The seventh batch of 2,246 pilgrims today left Jammu for the 3,888-metre-high Amarnath cave shrine of Lord Shiva in south Kashmir Himalayas, amid tight security. Escorted by CRPF personnel, the pilgrims, including 97 sadhus, left in a convoy of 75 vehicles for Baltal and Pahalgam base-camps of the shrine this morning, officials said.
With today's batch, 25,294 pilgrims and sages have left Jammu for Amarnath since the yatra began from here on June 28. As many as 1,05,380 pilgrims have paid obeisance at the ice lingam at the cave till now. Three more pilgrims died of various reasons yesterday, taking the death toll in the ongoing Amarnath pilgrimage to nine.
The annual pilgrimage in Kashmir began amid a terror threat, which prompted the authorities to mobilise the "highest level" of security measures, including satellite tracking system. The government has mobilised a heavy security blanket of over 35,000 to 40,000 troops including the police, the Army, the BSF and the CRPF.
This year's yatra will be eight days shorter than the last year's 48 days. It will conclude on Shravan Purnima (Raksha Bandhan) on August 7.
Situated in a narrow gorge at the farther end of Lidder Valley, Amarnath shrine is 46 km from Pahalgam and 14 km from Baltal.