Over 3.52 lakh pilgrims paid obeisance at the cave shrine of Amarnath in south Kashmir Himalayas this year as the 59-day annual yatra concluded on Saturday coinciding with the festival of ‘Raksha Bandhan’.
‘Chhari Mubarak’, being carried by a group of Sadhus led by its custodian Mahant Dipendra Giri, arrived at the 3,880 metre holy cave in the wee hours after tracking a distance of six kilometers from Sheshnag halting station, marking the conclusion of the yatra, officials said.
Special prayers were held at the cave shrine, which houses the naturally formed ice-shivlingam, after the arrival of the ‘Chhari Mubarak’, the holy mace of Lord Shiva, they said.
The yatra, which began on July 2 from the twin routes of Pahalgam in Anantnag district of south Kashmir and Baltal in Ganderbal district of central Kashmir, remained by and large peaceful, officials said.
Over 3.52 lakh pilgrims performed ‘darshan’ at the cave shrine, they said, adding, majority of the pilgrims preferred shorter 16-km Baltal route over the traditional 45-km Pahalgam track.
Police said 41 persons, including 30 pilgrims and four security personnel, died during this year’s pilgrimage due to various causes with cardiac arrest accounting for most of the deaths. The deceased also included a ponywalla (horse owner) and a labourer, the police said.
After the ‘puja’ and ‘visarjan’ ceremonies at the bank of river Lidder in Pahalgam next week, ‘Chhari Mubarak’ will return to its permanent abode at Dashnami Akhara here.