Heavy rains halt Amarnath pilgrimage

July 6th, 2008 - 3:01 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Amarnath Shrine

Srinagar, July 6 (IANS) The passage to the holy Amarnath cave was suspended Sunday following heavy rains on both the north and the south Kashmir routes to the 3,888 metre high Himalayan shrine. “All pilgrims scheduled to undertake the 12-km long trek from the Baltal base camp to the cave have been halted at Baltal because of heavy rains and extremely slippery conditions on the track,” a police officer told IANS here.

The officer also said the helicopter services for the pilgrims from the Baltal base camp to the cave could also not be operated Sunday because of the inclement weather.

Reports from the south Kashmir Pahalgam route also said heavy rains had forced the authorities to halt the pilgrims at the Nunwan base camp.

“The decision to allow the pilgrims to proceed to the cave from the two base camps would only be taken after the weather improves,” the police officer said.

T.K. Jotshi, assistant director of the weather office here, told IANS: “The Kashmir Valley is going to have rains for the next two days with intermittent let-ups.

“This is mainly the monsoon effect though it is also accompanied by a mild Western disturbance.”

Despite the forest land allotment controversy to the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB), which raged in the valley for nearly a fortnight and still shows no signs of dying down in the Jammu region, a record number of around 300,000 pilgrims have so far performed the pilgrimage to the high altitude shrine.

In comparison to this, last year only 250,000 pilgrims had performed the faith journey during the entire two-month period.

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