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IANS

Over 1.64 lakh yatris have so far performed the ongoing Amarnath yatra as another batch of 5,838 pilgrims left Bhagwati Nagar base camp in Jammu on Saturday for the Valley.

Officials of the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) said that since the commencement of yatra on June 30, as many as 1,64,024 people have completed it which included 12,000 who paid obeisance at the cave shrine on Friday.

In addition to 16 pilgrims killed by flash floods on July 8, a total of 28 others have died of natural causes.

Almost all the 28 pilgrims who died of natural causes have died of high altitude sickness.

This morning, 5,838 pilgrims left Bhagwati Nagar base camp in two escorted convoys for the Valley.

Of these, 2,547 are en route to Baltal base camp, while 3,291 are going to Pahalgam base camp.

Those taking the Baltal route have to trek 14 Kms to reach the cave shrine. They shall return to the base camp the same day after having Darshan.

For those using the Pahalgam route, will have to trek 48 Kms for four days to reach the cave shrine.

Helicopter services are available for the pilgrims on both the routes.

Situated 3888 metres above the sea level in Kashmir Himalayas, the cave shrine houses an ice stalagmite structure that wanes and waxes with the phases of the moon.

Devotees believe the ice stalagmite structure symbolises mythical powers of Lord Shiva.

The 43-day long Yatra which started on June 30, will end on August 11.

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