4,800 pilgrims leave for Amarnath cave shrine from Jammu

Jammu, Jul 19 : The 20th batch of over 4,800 Amarnath pilgrims left the base camp here for the twin base camps of the 3,880-metre-high cave shrine of Amarnath in south Kashmir Himalayas on Tuesday, officials said.

A total of 4,898 pilgrims left Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas here in a convoy of 159 vehicles amid heavy security of the Central Reserve Police Force, the officials said.

They said 1,836 pilgrims heading for Baltal were the first to leave the Bhagwati Nagar camp in 62 vehicles followed by the second convoy of 97 vehicles carrying 3,062 pilgrims for Pahalgam.

With this, 1,15,656 pilgrims have left from the Bhagwati Nagar camp for the Valley since June 29, the day the first batch of pilgrims was flagged off by Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha.

The annual 43-day yatra commenced from the twin base camps -- the traditional 48-km Nunwan-Pahalgam in south Kashmir's Anantnag and 14-km shorter Baltal in central Kashmir's Ganderbal -- on June 30.

So far this year, over 1.99 lakh pilgrims have offered prayers at the cave shrine, housing the naturally formed ice-shivlingam, the officials said.

The yatra is scheduled to end on August 11 on the occasion of Raksha Bandhan.

Thirty two people, mostly pilgrims, have died during the ongoing yatra. Another 15 pilgrims died in the flashfloods near the Amarnath cave shrine on July 1.Agencies