Yatra resumes from Baltal, Chandanwari tracks; over 18000 perform darshan

Yatris in queues at Panchtarni ready to leave for holy cave on Sunday. -Excelsior/Sajad Dar
Yatris in queues at Panchtarni ready to leave for holy cave on Sunday. -Excelsior/Sajad Dar

Avtar Bhat
JAMMU, July 17: Shri Amarnath yatra which remained suspended yesterday was resumed from both Baltal and Chandanwari tracks this morning after improvement in the weather condition in the yatra area and a record number of 18,972 pilgrims performed darshan of Ice Lingam in a single day during the ongoing pilgrimage since the 43 day long yatra started on June 30 this year.
According to officials, 18,972 pilgrims drawn from different parts of the country performed darshan of naturally formed Ice Lingam at holy cave of Baba Amarnath situated in snow bound Himalayas in South Kashmir district of Anantnag at an altitude of 3880 meters above sea level.
Officials said that the yatra was resumed early morning after remaining suspended via both Baltal and Chandanwari tracks due to heavy downpour yesterday and slippery tracks. It was resumed early this morning from both the tracks after improvement in the weather. The weather for entire day remained sunny and there was hassle-free pilgrimage on both the tracks, officials added.
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With 18,972 pilgrims performing darshan at cave shrine today, the total number of 1,83,811 pilgrims paid obeisance at Shri Amarnath Ji Shrine during last 18 days of darshan. Among them, majority of pilgrims have returned to their home States while others are on the way. The officials said the pilgrims who performed darshan at holy cave by this evening started their return journey towards Panjtarni and Baltal.
Meanwhile, one more pilgrim died at lower holy cave today due to cardiac arrest. He has been identified as Mayankl Gupta, 44, son of Mahesh Chander Gupta of 48 Murari Puram Garh Road, Meerut, UP.
His body was shifted to Baltal base camp. With this, the total number of pilgrims who died during ongoing yatra has touched 31, excluding 15 pilgrims who were killed during July 8 cloudburst near lower cave area.
Officials said 9727 pilgrims left for holy cave from Baltal base camp this morning. Out of them, 8721 went by foot while 1006 left by chopper. A total number of 9163 pilgrims were staying at Baltal base camp during last night, officials added.
Officials said 3628 pilgrims left from Nunwan-Pahalgam base camp for onwards sojourn while 5656 started yatra from Sheshnag towards Panchtarni early this morning. Besides, 9200 pilgrims left from Panchtarni to holy cave for darshan, they added.
Reports reaching here said that there is lot of enthusiasm among the yatris whose spirits are not dampened by the vagaries of weather and tough terrain. The yatris are all praise of the arrangements made by the SASB and authorities as well as the social organizations who have installed Langars enroute and local service providers.
Meanwhile, 18th batch of 5284 pilgrims left Bhagawati Nagar Yatri Niwas here for the twin base camps of Nunwan in Anantnag district of South Kashmir and Baltal in Ganderbal district of Central Kashmir early this morning in a cavalcade of 225 vehicles under tight security measures.
Among them, 3541 preferred the longest 48 kilometer Chandanwari-Nunwan track while 1743 opted for the shortest 14 km Baltal track. These pilgrims have reached to their respective destinations by this evening, officials added.
The number of pilgrims continued to increase day by day as 3000 yatris crossed the gateway of Lakhanpur in Kathua district by road up to this evening while thousands of more have reached via rail and air today for their onwards sojourn to holy cave.
The 43 day long annual yatra of Shri Amarnath Ji will conclude on Shravan Purnima coinciding with Raksha Bandhan festival falling on August 11 -the day when the holy mace of Baba Amarnath will reach cave shrine from its abode Dashnami Akhara, Srinagar in Kashmir valley.
Meanwhile, a case of theft of cash and mobile phones has come to the fore from the devotees who came to visit Baba Amarnath Ji. According to the information received, Bharat Lal, a resident of district Dhar of Madhya Pradesh said that someone has stolen Rs 10,000 and Aadhar Card from his bag. He said that Rs 30,000 of another devotee and his two mobile phones have been stolen at the yatri camp near Chechi Mata temple in Samba.
He said that they were traveling together in the bus. Taking cognizance of the theft, the Samba police has started investigation in the matter.