The 43-day pilgrimage to the cave shrine of Lord Shiva in the Himalayas will start from Pahalgam and Baltal base camps in Kashmir on Thursday and conclude on August 11
After a gap of two years, the annual Amarnath Yatra is set to resume in the Kashmir Valley from June 30. The first batch of pilgrims departed from the Bhagwati Nagar base camp in Jammu city towards the two base camps at Pahalgam and Baltal in Kashmir on Wednesday morning amid tight security. The pilgrimage was flagged off by the Jammu Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha.
The 43-day pilgrimage to the cave shrine of Lord Shiva in the Himalayas will start from Pahalgam and Baltal base camps in Kashmir on Thursday and conclude on August 11.
The Amarnath Yatra was cancelled by the Jammu and Kashmir government in 2020 and 2021 after holding talks with Amarnathji Shrine Board members due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, more than 3.42 lakh pilgrims visited the shrine between July 1 and August 1, before the pilgrimage was suspended midway prior to Article 370 being abrogated and Jammu and Kashmir was bifurcated into two Union territories.
This year, over three lakh pilgrims have registered for the Amarnath Yatra so far, news agency PTI reported quoting officials.
Pilgrims reach the 3,880-metre-high cave shrine of Lord Shiva through the twin routes of Pahalgam and Baltal. The Pahalgam base camp in south Kashmir follows the traditional 48-km Nunwan route, while the Baltal route in central Kashmir's Ganderbal is 14 km long.
For the convenience of the pilgrims, the Ramban district administration officials in Jammu and Kashmir have made multi-tier arrangements around the base camps and routes.
According to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board, DRDO hostels have been prepared for the devotees at the base camps.
“Langar, medical, communication, and sanitation facilities for the pilgrims have been done here," Mint quoted Nitishwar Kumar, CEO of Shri Amarnath Shrine Board, as saying.
Ramban additional district commissioner Harbans Lal said 1,005 toilets and additional mobile toilets have been set up for the devotees along the NH-44 and in the shelter sheds. CCTV cameras will monitor the routes for security of the pilgrims.
Vijay Kumar, Inspector-General of Police, Kashmir, visited the holy cave and the pilgrim’s camp in Panjtarni on Tuesday. He also held security meetings with officers from the army, BSF, CRPF, JKP, ITBP, NDRF and the civil administration.
This year, the government is providing pilgrims with a Radio Frequency Identification to track their movement and well-being, PTI reported.
The Shri Amarnath Shrine Board has issued a fresh advisory for the pilgrims asking them to travel with their Aadhaar Card or any biometric verified government identity card.
Apart from this, the board has asked all pilgrims to carry medical certificate issued by a doctor or hospital in their state. Children below age 13 and senior citizens above 70 years are not allowed to embark on the journey. Pregnant women with over 6 weeks of pregnancy are also not allowed to travel to the holy cave.
Meanwhile, the Centre has asked officials to ensure only asymptomatic individuals and those who are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 to undertake the pilgrimage.
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The health ministry has also asked the officials in various states where upcoming religious activities such as Rath Yatra and Amarnath Yatra will be organised to ensure that special vaccination camps are organised at transit points. The ministry has asked officials to ensure health workers, frontline workers and volunteers attending such camps have received the two-dose vaccination against COVID-19.
According to the board, pilgrims may develop high altitude sickness on their journey as the Amarnath Yatra involves trekking at altitudes as high as 14,000 feet. Symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, fatigue, weakness, loss of appetite, dizziness, lightheadedness and difficulty in sleeping and bladder dysfunction.
Divisional control room
A divisional control room has been set up in the office of Divisional Commissioner, Jammu, for the convenience of the devotees, Hindustan Times reported.
For inquiry or help, people can contact the control room on the landline phone number 0191-2478993.
Apart from this, Amarnath pilgrims can also contact the following people who will be in charge of the Divisional Control Room.
Ashish Singh Manhas – 7006457521
Ajay Sharma – 7006114365
Rohit Khajuria – 7780974761
Ashish Raina – 9797410374
Ashwani Kumar – 7006673804
Shubam Sharma – 7889368004
Rahul Mehta – 9622290544
Abhinav Khajuria – 7006518034
Varun Slathia – 7006181898
Davinder Kumar – 9086132714
(Edited by : Sudarsanan Mani)
First Published: IST