“Out of 7500 pilgrims gathered at the Baltal base camp (Ganderbal), 4000 had crossed the Dumail gate to start the 14-kilometre long trek to the Cave Shrine early today,” said a senior police officer here.
“By 10 a.m. the remaining 3500 pilgrims will also cross the gate towards the Cave Shrine,” he said.
From Nunwan base camp (in Pahalgam in Anantnag), 1600 yatris had crossed Chandanwari towards the Cave Shrine in the morning, the police officer said.
Jammu and Kashmir Governor N.N. Vohra and Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh are also visiting the Amarnath Cave Shrine on Saturday to participate in the special puja that heralds the beginning of the annual yatra.
Vohra and Rajnath Singh will have ‘Darshan’ of the ice stalagmite inside the cave which is revered as a ‘Shiva Linga’ by the devotees.
It is believed that the Shiva Linga grows and shrinks with the phases of the moon reaching its height during the summer festival.
This years’s 48-day long yatra will end on August 17 coinciding with Shravan Purnima and Raksha Bandhan festivals.