Jammu: Helicopter fares from base camps to the Amarnath cave shrine in Jammu and Kashmir have been slashed by at least 35 percent this year, said an official of the shrine board.
Navin Choudhary, CEO of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB), said: "At a time when air fares are going up all over the world, there is some extremely good news for the devotees.
"The helicopter fares have been reduced by over 40 percent on the Baltal-Panjtarni route and by over 35 percent on the Pahalgam-Panjtarni route."
The cave shrine is situated at 3,888 meters above sea level and has two trek routes leading to it, one from Pahalgam, about 100 km away, and from Baltal, 110 km from Srinagar, the summer capital.
The pilgrims can travel up to the cave shrine from two base camps on foot, ponies, palanquins or by helicopter.
Choudhary, who is also principal secretary to the Governor, said one way helicopter fare from Baltal-Panjtarni has been reduced from Rs.2,425 per passenger in 2011 to Rs.1,445 per passenger.
Similarly, the helicopter fare for the Pahalgam-Panjtarni route has been reduced from Rs.3,495 in 2011 to Rs.2,355 per passenger.
Choudhary said: "This reduction will facilitate a large number of pilgrims."
More than 630,000 pilgrims visited the shrine last year, breaking all previous records. The pilgrimage this year is to be held from June 25 to Aug 2.
It is said that Lord Shiva narrated the tale of immortality to his consort Parvati at the cave, and so it is known as "Amarnath".