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Amarnath Yatra begins, army clears snow-bound tracks

By Mukhtar Ahmad In Srinagar
June 15, 2009 09:34 IST
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The annual pilgrimage to the Himalayan cave shrine of Amarnath was flagged off from winter capital Jammu on Monday morning.The yatra is being initially allowed via the north Kashmir Baltel route as the traditional south Kashmir route remains snow bound. The first batch comprising of 900 yatris left for Baltel from Jammu on Monday morning. This year's yatra had to be postponed by a week as both the Himalayan tracks to the cave shrine were snow bound, forcing the authorities to reschedule it.

The authorities have announced regulation of the pilgrimage on the Baltel route. Accordingly, pilgrims embarking on the arduous journey would be allowed to proceed beyond Domel only up to 9 am each day. "Keeping in view the recent snowfall, rains and slushy track on the route from Domel to the holy cave, time-bound regulation of the pilgrimage assumes greater significance in order to ensure the safety and security of the yatris", a spokesman of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board  said, while issuing an advisory for the pilgrims.

"As the pilgrims have to trek through high mountains, they are advised to carry adequate woollen clothing, a small umbrella, raincoat, waterproof shoes, torch, a stick, cap, gloves, jacket, woollen socks and trousers. These are essential as the climate is unpredictable, particularly in view of the recent inclement weather. The temperature sometimes falls to 5 degree Celsius."

 "For ladies, the sari is not a suitable dress for the yatra. Salwar kameez, shirts, pants or track suits will be more comfortable for the yatris. The pilgrims must keep the porters and horses, ponies with their luggage alongside as it may be difficult to trace them in case they get separated from them. This is necessary as they may suddenly need some items from their luggage. Each pony and horse-wallah would be wearing a photo identity card," the spokesman said. "The yatris must carry a slip in their pocket which shows their name, address and mobile number and details of any accompanying yatri. They must also carry with them their identity cards or driving licences, besides the yatra slip. Every yatri is advised to carry general medicines such as Glucose, Disprin, Combiflam, a water bottle, some biscuits or dry fruits, cold cream, Vaseline, sunscreen lotion."

 Meanwhile the army has stepped in to augment the track clearance on critical patch from Sangam to the holy cave.

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Mukhtar Ahmad In Srinagar