Over 2.70 lakh pilgrims have performed the ongoing AmarnathYatra during the last 21 days as another batch of 3,178 pilgrims on Monday leftJammu for Kashmir Valley, officials said.
Officials of Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) said sincethe Yatra started on July 1, a total of 2,72,004 pilgrims had 'darshan' insidethe cave shrine.
Police said another batch of 3,178 pilgrims left BhagwatiNagar Yatri Niwas in two escorted convoys.
"Of these, 1,544 are going to Baltal base camp while1m634 are going t o Pahalgam base camp," a police officer said.
Situated 3,888 metres above the sea level in Kashmir'sHimalayas, the cave shrine houses an ice stalagmite structure that symbolisesmythical powers of Lord Shiva according to the devotees.
The ice structure waxes and wanes with the phases of theMoon. Pilgrims approach the cave shrine either through the longer 45 km longPahalgam route or the shorter 14 km long Baltal route.
Those using the Baltal route return to the base camp thesame day after performing the Yatra. Helicopter services are available for thepilgrims at both the base camps.
Local Muslims are lending a helping hand to ensure thattheir Hindu brethren can perform the Yatra with ease and convenience to upholdthe centuries-old tradition of Kashmir, abode of saints and Sufis.
The cave shrine was discovered in 1850 by a Muslim shepherdnamed Buta Malik. To reward the shepherd, a saint gave him a bag of charcoalthat turned out to be gold, says the local folklore.
Symbolically, the lore turned out to b e true. Thedescendants of the shepherd have shared a portion of the offerings at the caveshrine for over 150 years.
This year's Amarnath Yatra will conclude on August 15coinciding with the Shravan Purnima festival.