IANS

 The Second batch of pilgrims left for the Valley early on Saturday morning in escorted convoys for the Amarnath Yatra which has begun. 

Officials said that the second batch of 4,029 Yatris left Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas in Jammu for Kashmir valley in two escorted convoys of 200 vehicles.

“Of these, 1,850 Yatris left for Baltal base camp at 4 a.m. in 104 vehicles, and 2,179 left in 96 vehicles for Nunwan (Pahalgam) base camp at 4.30 a.m.

“Both convoys are escorted by the security forces,” officials said.

The 52-day-long Amarnath Yatra begins today and will end on August 19, coinciding with the festival of Raksha Bandhan and Shravan Purnima.

Yatris take either the 48 km-long traditional Pahalgam route or the shorter 14 km-long Baltal route to perform the Yatra.

Those taking the Pahalgam route take four days to reach the shrine, while those taking the Baltal route return the same day after Darshan.

The shrine is situated 3,888 metres above sea level and houses an ice stalagmite that wanes and waxes with the phases of the moon.

Devotees believe that the structure symbolises the mythical powers of Lord Shiva.

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

Over 124 Langars (community kitchens) have been set up along both the routes as well as at the transit camps and the cave shrine.

Over 7,000 Sevadars (volunteers) are serving the pilgrims during this year’s Yatra.

To manage the rush of the Yatris, railways have decided to add additional trains from July 3.

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

(Except for the headline, this story, from a syndicated feed, has not been edited by Odishatv.in staff)

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