7483 pilgrims perform darshan, 2nd batch of 5700 leaves for yatra

Lt Governor Manoj Sinha performing puja through virtual mode (left) and the view of fully illuminated holy cave with naturally formed Ice Lingam of Lord Shiva (right).
Lt Governor Manoj Sinha performing puja through virtual mode (left) and the view of fully illuminated holy cave with naturally formed Ice Lingam of Lord Shiva (right).

LG participates in puja through virtual mode, prays for peace

Excelsior Correspondent

JAMMU, June 30: The 43-day long Shri Amarnath yatra started today with first batch of 7483 pilgrims performing darshan of naturally formed Ice lingam in holy cave of Baba Barfani situated in deep Himalayas in South Kashmir district of Anantnag at an altitude of 3880 meters while second batch of 5700 pilgrims left the Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas here under tight security arrangements for twin base camps of Nunwan , Pahalgam in South Kashmir and Baltal Ganderbal in Central Kashmir.
To mark the auspicious beginning of holy yatra Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha performed the pooja of Barfani Baba through virtual mode and prayed for peace , happiness and property of nation and countrymen. Click here to watch video
Speaking on the occasion, Lt Governor said “I have full faith that the devotees travelling from all over the country to seek the divine blessings of Shri Amarnathji will have a safe and memorable pilgrimage”.
Earlier thousands of yatris left for holy cave from twin base camps of Nunwan, Pahalgam in Anantnag district of South Kashmir and Baltal in Ganderbal district of Central Kashmir. As per reports, 2750 pilgrims left for holy cave from Nunwan base camp early this morning chanting Bum Bum Bhole and Jai Baba Barfani.
The yatris early in the morning after spending a night at picturesque Nunwan base camp, assembled near exit gates to leave for their onwards sojourn under tight security arrangements.
The yatris were in a jubilant mood and in high spirits as some of them who had planned yatra during 2020 and 2021 could not make it due to spread of COVID pandemic. They said they are excited after reaching Pahalgam and their joy knows no bounds as they left for darshan of Bhole Baba from Nunwan camp.
The yatris leaving via traditional 48 km long Nunwan track will have night stays at Chandanwari, Sheshnag and Panchtarni before performing darshan at holy cave while the pilgrims taking the shortest 14 km Baltal track will reach holy cave in one day and can return to Baltal base camp on the same day.
Reports reaching here said 6823 pilgrims left Baltal base camp via foot towards the holy cave while 601 pilgrims went via choppers. Some of them had performed darshan at the cave shrine while others were on way.
Expecting a heavy footfall of yatris, the UT Government and SASB have made extensive arrangements for yatris this year.
The first batch of 2750 pilgrims left the Nunwan base camp here – on the Pahalgam-Chandanwari route – after being flagged off by Deputy Commissioner Anantnag, Piyush Singla, and secretary Tribal Affairs, Shahid Choudhary early in the morning.
The pilgrims expressed happiness over the resumption of the annual pilgrimage this year after a gap of almost three years. In 2019, the yatra was curtailed days ahead of the abrogation of Article 370. The pilgrimage did not take place in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are so excited, it is a matter of immense happiness that the yatra is taking place this year and we will be able to have darshan,” Ravina Chowdhary, a pilgrim from Rajasthan, said.
She said it was her first time in Kashmir and their family feels the atmosphere in the Valley is very good.
“We came here for the first time. We never expected such a good atmosphere. We feel so happy. We pray that everything remains well, that people do not face any problems and there is no untoward incident,” she said.
The joy of Avantika, a young, first-time, pilgrim from Delhi, knew no bounds as she set on the journey she had been longing to go on having heard about it from her family members.
“It is like a dream come true for me. I had heard about the yatra from my relatives but being on it myself gives me so much of joy,” she said.
“I have come here many times. Though the journey is arduous, we are hopeful that Bhole Baba will be with us. I want the Lord to keep everyone safe and the situation to remain peaceful here,” another pilgrim said.
Most of the pilgrims expressed happiness over the arrangements made by the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) and the J-K administration.
