A batch of 473 pilgrims today left Jammu for the 3,888-metre-high Amarnath cave shrine of Lord Shiva in south Kashmir Himalayas, amid tight security.
Escorted by CRPF and police personnel, the smallest batch till now, comprising 327 males, 46 females along with 100 sadhus and sadhvis left in a convoy of 14 vehicles for Baltal and Pahalgam base-camps of the shrine this morning, officials said.
With today’s batch, 67,307 pilgrims have left Jammu for Amarnath in 26 batches since the yatra began from here on June 28.
The number of pilgrims this year has crossed last year’s figures. As many as 2,46,509 pilgrims have visited the cave shrine till last evening, a senior official said.
The government has mobilised a heavy security blanket of over 35,000 to 40,000 troops including the police, the Army, the BSF and the CRPF.
The annual pilgrimage began amid a terror threat which prompted the authorities to mobilise the “highest level” of security, including satellite tracking system.
This year’s yatra will be eight days shorter than last year’s 48 days and will conclude on Shravan Purnima (Raksha Bandhan) on August 7.
Situated in a narrow gorge at the farther end of Lidder Valley, Amarnath shrine is 46 km from Pahalgam and 14 km from Baltal.