Yatra crosses last year’s mark in 33 days, touches 2.62 lakh

Avtar Bhat
JAMMU, July 30: Annual Swami Amarnath Ji yatra which started on June 28 this year has crossed the last year’s mark of 2,60,000 pilgrims who visited the holy cave, after 3,827 yatris drawn from various parts of country paid obeisance at the cave shrine today.
As per last year’s figures, 2,60,003 pilgrims performed darshan at holy cave during 40 days of pilgrimage while in 33 days of darshan during the ongoing yatra, 2,62,314 pilgrims paid obeisance at naturally formed Ice Lingam in the holy cave situated at an altitude of 3880 metres above the sea level in deep Himalayas of South Kashmir’s Anantnag district.
This has happened despite the fact that the yatra faced initial disturbances for some days on account of inclement weather, heavy rainfall and shooting stones resulting into the death of four pilgrims on Baltal track and suspension of yatra for some days.
However, the yatris were in high spirits from the very first day of pilgrimage and braving all vagaries of weather, they did not give in to conquer the treacherous and hazards tracks to perform the darshan of Ice Lingam in the holy cave.
Though there has been a considerable decline in the rush of pilgrims for last over one week still over 3000 pilgrims have been daily performing darshan in the cave shrine from twin Baltal and Chandanwari tracks indicating that the yatra may cross three lakh mark this year.
It may be recalled that the two month- long yatra will culminate on Shravan Purnima coinciding with Raksha Bandhan festival falling on August 26 after the holy mace of Lord Shiva led by Mahant Deependera Giri, its sole custodian, will reach the cave shrine from Dashnami Akhara, Srinagar.
However, 31 pilgrims including some sevadars and a BSF officer have died so far during this year’s yatra.
According to an officer on yatra duty, 845 pilgrims left for holy cave early this morning from shortest Baltal track while 340 left by Chopper. He said about 3000 pilgrims are staying at Baltal for night and they include those yatris also who returned to base camp by this evening after paying obeisance at cave shrine.
He said the pilgrims who reached Baltal by this evening after performing darshan at holy cave will leave for summer capital tomorrow morning on the way to their home States.
He said 623 pilgrims left from Chandanwari to holy cave this morning, while the pilgrims staying at transit camps of Sheshnag and Panjtarni also left for their onwards sojourn in the morning.
Meanwhile, a fresh batch of 724 Swami Amarnath Ji, pilgrims left Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas here this morning for the twin base camps in Kashmir, Yatra Nodal Officer, Jammu, Arun Manhas said. The pilgrims left in a convoy of 19 vehicles with all security arrangements in place, he added.
He said 441 pilgrims including 51 Sadhus were registered at three registration counters at Jammu today and they will leave for twin base camps of Swami Amarnath Ji in Kashmir valley early tomorrow morning.