A fresh batch of 4,195 pilgrims left Jammu for the Amarnath shrine in Kashmir on Monday as officials confirmed that over 1,87,300 pilgrims have so far performed the Yatra in 2018.
The police said Monday’s batch left Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas in two groups. The first group comprised 2,455 pilgrims while the second had 1,740 pilgrims. Both groups were escorted by security forces.
“The first group is headed for Baltal while the second is going to Pahalgam base camp,” said the police.
Baltal in Ganderbal district and Pahalgam in Anantnag district are the two routes taken by pilgrims to reach the Amarnath cave dedicated to Lord Shiva.
On Sunday, a batch of 2,922 pilgrims had left for the sacred Hindu site located high in the Himalayas.
But the journey is not without its risks. In the past 17 days, 22 people died because of landslides and health reasons while trekking to the cave shrine.
Governor NN Vohra, Chairman of the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB), had on Thursday announced ex gratia Rs 3 lakh each to the next of kin of 5 pilgrims who died due to shooting stones on Baltal-Holy Cave route and three cases of deaths in road accidents.
The CEO said that between 28 June and 11 July, 20 pilgrims had died en route the holy cave. In addition, two service providers also died, thereby raising the death toll to 22. Out of 22 persons, 14 persons died due to medical reasons and 8 in accidents at different locations.
Read More: 22 Amarnath pilgrims died in past two weeks
On the other hand, the Muslim community living along the pilgrimage route in their centuries-old tradition continue to support the pilgrim by acting as helpers, ‘ponywallahs’ or even setting up roadside tea-stalls.
The 60-day long Yatra will end on 26 August coinciding with the Shravan Purnima festival.