43-day long Amarnath Yatra commences

1st batch of pilgrims flagged off from Baltal, Nunwan base camps
Labourers carry a Hindu devotee as along the Baltal route towards Amarnath cave, on Thursday 30 June 2022.
Labourers carry a Hindu devotee as along the Baltal route towards Amarnath cave, on Thursday 30 June 2022.Mubashir Khan for Greater Kashmir

Baltal/Pahalgam: The 43-day long Amarnath Yatra to the holy cave shrine located in south Kashmir Himalayas commenced on Thursday amid heightened security arrangements. The annual Amarnath Yatra resumed after a gap of two years. Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha performed the first ritual at the Holy Cave Thursday morning.

Chants of ‘Bam Bam Bhole’ and ‘Har Har Mahadev’ reverberated the air at daybreak, as ecstatic pilgrims began the journey to the Amarnath Cave Shrine housed among the mighty Himalayan peaks at an elevation of 3880 metres.

The pilgrims included men, women, sadhus, old and young. From Baltal Base Camp, Commissioner Secretary Revenue, Vijay Kumar Bidhuri early Thursday morning flagged off first batch of 6823 pilgrims of from Baltal Base Camp in central Kashmir's Ganderbal district to holy cave in presence of Deputy Commissioner Ganderbal, Shyambir and SSP Ganderbal, Nikhil Borkar.

While as Deputy Commissioner Anantnag Dr Piyush Singla flagged off the first batch of 2,450 pilgrims from the Nunwan base camp at Pahalgam in south Kashmir's Anantnag district.

Deputy Commissioner Anantnag, Dr Piyush Singla said that first batch of 2450 pilgrims was flagged off from Nunwan, adding that about 6200 pilgrims left for the holy cave from axis on Thursday.

Deputy Commissioner Ganderbal, Shyambir Singh told Greater Kashmir that about 7000 pilgrims left for the holy cave for darshan on first day of yatra on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the pilgrims expressed happiness over the resumption of the annual pilgrimage this year after a gap of two years. In 2019, the Yatra was curtailed days ahead of the abrogation of Article 370.

The pilgrimage did not take place in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. " We are excited as it is a matter of immense happiness that the Yatra is taking place this year and we will be able to have darshan,'' the devotees said.

The yatris were enthusiastic to see the arrangements in place. They were happy as the locals extended full support and coordination to them.

Most of the pilgrims expressed happiness over the arrangements made by the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) and the J&K UT administration. “This is a moment of happiness. The arrangements are very good. We are satisfied and have no complaints,” a pilgrim from Delhi, said.

All arrangements have been put in place by the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) and the UT administration to ensure smooth pilgrimage to the naturally formed ice-lingam at the cave shrine, officials said.

This year, the pilgrimage is expected to see higher than usual attendance of pilgrims as the Yatra is resuming after a gap of two years. Dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, the Amarnath cave shrine is located at 13,000 feet above the sea level.

Baltal route in central Kashmir's Ganderbal district is the shortest route. While pilgrims take a few days from the Pahalgam base camp to reach the cave, those using the Baltal route return back to the base camp after the darshan the same day.

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