Amarnath Yatra: Over 50,000 pilgrims visit holy cave shrine so far; 5 dead

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Another batch of 8,700 pilgrims leave from Jammu

STATE TIMES NEWS

SRINAGAR: Five pilgrims have died since the commencement of the Amarnath Yatra this year, even as over 50,000 devotees have so far visited the holy cave shrine in south Kashmir Himalayas, officials said on Sunday.
A pilgrim by the name Virinder Gupta is missing from the yatra’s Chandanwari-Sheshnag route, they said.
Of the five deceased, three passed away due to cardiac arrests: Jai Prakash from Delhi died at Chandanwari, Devender Tayal (53) from Bareily collapsed at Lower Cave and Lipo Sharma (40) from Bihar died at Qazigund camp, the officials said.
Jagannath (61) from Maharashtra lost his life due to some health condition at Pisutop while another person Ashu Singh (46) from Rajasthan died after he fell down from a horse at MG top, they mentioned.
Till 10 am on Sunday, 40,233 pilgrims visited the holy cave shrine and had ‘darshan’ of the naturally formed ice-shivlingam.
The yatra, which began on June 30 and will culminate on August 11, passes through two routes – the Pahalgam route in south Kashmir’s Anantnag district and the Baltal route in Sonamarg tourist resort in Ganderbal district in central Kashmir.
Meanwhile, the fifth batch of over 8,700 Amarnath pilgrims this morning left a base camp here for the shrine in south Kashmir Himalayas, officials said.
The pilgrims left the Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas here in a convoy of 326 vehicles, the officials said.
They said 2,618 pilgrims heading for Baltal were the first to leave the Bhagwati Nagar camp in 121 vehicles around 3.30 am followed by the second convoy of 205 vehicles carrying 6,155 pilgrims for Pahalgam.
The annual 43-day yatra commenced from the twin base camps — traditional 48-km Nunwan-Pahalgam in south Kashmir’s Anantnag and 14-km shorter Baltal in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal — on June 30.
So far till 9 am, over 39,000 pilgrims had offered their prayers at the cave shrine, housing the naturally formed ice-shivlingam, the officials said.
Among the 6,155 pilgrims who left for Pahalgam, 1,924 are women, 12 children, and two transgenders, while the group heading for Baltal included 709 women, the officials said.
With this, a total of 31,987 pilgrims have left from the Bhagwati Nagar base camp for the Valley since June 29, the day the first batch of pilgrims was flagged off by Lt Governor Manoj Sinha.
The yatra is scheduled to end on August 11 on the occasion of Raksha Bandhan.