Srinagar, Aug 6: After remaining suspended for a day, an escorted convoy of 1,626 pilgrims left Jammu to perform the ongoing Amarnath Yatra on Sunday.
The yatra was suspended on Saturday. Officials said that the batch of 1626 pilgrims, including 1303 males, 252 females, seven children, 51 Sadhus and 13 Sadhvis left Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas in Jammu in an escorted convoy for the Valley.
Since it started on July 1, so far, more than 4 lakh pilgrims have performed this year’s Amarnath Yatra.
High altitude sickness and other natural causes have killed 36 pilgrims during this year’s Amarnath Yatra.
Pilgrims approach the Himalayan cave shrine either from the traditional south Kashmir Pahalgam route, which involves an uphill trek of 43 kilometres from Pahalgam base camp or from the north Kashmir Baltal base camp, which involves 14 Km uphill trek.
Those using the traditional Pahalgam route take 3-4 days to reach the cave shrine while those using the Baltal route return to the base camp the same day after having ‘darshan’ inside the cave shrine situated 3888 metres above the sea-level.
Helicopter services are also available for Yatris on both routes.
The cave shrine houses an ice stalagmite structure that devotees believe symbolises mythical powers of Lord Shiva.
The ice stalagmite structure wanes and waxes with the phases of the moon.
This year’s 62-day long Amarnath Yatra started on July 1 and will end on August 31 on Shravan Purnima coinciding with Raksha Bandhan festival.
To protect the pilgrims from high altitude sickness, authorities have banned all junk food at the free community kitchens called the ‘langars’ that have been set up along both the routes of the Yatra.
The banned items include all bottled drinks, halwai items, fried foods and tobacco based products.