"Another batch of 2,128 yatris left the Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas here today morning for the Valley. It includes 399 females, 20 children and 135 sadhus," a senior police officer said.

"The yatris left in 12 vehicles in an escorted convoy," the officer said.

The cave shrine houses an ice stalagmite structure that waxes and wanes with the phases of the moon. Devotees call the stalagmite structure the 'Holy Lingam' and believe it symbolises mystical powers of Lord Shiva.

The over 300-km long Jammu-Srinagar national highway is the only surface route for the annual Hindu pilgrimage to the Himalayan cave shrine situated 14,500 feet above the sea level in South Kashmir's Anantnag district.

Heavy rain has been lashing the highway throughout yesterday night, triggering landslides at some places.

An official of the Traffic Department said there has been landslide in the Bannihal sector of the highway because of heavy rainfall, but the highway has been restored for one-way traffic to facilitate the passage of the yatris.

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