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Amarnath Yatra ends
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August 16, 2008 12:00 IST

The Holy mace of Lord Shiva [Images] reached the 3,880 metre-high holy cave shrine of Amarnath on Saturday morning coinciding with the Hindu festival of Rakhsha Bandan, marking the end of the two-month annual pilgrimage, official sources said.

After a night halt at Panjtarni, the third and final halting station en route to the cave, the holy mace popularly known as "Charri Mubarak" carried by its custodian Mahant Deependri Giri arrived at the cave shrine at around 9 am, the sources said.

Accompanied by over 250 sadhus, the "Charri Mubarak" was offered puja at the 300-cubic metre cave shrine, they said.

A record number of nearly 5.50 lakh pilgrims offered prayers at the holy cave this year - the highest so far. Earlier in 2004, over four lakh pilgrims offered prayers at the cave shrine.

A total of 68 persons died, mostly of natural causes, during the pilgrimage this year. The deceased included a BSF jawan and a policeman who were part of deployment along the yatra route, a porter and a shopkeeper.

The heavy rush of pilgrims this year prompted the authorities to start the yatra on June 17, a day ahead of its schedule and a record number of three lakh pilgrims visited the cave in the first couple of days.

However, the controversy generated by land row led to the number of pilgrims declining in the last week of July.


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