AMIDT Tightest Ever Security, Pilgrims Commence Amarnath Yatra

THE first batch of pilgrims on Sunday, June 30, departed from the base camp at Jammu for  the annual Amarnath pilgrimage commencing  from Chandanwari and Baltal on Thursday as per the Hindu calendar. It will conclude on August 15 coinciding with Sharavana Purnima. Amarnath cave is  located at an altitude of 3,888 metre above sea level .It is 141 km from Srinagar, the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir and  can be reached through Pahalgam town. The shrine is considered one of the holiest by the Hindu community for ages as one of the 18 Grand Shakti Peethas.  The Himalayan cave remains covered with snow most of the year except for a brief period during summer when it is open for pilgrims. Inside the snowy cave, pilgrims can view a Shiva Lingam. It is mentioned in the Mahabharata and Puranas that Lingam represents Lord Shiva. The Lingam waxes during May and August. It is also claimed   that the lingam grows and shrinks with the phases of the moon reaching its height during the summer festival. Hindu faithfuls also believe Shiva explained the secret of life and eternity to Parvati, his consort, in the holy cave. Devotees travel on foot, from Srinagar or from Pahalgam. “The latter journey takes approximately 5 days”, says BBC. The State Road Transport Corporation and Private Transport Operators provide the regular services from Jammu to Pahalgam and Baltal. Privately hired taxis are available from Jammu & Kashmir. Various non-profit organizations have set up food supply and pandals. Near the shrine, hundreds of tents are put up by locals for a night’s stay for rental.. Helicopter services from base camp to Panjtarni, 6 km from the cave, are also available. As in the previous years, thousands of central armed forces and state police personnel are deployed to ensure security to pilgrims from potential terror threats. The first batch of 2,234 pilgrims left the Bhagwat  Nagar base camp in Jammu for the Amarnath shrine as scheduled on Sunday morning amidst  tightest ever security cover. The pilgrims are travelling in 93 vehicles which are escorted by security forces. KK Sharma, advisor to Governor and the Divisional Commissioner, Jammu, and other senior officials flagged of the yatra. They performed ‘pooja’ at the base camp before the commencement of the journey. Two separate batches departed from the base camp, one for Chandanwari in Pahalgam and another for Baltal in South Kashmir.The Baltal batch of 1,006 pilgrims comprised of 793 men, 203 women and 10 children. They left the base camp at 4:40 am in 45 vehicles including 9 buses, 33 light motor vehicles (LMV) and three motorcycles (edited by Pranab Kumar Chakravarty).

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