SRINAGAR: The annual Amarnath Yatra began on Saturday with the first batch of pilgrims setting out from the base camp here for the cave shrine in the south Kashmir Himalayas.
The 62-day pilgrimage was flagged off by Deputy Commissioner, Ganderbal, Shyambir, along with senior officials of the Shri Amarnath Ji Shrine Board and the police, at the Baltal base camp.
Baltal, in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal district, is one of the twin routes for the annual pilgrimage. The other one is the Pahalgam route in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district.
The pilgrims will undertake a 12-km journey from the base camp to the holy cave shrine located at an altitude of about 13,000 feet.
All arrangements for the annual pilgrimage, including those related to security, have been put in place.
Deputy Commissioner Shyambir said about 6,000 yatris arrived at the base camp. “I wish the yatra goes on smoothly. I request the yatris to carry their RFID cards,” he told reporters here.
Shyambir also said that volunteers and mountain rescue teams were posted along the track. The yatris can seek their help if needed, he added.
The official also asserted that the yatra would not be possible without the support of the local people.
Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha on Friday flagged off the first batch of 3,488 pilgrims from the Jammu base camp.
Over three lakh pilgrims have so far registered themselves for the yatra.
Security personnel have been deployed for the pilgrimage. Security along the Baltal and Pahalgam routes has been beefed up. New security pickets have been set up, officials said.
The pilgrimage will culminate on August 31.