STATE TIMES NEWS
JAMMU: No fresh batch of pilgrims left the Bhagwati Nagar base camp here for the cave shrine of Amarnath in the south Kashmir Himalayas on Saturday, officials said amid a decline in the footfall of the devotees.
On August 2, Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha had appealed to the Amarnath pilgrims to visit the cave shrine before August 5 in view of a forecast of inclement weather and more rains.
The 43-day annual pilgrimage to the 3,880-metre-high cave shrine commenced on June 30 on the twin routes — the traditional 48-km Nunwan-Pahalgam route in Anantnag and the 14-km shorter Baltal route in Ganderbal. It is scheduled to end on August 11 on the occasion of “Shravan Purnima” coinciding with “Raksha Bandhan”.
“No fresh batch of Amarnath pilgrims left the Bhagwati Nagar base camp here for the valley on Saturday,” a police official said.
Sources said the number of devotees intending to undertake the yatra witnessed a substantial decline over the last week due to the premature melting of the naturally formed ice-shivling at the cave shrine.
“Over three lakh devotees from across the country have had Baba’s darshan. Because of the rising temperatures, Baba does not have that form and the nature is also not supporting it.
“There has been heavy rainfall in many areas. I would like to request the devotees across the country, who are yet to have darshan, to come before August 5 as more rains are predicted after that,” the LG had said.
Fifteen Amarnath pilgrims were killed and 55 injured in flash floods due to heavy rains near the cave shrine on July 8.
Meanwhile, a fresh batch of 360 pilgrims, including 145 women and 19 children, left the Bhagwati Nagar base camp in a fleet of 12 vehicles for the Buddha Amarnath shrine in Poonch district on Saturday, the officials said.