|Rediff India Abroad Home | All the sections|
Amarnath yatra commences,
first batch leaves Jammu
Mukhtar Ahmad in Srinagar | July 09, 2003 14:25 IST
The first batch of Amarnath bound pilgrims on Wednesday morning left Jammu for Pahalgham amidst the tightest possible security.
The 3,500 yatris (pilgrims) left in 177 vehicles, Deputy Inspector General of Police (Jammu range) Farooq Ahmad told rediff.com.
Crossing the Jawahar Tunnel before 1500 IST for security reasons, they are expected to reach the Nunwan base camp in the evening.
After a night halt, they will continue on foot for three days via Pahalgam with night halts at Sheshnag and Panjtarni before reaching the cave shrine on Saturday.
In comparison to this three day trek, another route leading to the shrine via Baltel on the foothills of the Zojila Pass in north Kashmir would require only a day for the to and fro journey. However, the route is considered steep and difficult.
The pilgrimage lasts for a month. This year, about 107,000 persons have registered for the annual pilgrimage to the cave situated in the Himalayas at a height of 12729ft.
The 13 years of militancy have made the pilgrimage a security hazard.
The sheer numbers of pilgrims makes it difficult for security forces to ensure protection of every single pilgrim.
Thousands of army, paramilitary and state police troops have taken positions along the route. Dog squads and bomb detection and disposal squads have also been pressed into service.
More reports from Jammu and Kashmir
Read about: The Road to Peace | Kargil Crisis