Srinagar: Around 500,000 pilgrims have so far performed this year`s Amarnath Yatra that began June 25, an official said Monday. Eighty-six pilgrims have died during this period.
"With 17,174 pilgrims having `Darshan` at the holy Amarnath cave yesterday, the total number of pilgrims who performed the Yatra so far has gone up to 482,598. The Yatra started here June 25 and 86 pilgrims died due to natural causes till today," said a senior official of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) which manages the affairs of the Hindu pilgrimage.
Officially, only 350,000 pilgrims had registered for this year`s Yatra from different places of the country.
The pilgrims use both the north Kashmir Baltal and the south Kashmir Pahalgam route to reach the Himalayan Cave shrine at 13,000 feet which houses an ice stalagmite structure believed by devotees to symbolize the mythological powers of Lord Shiva.
While the uphill trek from the Baltal base camp to the cave is 14 km long making it possible for the pilgrims to return back to the base camp after the `Darshan` the same day, the Pahalgam trek is 37 km long passing through Chandanwari, Sheshnag and Panchtarni halts.
Pilgrims take four days to cover the one-way distance from Pahalgam base camp to the cave shrine.
It must be mentioned that the Supreme Court has issued notices to the Union Home Ministry, Union Health Ministry, Jammu and Kashmir government and the SASB regarding the deaths of pilgrims during this year`s Yatra.
The apex court has taken suo moto cognizance of media reports regarding the deaths of pilgrims.
Last year, 107 pilgrims had died during the Yatra.
This year`s Yatra will end Aug 2, coinciding with the Hindu festival of Shravan Purnima.