Weather forces suspension of yatra

Shri Amarnath Ji pilgrims chanting ‘Bum Bum Bholey’ at Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas as yatra remains suspended on Sunday. —Excelsior/Rakesh
Shri Amarnath Ji pilgrims chanting ‘Bum Bum Bholey’ at Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas as yatra remains suspended on Sunday. —Excelsior/Rakesh

1600 pilgrims perform darshan
Avtar Bhat
JAMMU, July 28: While Shri Amarnath yatra remained suspended from twin tracks of Baltal -Sonamarg and Chandanwari -Pahalgam for the second consecutive day today, the yatra from Jammu to Kashmir was halted due to heavy rains which lashed the State for last four days and blockade of Jammu -Srinagar National Highway due to landsliding at various places.
No yatri was allowed to leave for holy cave from base camps of Baltal and Nunwan due to slippery tracks as heavy rains lashed the Kashmir valley, officials said.
However, 1,692 pilgrims who had reached the cave shrine situated at an altitude of 3,880 metre in South Kashmir Himalayas were allowed to offer prayers during the day, they said. Till date, 3,19,355 pilgrims had performed darshan at holy cave since the 46 day long yatra started on July 1 from both the tracks.
“To avoid any untoward incident, no pilgrim was allowed from the three main base camps-Bhagwati Nagar in Jammu, Nunwan-Pahalgam in Anantnag district and Baltal in Ganderbal district-this morning,” a yatra official said.
He said the yatra from the base camps was suspended for the second consecutive day today in view of the intermittent rains in wide parts of the State for the fourth successive day which rendered the tracks unsafe.
The helicopter service was also suspended for the day due to bad weather, the official said.
All the pilgrims who had reached various halting stations enroute to the cave are safe.
Today 1,629 pilgrims paid their obeisance at the cave shrine, housing the naturally formed ice-Shivlingam, raising the footfall so far this year to 3,19,355.
He said though yatra from Jammu was resumed yesterday after remaining suspended on July 26 due to inclement weather conditions on that day, it was again suspended today due to heavy rainfall and landslides on Jammu -Srinagar National Highway.
State Meteorological Department Director, Sonam Lotus said there was no forecast of any major change in the prevailing weather conditions.
“We expect significant fall in temperature at Baltal, holy cave and Sheshnag areas during next couple of days. Holy cave area may even get snowfall,” he said, urging the pilgrims to take necessary precautionary measures and wear woolen clothes and raincoats to stay warm.
He said significant improvement is most likely from August 1 onwards.
A total of 33 people including 29 pilgrims, two ‘Sevadaars’ (volunteers) and two security personnel have died, mostly due to natural causes, since the commencement of the yatra this year.
Deaths due to cardiac arrest triggered by lack of oxygen in the area around the cave shrine have been common over the years, prompting the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board to issue regular health advisories to pilgrims.
As many as 40 pilgrims have been taken ill or sustained injuries due to shooting stones and other causes since the commencement of the pilgrimage, the officials said.
They added that 3926 pilgrims who reached the twin base camps of Baltal and Nunwan yesterday are camping there since yesterday and they will only be allowed to leave for darshan of holy cave after the weather improves.
All the pilgrims are safe at the respective base camps and halting stations , officials said, adding the elaborate arrangements for their boarding and lodging have been made by the Government and Shrine Board.
Meanwhile, about 4000 pilgrims are camping in Jammu, officials said. They said out of them near 2000 pilgrims are putting up at Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas waiting to leave for twin base camps of Nunwan and Baltal.
Reports reaching here said that 656 pilgrims from different parts of country crossed the gateway of Lakhanpur during last 24 hours in 75 vehicles. Besides, the large number of pilgrims continue to reach here through train services from different parts of country.
All the pilgrims are high in spirits and they were seen singing the bhajans in praise of Lord Shiva and Shri Amarnath Ji at Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas throughout the day.