Pilgrims bound for Amarnath in Jammu and Kashmir can now avail helicopter service to the cave shrine of Lord Shiva for just Rs 1445 beginning May 7 this year, says Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Naveen Choudhary.
He said, "from 7th May on wards, the interested <i)Yatris</i> can reserve their heli-seats for Amarnath yatra through the web based on-line Reservation System by logging on to the Shrine Board's website".
To reduce inconvenience and delays, the pilgrims travelling by the helicopter services would not be required to obtain a Yatra Permit but shall need to furnish a Compulsory Health Certificate before being allowed to board the helicopter, Mr Choudhary said.
The CEO explained that the helicopter ticket would serve as Yatra Permit for the pilgrims travelling by helicopter services as the format of the ticket would contain the information required by the Board.
Mr Choudhary also said that the helicopter services for the pilgrims, who wish to avail of such facilities, would be available on each of the two routes - Baltal-Panjtarni-Baltal and Pahalgam-Panjtarni-Pahalgam.
The one way heli-fare for Baltal-Panjtarni and Pahalgam-Panjtarni has been fixed at Rs 1445 and Rs 2355, respectively, he said.
From Panjtarni to the Holy Cave, a hilly track of about 6 kilometres, the pilgrims may have to travel on foot or by Ponies or <i>Palkies</i> (palanquins) as per their convenience.
The CEO said that this year one-way passenger fare for Baltal-Panjtarni has been reduced to Rs 1445 from Rs 2425 last year. Like-wise, the one-way passenger fare for Pahalgam-Panjtarni has been reduced to Rs 2355 from Rs 3495 last year.
"At a time when air fares are going up all over the world, there is some extremely good news for the devotees who wish to perform Amarnath Yatra in 2012. The one-way helicopter fares for the pilgrims this year have been reduced by over 40 per cent on the Baltal-Panjtarni route and by over 35 per cent on the Pahalgam-Panjtarni route", he said.