Srinagar: Undeterred by the tragic devastation in Uttarakhand, the first batch of Amarnath pilgrims reached Baltal, which is the base camp of Amarnath shrine cave in Jammu and Kashmir, on Friday morning.

The batch comprising 3150 pilgrims left Jammu for the shrine on Thursday amidst tight security. According to schedule, the pilgrims will proceed for the cave shrine on Friday if the weather conditions allow it.

Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Minister Ghulam Ahmed Mir flagged off the first batch at around 5.45 am on Thursday for the annual pilgrimage to the Himalayan cave shrine in South Kashmir District of Anantnag. The batch included 2466 men, 563 women, 37 children and 84 saints.

Around 13000 people had registered themselves from Pahalgam and Baltal for the first batch of the yatra.  Out of these, 6150 have taken the route from Pahalgam and 6567from Baltal. Pilgrims have to travel 14 kms of hilly stretch from Baltal base camp to the holy cave while spending some time at resting points at Dumail, Brarimarg and Sangam. The whole journey takes almost eight hours from Baltal to cave shrine and back.

According to the sources, only 7500 registered yatris would be allowed to proceed from Baltal base camp to cave shrine per day. Yatra authorities have said that unregistered pilgrims will not be allowed to go ahead, as they create problems in the smooth running of the pilgrims.

JPN/Bureau

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