84 lakh Yatris have performed this year’s Amarnath Yatra while another batch of 6,523 pilgrims left the Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas in Jammu in an escorted convoy for the Valley today.
“Of these 6,523 Yatris, 2777 are going to Baltal base camp while 3,746 are going to Pahalgam base camp,” officials said.
Thirty pilgrims have died during the yatra this year. Of these 29 died of natural causes while one was killed by a shooting stone along the Pahalgam-cave shrine axis.
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 Kilometres 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 3,888 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 Amarnath Yatra 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.