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J&K government offers special package to woo Amarnath pilgrims

Mukhtar Ahmed in Srinagar | June 17, 2003 18:43 IST

The Jammu and Kashmir government has for the first time offered a special tourist package to the Amarnath pilgrims, to facilitate their extended stay in the valley at concessional rates.

The month long annual historic yatra in the Himalayas begins July 12 this year and arrangements for the pilgrimage were finalised at a high level meeting in Pahalgam.

It was decided in the meeting that 3,500 pilgrims would be allowed to proceed for the pilgrimage each day. While 2,700 pilgrims will be allowed to proceed to the Holy Cave shrine from Pahalgam, 800 pilgrims will be allowed via the Baltel track.

No pilgrim will be allowed to join the yatra without registration and they have been advised to get themselves registered ith the notified branches of Jammu and Kashmir Bank for their convenience.

The government has asked the bank to open temporary counters at Dehra Dun to facilitate registration of pilgrims from Uttranchal, while Nepali pilgrims are to be registered at the Patna branch.

"It offers eight days and seven nights stay in valley including pilgrimage days. The pilgrims have to pay Rs 3,900 per head for journey in the coach and Rs 4,800 per head in a sumo," said a state official.

He said, "The tour package starts and culminates at Jammu railway station. It envisages visit to Pahalgam in one day and to the Cave Shrine in next three days. On the fourth day, the pilgrims would be brought to Srinagar via Baltal route and they would be taken around to places of tourist interest in Srinagar.

Next day they will have a night long stay in Gulmarg and on eight day leave for Jammu."

The pilgrims would get preferential registration under the package, which includes transportation, room accommodation on twin sharing basis at Srinagar and at Gulmarg they would be provided tented accommodation with vegetarian meals.

For the first time the insurance cover for the pilgrims on the pattern of Vaishno Devi is also being introduced through Jammu and Kashmir bank for Rs 100,000 on the payment of premium of Rs 20 at the time of registration.

Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Sayeed, senior army, police and paramilitary forces attended the meeting.

The meeting was informed that work is continuing to improve and upgrade the track and for creation of shelter sheds at regular places.

The families of security forces and police would be permitted for the pilgrimage from July 5 to July 11, so that such pilgrims do not burden the already fixed number of pilgrims during the yatra.

An awareness campaign has been launched across the county to educate the pilgrims about the hostile conditions and rough terrain of the yatra.

Governor S K Sinha said that the pilgrimage has become a national pride, which not only attracts the national but even the international attention.

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