The 20th batch comprising 4158 pilgrims including 1137 women and 260 sadhus Sunday left Bhagwati Nagar base camp here to offer prayers at the 3,880 metre high holy cave shrine of Amarnath in south Kashmir Himalayas, officials said.
As many as 2,59,889 yatris had visited the cave shrine, housing the naturally formed ice-shivlingam, till Saturday evening since the commencement of the annual 46-day yatra on July 1. The pilgrimage is scheduled to end on August 15, coinciding Raksha Bandhan festival, they said.
A fleet of 156 vehicles carrying the latest batch, which also included 19 children, left the Bhagwati Nagar base camp under tight security arrangements in the early hours Sunday and will be reaching the twin base camps of Pahalgam in Anantnag district and Baltal in Ganderbal district later in the day, the officials said.
While 2139 pilgrims including 751 women and 16 children are registered for Baltal route, the rest of 2019 pilgrims including 386 women, three children and 260 sadhus are heading for Pahalgam to undertake the yatra from there.
The yatra is going on smoothly from both the tracks — traditional 36-km Pahalgam and shorter 14-km Baltal route, the officials said.
As many as 2,85,006 lakh pilgrims had paid obeisance at the shrine last year, while the number of pilgrims was 2,60,003 in 2017, 3,20,490 in 2016 and 3,52,771 in 2015.