20 July:Authorities on Sunday suspended the ongoing Amarnath Yatra after heavy rains along the two routes to the holy cave shrine in south Kashmir Himalayas.
The yatra was suspended from both sides – traditional 46-km route from Pahalgam in Anantnag district and the shortest 12-km distance from Baltal in Ganderbal district – around 12.30 pm as heavy rains rendered the tracks slippery, official sources said.
Helicopter service to the shrine has also been suspended in view of the inclement weather, sources said adding that none of the yatris are stranded along the tracks and they are safe as all of them have reached halting station.
A record number of over 4.94 lakh pilgrims visited the 3,880-metre-high holy cave till last evening since the commencement of the yatra on 17th June.
This is the highest number of pilgrims who had visited the cave shrine housing the naturally formed ice Shivlingam in a single year, sources said.
In 2004, nearly 4.30 lakh pilgrims visit the cave shrine which was the highest in a decade. During the same year, the pilgrimage was extended for one month in addition to the traditional one-month period.
Prior to the eruption of militancy in the state, only a few hundred devotees, mostly sadhus, used to pay obeisance at the cave shrine.
However, cave shrine came into limelight in the late 90s and more yatris flocked to join the annual pilgrimage after bans imposed by some militant groups, which later retracted following appeals from various political, separatists and other militant groups. Courtesy DD NEWS