5,522 pilgrims leave Jammu for Amarnath cave shrine
Jammu: The fifth batch with the highest number of 5,522 pilgrims so far left a base camp here for the holy cave shrine of Amarnath, located at a height of 3,880 metres in the south Kashmir Himalayas, amid tight security arrangements on Thursday.
As many as 35,000 pilgrims had paid obeisance at the cave shrine till Thursday afternoon, officials said.
Over 1.5 lakh pilgrims from across the country have so far registered themselves for the 46-day long pilgrimage, which has two routes -- the 36-km Pahalgam track in Jammu and Kashmir's Anantnag district and the 14-km stretch from Baltal in Ganderbal district.
The fifth batch of 5,522 pilgrims -- 4,456 men, 871 women, 31 children and 164 seers -- left the Bhagwati Nagar base camp here at around 3.30 am for Pahalgam and Baltal in a fleet of 235 vehicles, officials said.
As many as 2,501 pilgrims left the base camp for the Pahalgam route in 106 buses and light motor vehicles, while 2,520 left for Baltal in 129 buses and light motor vehicles, which were escorted by Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel, they added.
Thursday's batch has the highest number of pilgrims. Previously, the highest number of 4,823 pilgrims had left Jammu for the holy cave shrine on Tuesday.
The "yatra" to the holy cave commenced on Monday from both the Baltal and Pahalgam routes in the Kashmir valley.
On Wednesday, 13,800 devotees paid obeisance to the ice lingam of Lord Shiva at the cave shrine. The first batch of pilgrims was flagged off from here on Sunday.
Multi-tier security arrangements have been put in place for a smooth and successful conduct of the "yatra" scheduled to conclude on August 15.
As many as 2.85 lakh pilgrims had paid obeisance at the cave shrine last year, while the numbers were 3.52 lakh in 2015, 3.20 lakh in 2016 and 2.60 lakh in 2017.