Jammu: The 18th batch of over 5,200 Amarnath pilgrims left from here on Sunday for twin base camps in south Kashmir Himalayas for 3,880-metre-high cave shrine of Amarnath, officials said.
A total of 5,284 pilgrims left Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas here in a convoy of 225 vehicles amid heavy security of CRPF, the officials said.
They said that 1,743 pilgrims heading for Baltal were the first to leave in 87 vehicles around 3.20 am, followed by the second convoy of 138 vehicles carrying 3,541 pilgrims for Pahalgam at 4.20 am.
The annual 43-day yatra commenced on June 30 from the twin base camps — traditional 48-km Nunwan-Pahalgam in south Kashmir’s Anantnag and 14-km shorter route from Baltal in central Kashmir’s Ganderbal.
So far, over 1.65 lakh pilgrims had offered their prayers at the cave shrine, housing the naturally formed ice-shivlingam, the officials said.
With this, a total of 1,05,109 pilgrims have left from the Bhagwati Nagar base camp for the Valley since June 29, the day the first batch of pilgrims was flagged off by Lt Governor Manoj Sinha.
The yatra is scheduled to end on August 11 on the occasion of Raksha Bandhan.
A total of 30 people, mostly pilgrims, have died during the on-going yatra till now, excluding 15 pilgrims who died in the flashfloods at Amarnath cave shrine on July 1.