Jammu: The annual Amarnath yatra began on Sunday as the first batch of pilgrims left for the cave shrine in South Kashmir Himalayas from the base-camp amid tight security.
The first batch consisting of 2,294 pilgrims was flagged off from Bagwati Nagar base-camp in Jammu around 0430 hours by the Minister for Tourism Nawang Rigzin Jora and Political Advisor to Chief Minister Devinder Rana.
First batch of pilgrims included 1,469 males, 476 females, 108 children and 241 sadhus, who left in 69 vehicles including 51 buses and 18 Light motor vehicles (LMVs) amid a tight mobile security escort of CRPF.
Singing religious slogans, hymns and prayers, the pilgrims with holy bandannas tied to their fore-heads left for the Valley amid joy and happiness for their journey to Amarnath.
"The yatra has begun this year. We pray for a peaceful yatra for all the pilgrims. A batch of pilgrims have been flagged off here marking the beginning of Amarnath yatra", Jora told reporters at base-camp.
A total of 3.5 lakh pilgrims have already been registered for the yatra which will conclude on August 2 on Raksha Bandhan.
Geared up to ensure an incident-free and peaceful pilgrimage, CRPF has activated its security set-up and deployed 57 companies for security of the Yatra.
"As many as 57 security companies have been deployed for the yatra in Jammu and Kashmir," a senior CRPF officer told PTI.
He said, of these, 12 companies have been put on job for security of Amarnath yatra in Jammu region, while 45 companies have been deployed in the Valley for the yatra.