Amarnath yatra begins in the midst of strict security measures; more than 8,000 pilgrims pay reverence in the cave sanctuary on day 1

SRINAGAR: More than 8,000 pilgrims on Monday bowed in the shrine of the Amarnath cave in the southern Kashmir Himalayas when the annual pilgrimage began amid strict security arrangements, officials said.

The governor participated in the 'Pratham Pooja' (first prayer) inside the 3880-meter-high cave sanctuary and prayed for peace in the state, they said.

The yatra started this morning (Monday) from both routes when the first group of pilgrims went to the sacred cave from the respective base camps, a Shri Board spokesperson (SASB) told PTI.

The spokesman said that the officials of the respective district administrations pointed out that the yatra was arrested in the base camps of Pahalgam and Baltal.

He said that on the first day of the yatra, 8,403 pilgrims bowed in the sanctuary of the cave.

The yatra started today from the Baltal and Pahalgam routes. 6,884 yatris departed from Baltal and 3,065 from the Pahalgam routes to the holy cave, the spokesman added.

Strict security arrangements have been made to carry out the annual pilgrimage without problems.

A strong security coverage has been placed for the yatra, which includes tracking of vehicles and pilgrims based on chips and satellites. The deployment of forces is done in several layers to ensure a smooth development of the pilgrimage, officials said.

The governor, who is also the chairman of the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board, paid a reverence in the holy cave and participated in the 'Pratham Pooja' ceremony, said an official spokesman.

He said the governor, who was accompanied by the board's executive director of the sanctuary, Umang Narula, prayed for peace, harmony, progress and prosperity in the state.

The governor reviewed the arrangements made for the pilgrims in the Yatra shrine camp and conveyed the acknowledgments of the sanctuary board to the state government, the army, the state police and all other agencies interested in their support and cooperation, said the spokesman.

He said that Malik stressed the need for effective supervision and constant vigilance on the part of camp directors and all officials involved in yatra management to ensure good behavior.

The governor praised the people of Kashmir for making the annual pilgrimage a successful event since being observed.

Malik, appreciating the valuable support of the local people in leading the yatra, described his role as a true essence of 'Kashmiriyat', which is exemplary for its community harmony, the spokesman said.

The 46-day yatra will conclude on August 15, coinciding with.

Earlier in Jammu, a group of 4,417 pilgrims left a base camp for the Amarnath cave sanctuary in southern Kashmir.

More than 1.5 lakh pilgrims from all over the country have been registered so far for the 46-day pilgrimage, which is performed from the Pahalgam trail of 36 km in the Anantnag district and the 14 km Baltal route in the district of Ganderbal.

The second group, consisting of 4,417 pilgrims, including 3,543 men, 843 women and 31 children, departed in a fleet of 142 vehicles from the base camp of Bhagwati Nagar to Pahalgam and Baltal.

For the Pahalgam route, 2,800 pilgrims left the base camp, while 1,617 pilgrims from Baltal departed in buses and light motor vehicles, which were escorted by the CRPF, authorities said.

The first batch was marked from Jammu on Sunday.

The Jammu CRPF inspector, A V Chauhan, had said on Sunday that all necessary security arrangements had been implemented along the Yatra route, the base camps and the detention stations for the safety of the pilgrims.