The last batch of 89 pilgrims today left for the cave shrine of Amarnath from here to join the annual yatra which entered its last phase, officials said. The shrine is located at an altitude of 3,880-metre in south Kashmir Himalayas.
“All the 89 pilgrims present at the Bhagwati camp left in four vehicles amid tight security arrangements around 2.45 am. They crossed the Jawahar Tunnel — the gateway to Kashmir — along the Srinagar-Jammu national highway around forenoon,” the officials said. The final batch included 15 women and 37 seers, they said.
While 56 of them have preferred the traditional 42-km Pahalgam route in Anantnag district, 33 others will join the yatra through the shorter 16-km Baltal route in Ganderbal district, they said. The yatra entered its final phase after ‘Chhari Mubarak’ (the holy mace of Lord Shiva), being carried by a group of seers, including its custodian Mahant Deepindra Giri, joined the yatra at Pahalgam on Thursday.
After special prayers and other rituals, the saffron-robed holy mace was taken to Chandanwari yesterday and will reach the holy cave for final prayers on August 7 after night halts en route to Sheshnag and Panjtarni, marking the conclusion of the 40-day yatra on the occasion of ‘Raksha Bandhan’.
The yatra which began on June 29 from the twin routes recorded a footfall of 2,58,414 pilgrims who paid their obeisance at the naturally formed ice-shivlingam till last evening.