Srinagar: The annual Amarnath pilgrimage to
the 3,880 metres-high shrine in South Kashmir Himalayas
concluded on Tuesday with over 4.56 lakh devotees paying obeisance
at the cave shrine of Lord Shiva during the past two months
without any major untoward incidents.
Serene religious fervour filled the ambiance as the Holy
mace of Lord Shiva arrived at the 300-cubic metre cave on the
Shravan Purnima day as part of the traditional `Charri
Over 4.56 lakh pilgrims, an increase of over 23 per cent
than last year, visited the shrine despite ongoing spree of
violence in the Valley. A record 5.33 lakh pilgrims had
visited the shrine in 2008.
There were 87 deaths among the pilgrims of which 17 died
due to accidents and 60 resulting from cardiac arrest. Last
year, 62 pilgrims have died because of natural reasons.
With the end of the yatra, around 48 companies of CRPF on
Amarnath Yatra security duty deployed for this period, will
return to their camps to help in maintaining law and order in
the Valley, which has been witnessing violence since June 11
following the death of a teenager.
Governor N N Vohra, also the Chairman of Shri Amarnathji
Shrine Board, was scheduled to visit the Holy Cave this
morning but could not do so due to heavy rains and inclement
weather conditions, official sources said.
The Governor expressed satisfaction over the smooth
conduct of this year`s Yatra. He complimented the state
government, army, CRPF, BSF, BSNL and other concerned
organisations, for making the Yatra "a satisfying and
memorable experience for thousands of pilgrims" from across
the country over the past 55 days.
The route of the pilgrimage, which started on July 1,
passed through some of the areas worst affected by violence
like parts of Srinagar, Sangam and Bijbedhra on the
Governor Vohra monitored the Yatra on a daily basis and
personally reviewed arrangements for the pilgrimage by
visiting the camps along the route.
He issued strict instructions for launching a time-bound
post-Yatra cleanliness drive at the camps and the holy cave
R K Goyal, CEO of the Shrine Board, said this year all
the registered pilgrims were provided free of cost Accident
Insurance Cover of Rs one lakh.
He said helicopter services were made available on both
Baltal-Panjtarni and Pahalgam-Panjtarni routes on
substantially lower rates as compared to last year.
Mobile phone connectivity for real time communication
became available for the first time, he added.