Today: Jun 17, 2024

Over 7,000 pilgrims leave for Amarnath cave from Jammu, over half return due to highway closure

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Jammu: A fresh batch of 7,053 Amarnath pilgrims left the Bhagwati Nagar base camp here on Saturday for the twin base camps in Ganderbal district but over half of them were forced to return due to highway closure, officials said.

The pilgrims left in 243 vehicles escorted by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), they said.

As many as 2,504 pilgrims headed to the Baltal base camp were the first to leave in 88 vehicles, followed by the second convoy of 155 vehicles carrying 4,649 pilgrims to the Pahalgam base camp, the officials said.

However, the convoy headed to Pahalgam returned to the Bhagwati Nagar base camp as the Jammu-Srinagar highway was closed due to landslides triggered by rains. The convoy headed to Baltal was halted at Ramban and the pilgrims were housed in the Yatri Niwas camp.

Heavy overnight rains in Jammu have triggered landslides and mudslides.

The Amarnath Yatra was suspended from Jammu on Friday due to inclement weather and bad condition of the Jammu-Srinagar national highway.

The 43-day Amarnath Yatra to the 3,880-metre-high cave shrine in south Kashmir Himalayas commenced on June 29.

So far, over 2.22 lakh pilgrims have offered prayers at the cave shrine, housing the naturally formed ice Shiv lingam, the officials said.

The pilgrimage is scheduled to end on August 11 on the occasion of Raksha Bandhan.

So far, 35 people, mostly pilgrims, have died during the ongoing Amarnath Yatra. This excludes 15 pilgrims who died in a flash flood near the cave shrine on July 08, the officials said.