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Kashmir gears up for annual Amaranth pilgrimage

Srinagar, Mon, 11 May 2009 ANI

Srinagar, May 11 (ANI): The preparations for the upcoming Amaranth pilgrimage in Kashmir have begun.


The government with the help of the army has started the construction of road for the pilgrims to reach Pahalgam, the pilgrimage base camp.


The state authorities of Jammu and Kashmir have initiated massive drive to upgrade the roads leading to the holy cave of Amarnath in order to reduce the hardships the pilgrims face while undertaking the pilgrimage.


"When the pilgrimage used to commence earlier, the pilgrims faced a lot of problems. The traffic could only move one way. Now, we are happy with the government and the army, since they have started the work (road laying) very quickly. Now it will be easy for the pilgrims and the tourists to come and go till Pahalgam," said Tariq, a resident.


The pilgrimage to the shrine of Amarnath, which attracts nearly 350,000 pilgrims annually, will commence in June from Pahalgam.


The work on these roads had to be halted for some time due to unfavourable weather conditions few months ago.


However, the authorities claim that most of the road will be ready before the pilgrimage starts in the month of June.


"The project cost of construction of road is 110 crores. The expenditure so far has been 99 crore. Looking at the expenditure incurred so far, the work is being completed. Our target date is June 30," said Mehraj-U-Din, assistant engineer roads and buildings, Jammu and Kashmir Government.


Amaranth stands at a height of nearly 12,500 feet above sea level, 141 kilometers from Srinagar. The base camp for the pilgrimage, Pahalgam, is 96 kilometers south of Srinagar.


A number of pilgrims ride on ponies up the arduous route and for the pony owners this comes as an annual bonanza. (ANI)


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