Nearly 1,300 pilgrims pay obeisance; pilgrimage suspended due to inclement weather

Srinagar/Jammu, June 29: Nearly 1,300 pilgrims paid obeisance at the holy cave shrine of Amarnath in south Kashmir Himalayas today, an official said.
However, the pilgrimage had to be suspended from both Pahalgam and Baltal routes due to incessant rainfall in the valley. The yatra was suspended due to heavy rainfall along the entire route to the cave shrine, an official of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) said.
He said 1,263 pilgrims had set off from the Nunwan base camp in the morning but were asked to halt at Sheshnag till the weather improved.
“At the end of the second day of the Yatra, 1,287 pilgrims paid obeisance at holy cave,” he added.
The total number of pilgrims who have performed darshan of the naturally formed ice-lingam has now gone up to 2,294. Yesterday, 1007 pilgrims had paid obeisance at the cave shrine.
Earlier in the day, the yatra was suspended from Baltal route due to multiple slides en- route caused by heavy rainfall in the valley over the past two days.
A police official said the Kali Mata track was damaged due to slides at multiple places, which forced suspension of the yatra from Baltal route.
The restoration work is going on but a slight drizzle is hampering the efforts, the official said.
The annual yatra to the 3,880 metre high cave shrine in south Kashmir Himalayas began yesterday and will conclude on August 26 to coincide with Raksha Bandhan.
braving heavy rains which briefly halted traffic on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, the third batch of 2,876 pilgrims today left here for the base camps in Kashmir Valley to pay obeisance at the shrine of Amarnath, officials said.
The pilgrims left the Bhagwati Nagar base camp in a fleet of 90 vehicles under tight security at around 0630 hours, braving rains which lashed wide parts of Jammu and Kashmir for the third day today, the officials said.
Heavy rains in Banihal-Udhampur sector had triggered landslides and shooting of stones at four places at Panthal, Nedgard, Digdol and Samroli this morning, blocking the 260-km highway – the only all-weather road connecting Kashmir with rest of the country, the officials said.
However, they said the agencies concerned pressed men and machines into service and after hectic efforts cleared the blockade in the shortest possible time at around 0915 hours, allowing stranded vehicles to move towards their destinations.
The blocking of the highway resulted in traffic jam at several places and efforts are on to ensure smooth flow of vehicles, the officials said.
The 60-day annual pilgrimage started from the twin routes of Pahalgam in Anantnag district and Baltal in Ganderbal district yesterday with the first batch of over 1000 people offering prayers at the cave shrine housing the naturally formed ice-lingam.
The officials said the pilgrims were allowed only after getting the road clearance and are expected to reach the base camps of Nunwan-Pahalgam in Anantnag district and Baltal in Ganderbal district later in the day.
However, no ‘sadhu’ and children are among the pilgrims who left in the third batch today, they said adding while 2032 pilgrims including 315 women opted for the traditional 36-km Pahalgam route, 844 pilgrims including 229 women chose to perform the yatra from the 12-km shortest Baltal route.
With the departure of the third batch, a total of 9305 pilgrims had left the base camp here for the pilgrimage since June 27.
Over two lakh pilgrims have so far registered for the yatra which is scheduled to conclude on August 26 coinciding with the festival of ‘Raksha Bandhan’.