24,000 pay obeisance at holy cave, over 5000 leave from Jammu

Amarnath Ji pilgrims entering Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas for their onwards journey to holy cave on Tuesday. -Excelsior/Rakesh
Amarnath Ji pilgrims entering Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas for their onwards journey to holy cave on Tuesday. -Excelsior/Rakesh

2 US nationals on Yatra, say ‘dream come true’

Avtar Bhat

JAMMU, July 9: Total 24000 pilgrims paid obeisance at the holy cave of Shri Amarnath Ji today on the 11th day of 52- day long pilgrimage which started on June 29, while a fresh batch of over 5433 pilgrims left Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas here, early this morning under tight security arrangements for twin base camps of Baltal -Sonamarg in Central Kashmir district of Ganderbal and Nunwan-Pahalgam in South Kashmir district of Anantnag in a cavalcade of 213 light and heavy motor vehicles.

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Officials said 24,000 pilgrims drawn from different parts of country performed darshan at holy cave situated at a height of 3888 metres in deep Himalayas in South Kashmir from twin tracks of Baltal and Chandanwari as well as through choppers by this evening. All these pilgrims after performing darshan of naturally formed Ice Shivlingam in Himalayan cave started their return journey towards Panchtarni, the last camp on Chandanwari track to holy cave and Baltal base camp.
Officials said with today’s batch of 24000 pilgrims including jawans of security forces and service providers paying obeisance at cave shrine, the total number of 2,31,016 pilgrims visited Shri Amarnath Ji in last 11 days of pilgrimage.
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Officials said there is a heavy rush in the yatra area from both sides of Pahalgam and Baltal as thousands of pilgrims are camping at twin base camps and other halting stations. The yatris are in high spirits and they enjoy the pilgrimage. Besides, they are highly appreciative of the facilities provided by the Langar organisations and service providers, as well as police, jawans of security forces and officials of UT Government.
Among the thousands of pilgrims heading to Kashmir for the Amarnath Yatra, two United States nationals were also spotted on Tuesday undertaking the holy pilgrimage.
Speaking with media persons, Heather Hathway and her son, Hudson Hathway said that visiting the Amarnath cave had been a “dream come true” for them. They said they have waited for this opportunity for many years.
“We are so grateful to be here. I have dreamed of coming to Amarnath for many years. This has only been possible with the Government of India’s amazing organisation and the Shrine Board. We are overwhelmed with joy. Everyone has been so amazing, sweet, and kind,” Heather said.
The Amarnath Yatra attracts thousands of Hindu devotees annually. The 52-day long pilgrimage, which began on June 29, will conclude on August 19, 2024. Devotees in lakhs visit the Amarnath Ji cave , located in Kashmir’s Lidder Valley every year for pilgrimage.
Officials said among the 5433 pilgrims who left Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas early this morning for twin base camps of Nunwan and Baltal included 4203 male, 1117 females, 18 children, 83 Sadhus and 12 Sadhvis. They said 1971 pilgrims among them preferred the shortest Baltal track while 3462 opted for the longest and traditional Nunwan-Pahalgam track. These pilgrims have reached their respective base camps by this evening wherefrom they will leave for holy cave early tomorrow morning.
Officials said the pilgrims who had reached the Nunwan and Baltal base camps yesterday started their sojourn early this morning towards holy cave.