Amid tight security, a total of 2,481 pilgrims left Jammu to undertake the annual Amarnath Yatra that began on Thursday. Jammu and Kashmir governor NN Vohra is scheduled to attend the official launch of the yatra.
The pilgrims left the Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas in 66 vehicles. An official said while 1,616 pilgrims were bound for the Pahalgam route, 865 were bound for the Baltal route.
The journey would officially begin with the arrival of the ‘Chahri Mubarak’ (Lord Shiva’s mace) and traditional prayers inside the cave.
Vohra, who is the chairman of the Amarnath Shrine Board, is scheduled to attend the traditional puja at the cave. The shrine board manages the affairs of the festival.
Unprecedented security arrangements have been put in place for this year’s yatra.
Satellite tracking system, drones, mobile bunker vehicles and road opening parties (ROPs) along the route from Jammu to Pahalgam and Baltal are some of the security measures put in place.
New Delhi has provided an additional 40,000 paramilitary forces to assist the state government for peaceful conduct of the yatra.
The army, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) and the state police are providing multi-layered security to the pilgrims. Heavily fortified security force camps have been established both at Baltal and Pahalgam base camps.
The 40-day long yatra to the Himalayan cave in south Kashmir’s Islamabad district would end on August 7, coinciding with the Raksha Bandhan festival.