The first batch of Hindu pilgrims, consisting of 12,000 people from across the country arrived Sunday morning at the two base camps in Jammu and Kashmir for the Amarnath Yatra, scheduled to being from June 25, 2012 amid three tier security.
For conducting smooth processing of pilgrimage, authorities have stepped up the three tier security – Police, Army and paramilitary forces along the route of the pilgrimage. The state police and jawans of Central Reserve Police Forces (CRPF) have been deployed in the way along with army security guards.
According to news sources, around 10,000 pilgrims have reached to North Kashmir’s Baltal base camp in the morning while around 2,000 pilgrims have reached to South Kashmir’s Pahalgam base camp where they will begin their 34-k.m. journey from tomorrow.
They will take four days to complete 34 k.m. tough journey from Pahalgam to cave while those begin journey from Baltal route will go and return on the same day after the ‘darshan’.
The trek from Baltal to the Cave Shrine is 14 kilometres long.
Situated at an altitude of 13,000 feet, the Amarnath Cave houses the 'Holy Lingam' an ice stalagmite structure believed to symbolise the powers of Lord Shiva.
The 'Lingam' waxes and wanes with the cycles of the moon till the end of the Yatra coinciding with the Hindu festival of 'Shravan Purnima'.
This year's Yatra will officially begin tomorrow and end on August 2.
State governor, N N Vohra who is also the chairman of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) visited the two base camps of the Yatra and various halting points en route to the Cave Shrine Saturday along with a team of state government officials.
The SASB has said the twin treks from Baltal and Pahalgam have been cleared for the passage of the pilgrims even though Vohra said the treks were still slippery at many places.
Scores of makeshift tea-stalls and food shops have been opened by local Muslims along the 85-kilometre long Srinagar- Baltal route for the pilgrims.
All the potters and ponywallahs assisting the passage of the pilgrims along both the Yatra treks are local Muslims who eagerly wait for the arrival of the Hindu pilgrims to earn their livelihood.
Dozens of other state government offices including medical department, public health engineering, public works, revenue etc are also detailed on Yatra duties to facilitate its smooth conduct.
--With IANS Inputs--