Amarnath Yatra Begins From Twin Routes Of Pahalgam, Baltal

Security arrangements have been put in place to ensure the 45-day pilgrimage passes off peacefully.

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Amarnath Yatra Begins From Twin Routes Of Pahalgam, Baltal

The Centre has provided additional 40,000 paramilitary forces for the Amarnath Yatra.

Srinagar:  The annual yatra to the holy shrine of Amarnath began from the twin routes of Pahalgam and Baltal amidst tight security arrangements today. Over 6,000 pilgrims were allowed to move towards the shrine from north Kashmir's Baltal base camp while 5,000 pilgrims proceeded from the traditional south Kashmir Pahalgam route.

"The yatra began early this morning from both the routes and so far more than 500 pilgrims have paid obeisance at the cave shrine housing the naturally formed ice-lingam," a police official said.

Around 1.2 lakh pilgrims have registered themselves this year.

Earlier, 66 vehicles with 2,481 pilgrims left the Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas from Jammu.

An official said while 1,616 pilgrims were bound for the Pahalgam route, 865 would take the Baltal route.

Security arrangements have been put in place to ensure the 45-day pilgrimage passes off peacefully. Among the steps are a satellite tracking system, drones, mobile bunker vehicles and road opening parties (ROPs) along the entire route from Jammu to Pahalgam and Baltal.

The Centre has provided an additional 40,000 paramilitary forces to assist the state government for a peaceful conduct of the Yatra.

Although militant outfits and separatist groups have assured that the annual pilgrimage would not be targeted, the security agencies are not leaving anything to chance.

Police and CRPF personnel are being assisted by ITBP and army personnel to safeguard the two routes leading to the cave shrine.

This year, the Amarnath yatra will be eight days shorter than last year's 48 days and will conclude on Shravan Purnima (Raksha Bandhan) on August 7.

An ITBP officer had yesterday died of cardiac arrest near the cave shrine in South Kashmir.

It takes a pilgrim just a day to return to the Baltal base camp after reaching the shrine. But the same pilgrimage from Pahalgam takes four days.

The distance from Baltal to the cave is 14 km and from Pahalgam 46 km.

The cave houses an ice stalagmite structure believed to symbolize the mythical powers of Lord Shiva. The structure waxes and wanes corresponding to the visible moon.

(With inputs from PTI and IANS)

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