Jammu: The annual Amarnath yatra began
on Tuesday amid tight security as the first batch of 2,096 devotees
left Jammu base camp for pilgrimage to the 13,500 meter-high
cave shrine in South Kashmir Himalayas.
With CRPF keeping strict vigil, a cavalcade of 73
vehicles carrying the pilgrims was flagged off by Minister
for Tourism and Culture Nawang Rigzin Jora from Amarnath
Basecamp at Bagwatinagar Yatri Niwas here around 5:00 am.
The devotees offered prayers and chanted Lord Shiva
slogans like "Bum Bum Bolay, Chalo Amarnath, Chalo Eik Saath"
at the event.
1,369 males, 421 females, 110 children and 196 Sadhus
left in 49 buses and 24 Light Motor Vehicles (LMVs) for
Pahalgam and Baltal base camps in Kashmir valley and their
onward journey to the shrine.
"The yatra has begun. The first batch
has been flagged off for the cave shrine. All arrangements
have been put in place for the smooth conduct of the yatra,"
Jora told reporters.
There is no threat to the yatra and it is going on
smoothly, he said after flagging off the event attended by
Divisional Commissioner, Jammu, Pawan Kotwal and IGP Jammu
Adequate security arrangements have been made in Jammu
and along the route to the Amarnath cave shrine for the safety
and security of the pilgrims, Singh said.
With paramilitary forces deployed along the highway,
the yatra has crossed Udhampur.
The pilgrims are scheduled to have a darshan of the
holy ice `ligum` of Lord Shiva at Amarnath cave tomorrow.
As many as 2.30 lakh pilgrims have been registered
for the pilgrimage at various centers and online counters
across the country.
As part of stringent security measures, Road Opening
Parties (ROPS), Quick Reaction Teams (QRTS) and Mobile Rescue
Teams (MRTS) have been positioned at several places to deal
with any exigencies.
The Jammu and Kashmir Police have also launched a
reception-cum-yatri assistance center in Jammu to facilitate
smooth and easy boarding and lodging of the pilgrims.
"We have launched reception-cum-yatri assistance
center to facilitate smooth and easy boarding and lodging for
the pilgrims, besides knowledge of roads and routes," Deputy
Inspector General (DIG) of Police, Jammu-Samba-Kathua range,
Farooq Khan said.
This center would take care of the devotees lodging at
base camp yatri niwas, he said, adding that it would also
distribute booklets, pamphlets, maps and other material to the
The Amarnath yatra is expected to conclude on August
13, on the auspicious occasion of Raksha Bandhan.