Amid loud chants of ‘Bham Bham Bhole’, ‘Jai Barfani Baba ki’ the first batch of over 1100 spirited Amarnath pilgrims was flagged off from yatri bhawan Jammu amid tight security arrangements by the state Tourism Minister GA Mir early Friday morning.
The first batch of pilgrims would perform ‘darshan’ at the cave shrine on saturday via Baltal route.
Due to slow pace of snow clearance operations along the Pahalgam-Chandanwari route the yatra from this route is expected to start in the first week of July.
The shrine board authorities are monitoring the situation on daily basis and have already announced that the pilgrims registered on this route would not be permitted to start the yatra till June 30.
Before the formal flag off ceremony was solemnized at the yatri niwas base camp the local priests performed special prayers and blew counch shells invoking god almighty for the smooth conduct of the yatra.
The mood among the pilgrims was upbeat at the base camp. Before embarking on the journey the pilgrims including large number of women and children were seen dancing to the drum beats of ‘Bam Bam Bhole’ and singing praises of Lord Shiva amid loud clap trap.
“We are fully prepared and geared up to perform darshan inside the holy cave after tracking the hostile terrain,large number of pilgrims said before starting the yatra. “We are not scared, the government has made elaborate security arrangements enroute the yatra track”, said pilgrims.
To welcome the pilgrims state Tourism Minister GA Mir along with senior officers of the state police and district administration were present on the occasion.
However, none of the elected BJP legislators, Jammu based congress ministers or parliamentarian was present during the flag off ceremony at Jammu yatri bhawan.
Before the first sunlight he flagged off the first batch of 1160 pilgrims.
The caravan of different vehicles was escorted by the elite CRPF commandos.
Welcoming the pilgrims G A Mir said, “The state government has made elaborate security arrangements to ensure safety and comfort of the pilgrims “.
He said health camps have been set up along the yatra route to assist pilgrims and adequate staff has been deputed to facilitate the smooth yatra.