Over 13,000 perform darshan, yatra crosses 2 lakh

Pilgrims on way to holy cave via Chandanwari track on Tuesday. -Excelsior/ Sajad Dar
Pilgrims on way to holy cave via Chandanwari track on Tuesday. -Excelsior/ Sajad Dar

Pilgrims allege lack of facilities at Panchayat Ghar
Avtar Bhat

JAMMU, July 19: With over 13,000 pilgrims performing darshan of naturally formed Ice Lingam in the holy cave of Shri Amarnath Ji situated at an altitude of 3880 meters above sea level in snow bound Himalayas of South Kashmir by this evening, the total number of yatris paying obeisance in last 20 days since the annual pilgrimage started on June 30 this year has crossed two lakh.
According to officials, 13,226 pilgrims drawn from different parts of the country performed darshan at holy cave of Lord Shiva by this evening taking the total number of pilgrims visiting cave shrine during last 20 days to 2,07,679.
Officials said there is no decline in rush of pilgrims at holy cave as thousands of yatris from both shortest Baltal track as well as the traditional and longest Chandanwari route reach for darshan daily from early in the morning. Thousands of yatris are seen waiting in beelines for their turn of darshan at cave shrine daily.
Officials said that 13,585 pilgrims were staying at Baltal base camp for last night while 6024 pilgrims left for darshan from there early this morning. Out of them, 5715 left via foot while 309 left by chopper. Officials said 5711 yatris were staying at Sheshnag during last night while 5576 left for holy cave via Sheshnag today.
They said 5228 pilgrims were staying at Chandanwari camp during the night while 5246 left for holy cave from there in the morning. At Panchtarni, 11007 pilgrims were staying overnight while 7873 pilgrims left from there to holy cave today.
Officials said 2694 pilgrims were staying at Nunwan base camp overnight while 2326 pilgrims left from there for darshan this morning.
Officials said one more pilgrim died at Kali Mata track due to cardiac arrest today. He has been identified as Jyothula, 71, son of Thatabbay of 511 PallapuVeedhi, Undur, East Godavari , Andhra Pradesh. He was not accompanied by any relative or companion. With this, the death toll in the ongoing pilgrimage has touched 33 excluding 15 pilgrims who died in cloudburst of July 18 at lower cave.
Five pilgrims who came from Madhya Pradesh (MP) on Bicycle crossed Udhampur today on way to holy cave. Among them, two pilgrims are coming for the fourth time on bicycle from MP to holy cave while three are coming for the first time. They earlier paid obeisance at holy darbar of Mata Vaishno Devi at Katra and later left for darshan of Baba Amarnath.
These pilgrims said that they faced no problem enroute and Army and local police is providing all support to them. They expressed the hope that their yatra will be successful and they will take the bicycles to the base camp wherefrom they will go by foot to perform darshan of Bhole Baba.
Meanwhile, a fresh batch of 4898 pilgrims left Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas early this morning under tight security measures in a cavalcade of 159 vehicles for twin base camps of Nunwan -Pahalgam in South Kashmir district of Anantnag and Baltal in Central Kashmir district of Ganderbal where from they will proceed for holy cave early tomorrow morning.
Among them, 3062 pilgrims preferred the traditional 48 kilometre Chandanwari track while 1836 pilgrims opted for shortest 14 km long Baltal route.
However, the yatris waiting at registration counters in Panchayat Ghar at Railhead have expressed their grave concern over lack of facilities. They said there is neither facility of drinking water nor any shade to give protection to them from heat or rain. They said that the pilgrims waiting there in long queues for hours together are facing many hardships and alleged that the claims made by the authorities of making adequate arrangements for Amarnath bound yatris are totally baseless.
Same problems the visiting pilgrims alleged are being faced by them at other counters in the city.