Baltal: Despite inclement weather and snow-covered tracks, the Amarnath yatra is going on with full fervour. The Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) has put in place all the arrangements for the commencement of this year`s pilgrimage to the holy cave shrine in south Kashmir Himalayas.
Around 7,000 pilgrims reached the North Kashmir Baltal base camp in the morning. The yatra is not taking place through the traditional route of Pahalgam which has been covered by heavy snowfall.
The first batch of Amarnath pilgrims left for the holy cave Friday from Baltal base camp in Sonamarg, some 110 kilometers from the capital Srinagar.
Thousands of pilgrims who reached Sonamarg yesterday were accommodated in the tents set up by the locals and the shrine board. The yatra started at about 5 am, one hour late then the scheduled time of 4 am, due to poor visibility.
The state government says it has made all arrangements to provide the basic and other facilities to all pilgrims.
Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Minister Ghulam Ahmad Mir flagged off the first batch of Amarnath Yatra devotees on Friday.
Around 950 pilgrims left for Baltal from Jammu. Security has been stepped up on various routes and forces have been deployed to ensure safety of devotees.