The annual Amarnath pilgrimage crossed last year's total of 2.85 lakh yatris in just 22 days, even as a fresh batch of over 3,000 pilgrims left Jammu on Tuesday for the cave shrine located at an altitude of 3,880 metre in the south Kashmir Himalayas, officials said.
The 46-day yatra, which commenced on July 1 on the twin routes of Pahalgam, in Anantnag district, and Baltal, in Ganderbal district, crossed last year's figure of 2.85 lakh on Monday evening, they said.
"During last year's yatra of 60 days, the total number of pilgrims who visited the holy cave shrine was 2,85,006, whereas this year, the pilgrimage has crossed this number in 22 days," an official said.
As many as 3,52,771 pilgrims performed the yatra in 2015, 3,20,490 in 2016 and 2,60,003 in 2017.
Given the rush this time, the yatra is likely to cross the 3 lakh-mark either by Tuesday evening or Wednesday, he added.
The 22nd batch of 3,060 pilgrims, including 808 women and 142 seers, left the Bhagwati Nagar base camp early Tuesday, the officials said.
The batch, which also included five children, left in a fleet of 132 vehicles and will be reaching the twin base camps of Pahalgam and Baltal in the Valley later in the day.
With this, a total of 1,02,465 pilgrims have left the Bhagwati Nagar base camp so far, they said.
The 46-day yatra is scheduled to end on August 15, coinciding with the Raksha Bandhan festival.
Of the latest batch, the officials said 1,951 pilgrims, including 403 women, 142 seers and two children, are headed for Pahalgam, while 1,109 pilgrims, including 405 women and three children, are going to perform the yatra on the Baltal route, the officials said.
The yatra is going on smoothly on both the routes, they added.
The number of deaths in this year's pilgrimage is 22, which includes 18 pilgrims, two volunteers and as many security force personnel deployed on the route of the yatra.
All pilgrims are required to get a fitness certificate before undertaking the pilgrimage.