Rough weather halts Amarnath pilgrimage (Lead)

June 16th, 2009 - 9:24 pm ICT by IANS  

Amarnath Shrine Srinagar, June 16 (IANS) The annual pilgrimage to the Amarnath cave shrine in the Kashmir Himalayas was halted Tuesday due to inclement weather as heavy rain lashed the mountainous track to the temple.
The temple board advised the pilgrims not to proceed to the north Kashmir Baltal base camp Wednesday as incessant rains and adverse weather conditions led to slippery conditions on the 14-km long trek to the cave shrine.

“The pilgrims arriving in Jammu have been advised to wait there and join the batch which is scheduled to leave Thursday, subject to an improvement in the weather conditions,” said a spokesperson of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB).

As per the reports last received, it was snowing at the cave.

“The meteorological department has forecast rain and snow for and the yatris (pilgrims) are requested to appreciate that the changes in the schedule are compelled by factors beyond the board’s control,” the spokesperson said.

The first batch of pilgrims left the Baltal base camp in the morning for the Amarnath shrine. More than 10,000 pilgrims, who had reached the base camp in north Kashmir Ganderbal district Monday, offered their first prayers inside the cave where an ice stalagmite is formed and is seen as an icon of Lord Shiva.

The pratham poojan was performed at the cave amid chanting of religious hymns.

The spokesperson said Governor N. N. Vohra, who is also the chairman of the temple board, could not reach the temple due to adverse weather conditions.

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