Yatra resumes from Baltal route, over 10,000 perform darshan

Huge rush of pilgrims near holy cave of Shri Amarnath after yatra was resumed from Baltal track on Tuesday. -Excelsior/Abid Nabi
Huge rush of pilgrims near holy cave of Shri Amarnath after yatra was resumed from Baltal track on Tuesday. -Excelsior/Abid Nabi

Holy mace to be taken to Pahalgam today
Avtar Bhat

JAMMU, July 12: After remaining suspended for three consecutive days following cloudburst near holy cave which triggered flash floods on Friday last in which 16 pilgrims died while 40 others are reportedly still missing, the Amarnathji yatra was resumed this morning from the shortest 14 kilometer Baltal track to cave shrine.
Click here to watch video
The yatra from traditional 48 kilometer Chandanwari –Panchtarni track was resumed yesterday. With resumption of yatra from Baltal track, over 10,000 pilgrims performed darshan at cave shrine by this evening, an official of Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) said.
He said today 10,309 pilgrims drawn from different parts of the country performed the darshan of naturally formed Ice Lingam in the cave shrine situated at an altitude of 3880 meters in snow bound Himalayas. With this a total number of 1.28 lakh pilgrims performed darshan at holy cave since the 43 day annual pilgrimage started on June 30, this year.
According to officials, the yatra from Baltal track was resumed early this morning after the track which was damaged at three places at Brarimarg, Kalimata and Railpathri due to last week’s landslides and shooting stones was restored by the joint teams of Army, security forces and Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) staff. They worked round the clock to make track functional for pilgrims, the official added.
The yatris, who remained stranded at Baltal for four days are in high spirits and they were very much enthusiastic to leave for darshan from Baltal this morning chanting `Bum Bum Bhole’ and ‘Baba Barfani Ki Jai’. They were also praise for the arrangements and support provided to them by security forces, Shrine Board officials, Bhandara people and local service providers during their stay at Baltal.
Officials said thousands of pilgrims from Nunwan base camp, Chandanwari, Sheshnag and Panchtarni camps also left for their onwards sojourn early this morning. They said over 4000 pilgrims left from Panchtarni to holy cave since this morning and later the exit gate at Panchtarni was closed due to rain fall in the cave shrine area in the afternoon and no pilgrim was allowed to move further to avoid any untoward incident.
Spokesman said that there were 7980 pilgrims staying at Panchtarni last night while 3529 pilgrims left Nunwan base for onwards sojourn this morning. He said 8311 pilgrims had a night stay at Sheshnag while 7264 pilgrims left from Domail to holy cave today. Besides, hundreds of pilgrims left through choppers also, he added.
The weather in the holy cave area remained cloudy during the day and it drizzled in the cave shrine area during the afternoon, spokesman said.
Reports said that undeterred by vagaries of weather thousands of pilgrims are also reaching Jammu daily from different parts of country for their onwards journey to holy cave. About 3600 Amarnathji bound pilgrims crossed Lakhanpur in Kathua district by this evening while thousands reached here via train and by air.
Meanwhile a 13th batch of 7107 pilgrims left from Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas, Jammu for the twin base camps of Nunwan -Pahalgam in South Kashmir district of Anantnag and Baltal in Central Kashmir district of Ganderbal early this morning under tight security measures in a cavalcade of 265 vehicles. Out of them 5158 pilgrims preferred the longest and traditional Pahalgam -Chandanwari track while 1949 preferred the shortest Baltal track.
These pilgrims had reached their destinations by this evening where from they will leave for their onwards sojourn early tomorrow morning.
The Silver mace of Lord Shiva will be taken to Pahalgam by its sole custodian, Mahant Deependra Giriji Maharaj from its abode Dashnami Akhara, Srinagar tomorrow on the eve of Ashad Purnima known as Guru Purnima also for performing traditional rituals by Sadhus. Later the holy mace will be taken back to Dashnami Akhara, Srinagar in the evening after performing rituals at Pahalgam.