Yatra resumes from Jammu, Pahalgam; remains suspended from Baltal

Amarnath Ji yatris on way to holy cave via Chandanwari track on Monday. -Excelsior/Sajjad Dar
Amarnath Ji yatris on way to holy cave via Chandanwari track on Monday. -Excelsior/Sajjad Dar

Avtar Bhat
JAMMU, July 29: Shri Amarnath Ji yatra resumed from Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas here and Nunwan -Pahalgam base camp in Anantnag district of South Kashmir while it remained suspended from Baltal route in Ganderbal district of Central Kashmir for third consecutive day today, officials said.
However, on the 29th day of the ongoing yatra 2,055 pilgrims drawn from different parts of the country paid obeisance at Himalayan cave today. Till date 3,21,410 pilgrims performed pilgrimage at holy cave from twin tracks since the yatra started on July 1.
After frequent disruptions due to inclement weather over the past four days, the yatra was this morning resumed from Nunwan Pahalgam base camp in Kashmir valley to holy cave and Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas here the base camp of the yatra in Jammu, towards Kashmir valley, officials said.
They said following the improvement in weather, a fresh batch of 2,675 pilgrims, including 492 women and 174 Seers, left the Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas, after a day-long suspension yesterday due to closure of Jammu -Srinagar National Highway after landsliding and shooting stones at various places on stretch of NH from Ramban to Banihal.
They said the yatris who left from here for the base camps of Kashmir in a convoy of 113 vehicles under tight security arrangements in the early hours after the 270-km Jammu-Srinagar National Highway was cleared for traffic also included three children.
The Highway, the only all weather road linking Kashmir with rest of the country, was closed for traffic on Sunday after heavy rains triggered a landslide at Kella Morh and shooting stones at four more places including Panthiyal, Digdole, Anokhi fall and Maroog in Ramban district. The road was cleared of the debris and made traffic worthy late last night.
With improvement in weather, the 26th batch of Amarnath pilgrims was allowed towards Kashmir valley and it reached the twin base camps of Nunwan and Baltal later in the evening, the officials said.
Of the latest batch from Jammu, they said 1,544 pilgrims, including 207 women and 174 Sadhus, were heading for Pahalgam base camp for the yatra, while the rest of 1,131 yatris including 285 women and three children have preferred Baltal route.
The 46-day yatra commenced from the twin tracks — traditional 36-km Pahalgam in Anantnag district and shorter 14-km Baltal route — on July 1 and is scheduled to culminate on Shravan Purnima coinciding with Raksha Bandhan festival which falls on August 15 after the holy mace (Chhari Mubarak) of Lord Shiva reaches the cave shrine from its abode Dashnami Akhara Srinagar.
The officials said 1,136 pilgrims were allowed from Nunwan base camp along Pahalgam route towards the cave shrine today morning, resuming the yatra from there.
However, the yatra along the shorter Baltal route continued to remain suspended for the third day as intermittent rains rendered the track slippery and unsafe for travelers, the officials said. They added that weather, however, has improved in yatra area and the yatra from Baltal base camp will also be resumed tomorrow morning.
Sources said over 3000 pilgrims are camping at Baltal.
They said the helicopter service, which too was suspended on Sunday due to bad weather, also resumed from both the routes today after improvement in the weather.
Officials said there has been a decline in yatra rush for last one week. Reports reaching here said that 265 pilgrims have crossed the gateway of Lakhanpur towards Jammu in 21 vehicles during last 24 hours while a week prior the number entering the State via Lakhanpur was in thousands.
Over 1000 pilgrims have reached the Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas by this evening and they are all set to leave for holy cave early tomorrow morning, officials said.