Amarnath pilgrimage suspended due to bad weather

June 20th, 2008 - 1:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Srinagar/Jammu, June 20 (IANS) Three days after it began, the annual Amarnath pilgrimage in Jammu and Kashmir was suspended Friday following heavy rain along the Jammu-Srinagar highway and slippery conditions on the two tracks from Baltal and Pahalgam that lead to the cave shrine, a police official said. The temporary suspension of the Amarnath yatra (pilgrimage) has left thousands of pilgrims stranded at various places.

The buses carrying the pilgrims were stopped at various places on the Srinagar-Baltal road because of heavy rush at the north Kashmir base camp.

“Yatra on the south Kashmir Pahalgam route has been suspended because of bad weather. No pilgrim was allowed to proceed towards the Valley from Jammu today (Friday) because of heavy rains along the Jammu-Srinagar highway,” a police officer said.

“Over 70,000 pilgrims had `darshan’ at the cave shrine in the first three days. The pilgrim rush on the two tracks has also forced us to suspend the yatra,” he added.

“We will allow the pilgrims to proceed towards the cave shrine if the weather permits later today (Friday). But, we will take a decision only after the sky clears.”

The two month long annual pilgrimage began Wednesday. Over 200,000 pilgrims from various states have registered for this year’s pilgrimage to pay obeisance before a naturally made Shivlingam at a height of 3,888 metres above sea level.

“No pilgrim vehicle was allowed from Jammu because of the rains and fear of landslides on the highway,” an official said.

It was raining in Jammu and its surrounding areas as also along the Jammu-Srinagar national highway, which pilgrims take to reach the two base camps at Pahalgam and Baltal.

The highway is prone to landslides, as the mountains through which the 294 km highway passes, is geologically fragile.

The official told IANS that the track used by the pilgrims - both from Pahalgam and Baltal - was slippery and “we are not going to take any risk at this stage”.

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