Amarnath Yatra to begin June 28 only via Baltal route

The Amarnath Yatra in Jammu and Kashmir this year will begin only through the Baltal base camp route June 28.

IANS| Last Updated: Jun 25, 2014, 23:48 PM IST

Srinagar: The Amarnath Yatra in Jammu and Kashmir this year will begin only through the Baltal base camp route June 28 while a decision on allowing the Yatra through the traditional Pahalgam route would be taken later, the shrine board announced Wednesday.

"After detailed discussions, the meeting chaired by the governor decided that keeping in view the considerable snow accumulation in the entire area of the Sheshnag Yatra camp, and also keeping in view the present status of the track from Sheshnag camp, Mahagunus Pass and the Panjtarni camp, the Yatra via the Pahalgam-Sheshnag route would not commence on June 28," said a statement issued by the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) which is headed by Jammu and Kashmir Governor N.N. Vohra.

"The governor directed that the pace of the ongoing clearing of snows and repair and renovation work should be further enhanced and he would review the progress every day.
"The meeting further decided that the pilgrims who are registered to undertake the Yatra from the Pahalgam route on June 28, 29 and 30 would, if they so wished, be enabled to travel to the shrine by the Baltal route, which would open on June 28 as scheduled," it said.

The statement said it was decided that a further meeting would be held on June 30 afternoon to review whether the Pahalgam route could be opened on July 1 morning.

It also noted that this winter the Himalayan mountain ranges in the entire Yatra area witnessed very heavy snowfall. The very large accumulation of snow in the Yatra area, and the slow rate of snow-melt, has caused serious concern to the SASB whose officers have been undertaking regular assessments of the ground situation.

Vohra Wednesday undertook a day-long tour to visit the shrine, the Panjtarni Yatra camp, the Sheshnag Yatra camp via 14,500 feet high Mahagunus Pass and the Pahalgam Yatra Camp.
"It was observed that the snow track along Panjtarni-Mahagunus Top-Sheshnag is still under significant snow cover. After the governor`s inspection of the area of the Sheshnag Yatra Camp, along with CEO and senior officers of the army, BSF, CRPF and others, it was observed that, on an average, the entire camp site was still covered by one-and-half to two feet of snow," the statement said.

This year`s Yatra starts on June 28 and ends on Aug 10. Around two lakh pilgrims have registered with the SASB for this year`s Yatra to the Himalayan cave shrine that houses an ice stalagmite structure believed by the devotees to symbolize Lord Shiva.