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Amarnath Yatra: First batch of pilgrims leaves Jammu amid tight security

 Amarnath Yatra: First batch of pilgrims leaves Jammu amid tight security

Jammu, June 28: Jammu and Kashmir Lt. Governor Manoj Sinha on Friday flagged off the first batch of pilgrims embarking on the Amarnath Yatra from here to start this year's 52-day-long pilgrimage to the Himalayan cave shrine.

Amid the chanting of religious hymns, a batch of 4,603 pilgrims left Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas here in two escorted convoys.

DGP, R.R. Swain and other senior officers were present at the flagging-off ceremony.

Of the 4,603 pilgrims, 1,933 are bound for the north Kashmir Baltal route and 2,670 are going to the south Kashmir Numwan (Pahalgam) base camp.

Among the pilgrims, there are 3,631 males, 711 females, 9 children, 237 Sadhus and 15 Sadhvis.

The first escorted convoy left at 5.45 a.m. for Baltal base camp while the second convoy left for Nunwan (Pahalgam) base camp at 6.20 a.m.

Pilgrims either take the 48 km-long traditional Pahalgam route or the shorter 14 km-long Baltal route to reach the shrine.

Those using the Pahalgam route take four days to reach the cave shrine while those taking the Baltal route return on the same day after paying obeisance.

The 52-day-long pilgrimage this year will end on August 19 coinciding with the Raksha Bandhan and Shravan Purnima festivals.

Extensive arrangements for security have been made all along the pilgrimage routes, at the two base camps and the shrine to ensure a smooth, incident-free Yatra.

Helicopter services are also available for the pilgrims on both routes.–(IANS)

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