Over 11,000 perform darshan at holy cave, 6400 leave Jammu

Amarnath pilgrims on way to holy cave via Chandanwari track on Friday. — Excelsior/Sajad Dar
Amarnath pilgrims on way to holy cave via Chandanwari track on Friday. — Excelsior/Sajad Dar

3 pilgrims injured in Banihal
Excelsior Correspondent
JAMMU, July 1: Over 11,000 pilgrims performed darshan at holy cave of Shri Amarnathji on the second day of yatra while a fresh batch of 6400 pilgrims left from Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas here for the twin base camps of Nunwan, Pahalgam in South Kashmir district of Anantnag and Baltal in Ganderbal district of Central Kashmir this morning.
As per reports, 11052 pilgrims performed darshan of Ice Lingam in holy cave of Baba Barfani in deep Himalayas of South Kashmir today after trekking the treacherous and arduous tracks via Baltal and Chandanwari to cave shrine.
Reports said early in the morning hundreds of pilgrims started moving towards holy cave from twin base camps of Nunwan and Baltal under tight security measures chanting “Bum Bum Bhole and Barfani Baba Ki Jai”. The pilgrims stationed at the Chandanwari, Sheshnag and Panchtarni camps also started their onwards sojourn to holy cave in the morning.
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The weather in the entire cave shrine area remained pleasant today and yatris who had darshan in the cave shrine by this evening also started their return journey towards the base camps.
Meanwhile, amid tight security, fresh batch of 6,400 pilgrims left from the base camp here today in a secured convoy to perform pilgrimage to the cave shrine of Amarnathji.
Chanting ‘Bum Bum Bhole’, the pilgrims left the Bhagwati Nagar base camp in a cavalcade of 265 vehicles early morning.
The 43-day long pilgrimage to the cave shrine will conclude on August 11 on the occasion of Sharvan Purnima coinciding with Raksha Bandhan.
With today’s batch, the number of the total pilgrims, who have left for Amarnath cave shrine from Jammu, goes up to 17,100, officials said.
Over 7,000 fresh pilgrims have arrived in Jammu from various places across the country for their onward journey to the shrine, they said. Officials said 2560 pilgrims crossed Lakhanpur by this evening via surface transport while hundreds have reached via rail and air to the summer capital.
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.
The yatra commenced on Thursday from the traditional 48-km Nunwan route in South Kashmir’s Pahalgam and the 14-km Baltal route in Central Kashmir’s Ganderbal.
The pilgrimage is expected to see higher-than-usual attendance as it is being held after a gap of three years.
However, three pilgrims to the Amarnath cave shrine were injured when their vehicle skidded off the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway and turned turtle in Ramban district this morning, officials said.
The tempo-traveller, which was carrying pilgrims to Kashmir from Jammu, met with an accident near the Sherbibi area in Banihal, they said.
Kundan Kumar (59) from Uttar Pradesh, Vivek (10) and Anita Gupta (49) from Chhattisgarh were undergoing treatment in Banihal hospital, the officials said.
They were to visit the cave shrine in the South Kashmir Himalayas on July 3.
Meanwhile, pilgrims and tourists have been barred from crossing over to Kashmir from Banihal area of Ramban district after 3.30 pm, the cut-off time, due to security concerns, an officer said.
The measure has been taken by the police in view of unregistered Amarnath pilgrims travelling in the guise of tourists to the Valley, thereby causing security problems in view of heightened security threats, the officer said.
“Unregistered pilgrims, travelling without RIFD (Radio-Frequency Identification) and devotees travelling in the guise of tourists will not be allowed to move to Kashmir from Navyug tunnel in (Banihal area) after cut-off time of 3.30 pm,” Ramban Superintendent of Police, Mohita Sharma told reporters.
For security reasons, vehicles of Amarnath pilgrims and tourists will not be allowed towards Kashmir after 1.30 pm at Chandrakot and after 3.30 pm from Banihal tunnel. However, trucks and other local traffic will ply as usual, she said.
The SP further said the pilgrims, who were stopped at Chanderkote after 1.30 pm, have been accommodated at Yatri Niwas in Chanderkote.
Replying to a question on restrictions for local traffic on the highway during the yatra, Sharma said the local vehicles, including those ferrying school students, employees and patients, are being allowed one by one.