52-day Amarnath Yatra begins today, pilgrims leave for holy cave

The first batch of 4,603 pilgrims reached the Kashmir Valley on Friday evening as the Amarnath Yatra commenced on Saturday.
52-day Amarnath Yatra begins today, pilgrims leave for holy cave
Source: IANS

The annual Amarnath Yatra commenced on Saturday with the initial batch of over 4,600 pilgrims proceeding to the holy cave from the base camp in the Kashmir valley.

The yatra convoy, consisting of 231 vehicles, was flagged off from the Bhagwati Nagar base camp in Jammu earlier on Thursday by Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha. Chants of "Bum Bum Bhole" and "Har Har Mahadev" filled the air as Sinha wished the pilgrims a safe and successful journey.

Upon arrival in the valley on Friday evening, the pilgrims were greeted with garlands and cheers in Kulgam, Anantnag, Srinagar, and Bandipora districts.

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52-day Amarnath Yatra begins today, pilgrims leave for holy cave

Notably, local Muslims joined senior officials from the police, members of civil society, the trade fraternity, fruit growers, and market associations in welcoming the yatris.

"We welcome all of them. There are proper arrangements in place for them," Kulgam Deputy Commissioner (DC) Athar Aamir Khan told news agency PTI.

The pilgrims reached the valley through the Navyug tunnel in the Qazigund area of south Kashmir's Kulgam district.

From the valley, the 52-day pilgrimage, which involves a trek to the holy cave shrine located at an altitude of 3,880 meters, will begin on twin tracks -- the traditional 48-km Nunwan-Pahalgam route in Anantnag and the 14-km Baltal route in Ganderbal.

Elaborate security arrangements in place

Officials have assured a smooth yatra for the over 3.5 lakh pilgrims registered this year, which will conclude on August 19.

A three-tier security plan has been implemented to ensure the safety of the pilgrims. This includes area domination, elaborate route deployment, and checkpoints. Traffic restrictions will be imposed on various routes from today until August 19, with daily advisories issued to minimise inconvenience to commuters.

Over 125 community kitchens set up

For feeding the pilgrims, over 125 community kitchens (langars) have been set up along the two routes to the holy cave shrine.

These kitchens are supported by over 6,000 volunteers who will be providing food and refreshments to the yatris throughout their journey.

The Amarnath Yatra is a major cultural event that brings together people from all walks of life. According to Hindu mythology, the Amarnath cave is where Lord Shiva revealed the secrets of life and eternity to Goddess Parvati. The naturally formed ice lingam inside the cave is seen as a manifestation of Shiva himself.

Source: India Today

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