“This is a moment of happiness. The arrangements are very good. We are satisfied and have no complaints,” Kavita, a pilgrim from Delhi, said.
However, some like Vijay Kumar from Gujarat, said the arrangements, including registration-related, at the base camp were not up to the mark.
The vehicle-bound pilgrims then proceeded towards Chandanwari, from where the journey on foot or ponies or ‘Palkis’ begins.
At Chandanwari, the pilgrims were let through the access control gates after verifying their credentials.
Locals of the area also made it to Chandanwari early in the morning to provide gear like trekking poles made of wood, caps, gloves, raincoats etc.
Many locals have also set up stalls inside the Nunwan base camp, selling a wide variety of merchandise for the pilgrims.
The langars have been installed by philanthropist organisations and they are busy in providing free service to pilgrims round the clock.
Elaborate security arrangements were put in place for the smooth conduct of the Yatra. Security forces conducted another round of sanitisation along the route in the wee hours of the day shortly before the commencement of the pilgrimage.
New bunkers, within short distances, have come up along the route, while as security personnel have been deployed in strength to avoid any untoward incident.
Security agencies have apprehended a higher threat perception to the Yatra this year, even as security personnel have been deployed three to four times more in strength for the pilgrimage this year.
To ensure only bonafide pilgrims are present at the pilgrimage, the SASB has asked all intending pilgrims to carry Aadhaar cards or any other biometric verified document with them.
Apart from the deployment, drone surveillance and RFID chips are also a part of the three-tier security arrangements for pilgrims.
The peaks leading to the holy cave have been covered by the security forces and a round-the-clock vigil is being maintained.
The pilgrimage is being monitored with the help of CCTV cameras and drones on both routes.
Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) today said the devotees can have ‘Darshan’ of the Holy Ice Lingam at the Holy Cave Shrine through live telecast of Morning and Evening Arti through Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board’s website link: http://www.shriamarnathjishrine.com/AartiLive.html or through Shrine Board’s Android based Application which may be downloaded through the link: http://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.ncog.shriamarnath
Besides, the Board members of Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board, Dr. Arun Kumar Mehta, Chief Secretary; Nitishwar Kumar, CEO Amarnathji Shrine Board, and Lt General Amardeep Singh Aujla, GOC 15 Corps also participated in the Puja.
Meanwhile second batch of 5,700 pilgrims left from here in a secured convoy to perform pilgrimage to the cave shrine of Amarnath amid tight security arrangements.
Chanting ‘Bum Bum Bhole’, the pilgrims left the Bhagwati Nagar base camp in a cavalcade of 230 vehicles early this morning.
The 43-day pilgrimage to the cave shrine will conclude on August 11 on the occasion of Shravan Purnima coinciding with Raksha Bandhan.
With the 2nd batch, the total number of pilgrims, who have left for the Amarnath cave shrine from Jammu went up to 10,700, officials said.
Over 5,000 to 6,000 fresh pilgrims have arrived in Jammu from various places across the country for their onward journey to Amarnath shrine, they said.
After on-the spot registration at three counters and supply of tokens at two counters, they have been lodged in 32 lodging centres and base camps here, they said.
There is a heavy rush of yatris at registration centers who are standing in long queues for hours together from early in the morning.
Heavy rush of Sadhus including male and female was also seen in Ram Mandir, Purani Mandi and Geeta Bhawan where all arrangements of their registration, medical check up and free langer have been made by the Management Committees of the respective organisations. Elaborate security arrangements have also been made for the Sadus at both these places and authorities have allotted special buses to ferry them to base camp of Nunwan -Pahalgam as Sadhus prefer to perform yatra through traditional track.
As per reports, 1667 pilgrims crossed Lakhanpur in Kathua district today for their onwards pilgrimage to holy cave of Shri Amanrnathji through surface transport while thousands of more pilgrims reached here via railway and by air today.