Amarnath pilgrimage to start from Baltal MondayJune 12th, 2009 - 11:03 pm ICT by IANS
Jammu, June 12 (IANS) The annual Amarnath pilgrimage that attracts tens of thousands of Hindus will start June 15 from Baltal, taking the shorter and steeper route to the Himalayan cave shrine in Jammu and Kashmir, it was announced here Friday.
Pilgrims taking the traditional route of Pahalgam via Sheshnag and Mahagunus pass at a height of 14,000 feet will set out June 21.
“The first batch of the pilgrims will leave Jammu on June 15 and would reach the cave shrine on June 16,” a spokesman of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) said in a release after the board chairman conducted an aerial survey of the tracks Friday.
“The Baltal route has been cleared of snow, while there is a thick layer of snow on Pahalgam cave route. The snow clearance operations were on and the pilgrims would be able to start their pilgrimage to the shrine by June 21 from that route,” the spokesman said.
The SASB, which is responsible for the administration of the shrine located at the height of 13,500 feet above sea level, made it clear that the safety of the pilgrims is most important.
The Amarnath shrine, where an ice stalagmite is formed and is seen as an icon of Lord Shiva by the devotees, attracts nearly 400,000 pilgrims.
The pilgrimage period this year will be effectively a little short of seven weeks, against eight weeks in the previous three years.
More than 200,000 people have registered themselves for the pilgrimage.
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Tags: aerial survey, board chairman, clearance operations, devotees, feet above sea level, himalayan cave, hindus, jammu, kashmir, lord shiva, pahalgam, pilgrimage, pilgrims, sasb, seven weeks, shri, shrine board, snow clearance, stalagmite, thick layer