Nine thousand pilgrims had ‘darshan’ inside the holy cave on the 23rd day of the Amarnath Yatra, as another batch of 3,898 devotees left Jammu for the Kashmir Valley on Monday.
Of the 3,898 yatris who left Jammu’s Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas in an escorted convoy for the valley, “2,898 are male, 898 are female, 12 children, 79 Sadhus and 11 Sadhvis,” officials said.
A record breaking 3.26 lakh pilgrims have performed the Yatra till date since it commenced on July 1.
A total of 36 pilgrims have died so far, including 35 who passed away due to natural causes, while one person was killed in a stone hit on the Pahalgam-Cave shrine axis.
Yatris approach the Himalayan cave shrine either from the traditional south Kashmir Pahalgam route which involves an uphill trek of 43 km for from the north Kashmir Baltal base camp which involves a 13 km uphill trek.
Those using the Pahalgam route take 3-4 days to reach the cave shrine, while those using the Baltal route return to the base camp the same day after darshan.
Helicopter services are also available for yatris on both routes.
The cave shrine situated 3,888 metres above the sea-level, houses an ice stalagmite structure that devotees believe symbolises mythical powers of Lord Shiva.
The istructure wanes and waxes with the phases of the moon.
This year’s 62-day long Amarnath Yatra will end on August 31 coinciding with the Shravan Purnima festival.
To protect the pilgrims from high altitude sickness, authorities have banned all junk food at the free community kitchens set up along the two routes.
The banned items include all bottled drinks, halwai items, fried food and tobacco-based products.