Batch of 678 pilgrims leaves for Amarnath from Jammu

Jammu, Jul 25: Six hundred and seventy eighty pilgrims today left Jammu for the Amarnath cave shrine in south Kashmir Himalayas.
According to officials, this was the smallest batch of pilgrims to leave for the 3,888-metre-high shrine of Lord Shiva from Jammu, so far, this year.
Escorted by the CRPF and police, the batch comprising 454 males, 125 females plus 99 sadhus and sadhvis left in a convoy of 24 vehicles for Baltal and Pahalgam base-camps this morning, officials said.
With this, a total of 66,834 pilgrims have left Jammu for Amarnath in 26 batches since the yatra began from Jammu on June 28.
The number of pilgrims visiting Amarnath this year has crossed last year’s figures and 2,44,263 yatris had ‘darshan’ at the Holy cave shrine till last evening, a senior official said.
As per official figures, 2,20,490 devotees offered prayers to the naturally formed ice-Shivlingam during the yatra in 2016.
However, the number of pilgrims this year is still less than 3,52,771 yatris who visited the cave shrine in 2015. The government has mobilised a heavy security blanket of over 35,000 to 40,000 troops including the police, the Army, the BSF and the CRPF, for the yatra.
On July 10, a bus carrying pilgrims in the Anantnag district was attacked by terrorists. Eight devotees died and 32 were injured in the attack.
This year, the yatra will conclude on Shravan Purnima (Raksha Bandhan) on August 7.
Situated in a narrow gorge at the farther end of the Lidder valley, the Amarnath shrine is 46 km from Pahalgam and 14 km from Baltal.