Jammu: Amid tight security, a total of 2,481 pilgrims left here to undertake the annual Amarnath Yatra that begins on Thursday. Jammu and Kashmir Governor N.N. Vohra will attend the official launch of the Yatra.
The pilgrims left the Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas in 66 vehicles. An official said while 1,616 pilgrims were bound for the Pahalgam route, 865 were bound for the Baltal route.
The Yatra would begin officially with the arrival of the 'Chahri Mubarak' (Lord Shiva's mace) and traditional prayers inside the cave shrine.
Vohra, who is the chairman of the Amarnath Shrine Board was scheduled to attend the traditional puja at the cave on Thursday. The shrine board manages the affairs of the Yatra.
An unprecedented security arrangement has been put in place for this year's Yatra based on the threat perception.
Satellite tracking system, drones, mobile bunker vehicles, road opening parties (ROPs) along the entire route from Jammu to Pahalgam and Baltal are some of the security measures put in place.
The Centre has provided an additional 40,000 paramilitary forces to assist the state government for peaceful conduct of the Yatra.
The Army, Central Reserve Police Force, Sashastra Seema Bal and the state police are providing multi-layered security to the pilgrims. Heavily fortified security force camps have been established both at Baltal and Pahalgam base camps.
It takes a pilgrim just one day to return back to the Baltal base camp after the 'darshan'. However, it takes four days for the one-way passage from Pahalgam to the cave shrine.
The distance from Baltal to the cave is 14 km while that from Pahalgam to the shrine is 46 km.
The cave houses an ice stalagmite structure believed to symbolize the mythical powers of Lord Shiva. The structure waxes and wanes with the size of the visible moon.
The 40-day long Yatra to the Himalayan cave shrine in south Kashmir's Anantnag district would end on August 7 on Shravan Purnima coinciding with the Raksha Bandhan festival.