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The two-month-long annual Amarnath Yatra to the Himalayan Hindu cave shrine has started with thousands of pilgrims proceeding towards the shrine from north and south Kashmir routes.
The pilgrims --numbering 6335-- reached the two base camps, south Kashmir Nunwan and north Kashmir Baltel on Tuesday night from Jammu.
"The pilgrims left for the cave shrine early Wednesday morning from both the routes," a senior state officer said.
Authorities have made tight security arrangements for the pilgrims, with a three-tier security provided by the army, paramilitary and police.
Buses, taxis and private vehicles carried the pilgrims to the base camps, from where devotees chanting hymns started their trek this morning.
The Jammu-Srinagar highway was briefly closed for traffic this morning, after slides blocked the road near Samroli in the Udhampur district of Jammu region.
Around 70 vehicles carrying 2062 pilgrims remained stranded for several hours on the highway. But, inspector general of police (Traffic) Mohammad Amin Shah said, "The highway has been cleared, and the two way vehicular traffic on the highway restored."
Meanwhile governor Lt. Gen (Retd) S. K. Sinha described as misleading the "propaganda unleashed by some people with vested interest about permanent structures being raised by Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB).
"Despite repeated clarifications that no permanent structure has been raised, an orchestrated campaign continues to vitiate the atmosphere," Sinha, who is also the chairman of SASB said while discussing the yatra arrangements with officers at Sheshnagh, Chandanwari and Pahalgam.
He said that ever since the board took over the charge of managing the yatra, special measures were initiated and improved with every passing year to ensure health and hygiene in camping sites and enroute the cave shrine, keeping in view the environmental requirements.
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