Jammu: The annual Amarnath Yatra began in the traditional way on Thursday after a gap of two years. The first batch of 2,750 pilgrims left from Baltal and Pahalgam base camps to visit the Amarnath cave. This holy place is in the Himalayas of South Kashmir where natural snow-Shivalinga is formed here.
The batch was flagged off by Deputy Commissioner Piyush Singla from Nunwan base camp in Pahalgam. During this journey, most of the pilgrims will stay overnight at Sheshnag and Panchtarni along the foot route. This journey is completed in about three days.
Singla said that all arrangements have been made for the smooth conduct of the 43-day pilgrimage. It is to be mentioned that Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha had on Wednesday flagged off the first batch of 4,890 pilgrims from the Jammu base camp.
This time Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) has also arranged for online Darshan. This year, more people are expected to visit the pilgrimage as the Amarnath Yatra has started after a gap of two years as in 2019, the yatra was canceled midway before the provision of Article 370 of the Constitution was abrogated. The Yatra could not be organized in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A large number of security personnel have been deployed along the pilgrimage route. Security has been tightened on Baltal and Pahalgam roads. Drone surveillance and RFID chips are also part of the three-tier security system for the pilgrims. The board has asked the pilgrims to carry Aadhar card or any other biometric attested document with them. Tight security arrangements have been made at the peaks around the holy cave. The Amarnath Yatra will conclude on August 11, Raksha Bandhan day.