The annual pilgrimage to the Amarnath shrine in south Kashmir from one of the routes was suspended today due to heavy rain and multiple landslides in the valley. The third batch of pilgrims, who left for the yatra this morning, were asked to return. Traffic from Pahalgam, one of the twin routes to the cave shrine, has been suspended for now.
A batch of over 2,876 pilgrims had left a base camp in Jammu in a fleet of 90 vehicles under tight security this morning. However, they will now have to return from Chandanwari, 15 km from Pahalgam.
"No pilgrim was allowed to move towards the Cave Shrine because of rain and slippery conditions along the two treks," an official said.
Landslides in the Banihal-Udhampur sector in Jammu and Kashmir and shooting of stones at four places earlier blocked the 260-km Jammu-Srinagar National Highway - the only all-weather road connecting the Kashmir Valley with the rest of the country, officials said.
Security has been heightened to avoid any untoward incident. "Our personnel are patrolling 24x7. We've also got special dog squad to help us detect suspicious objects and we have also started a helpline, senior superintendent of police, railways, said.
The 60-day annual pilgrimage was scheduled to start from Pahalgam in Anantnag district and Baltal in Ganderbal district Thursday morning. Over two lakh pilgrims have so far registered for the yatra which is scheduled to conclude on August 26 coinciding with the 'Raksha Bandhan' festival.
(With inputs from PTI)