Srinagar: Twelve thousand Hindu pilgrims from across the country on Sunday reached the two base camps in Jammu and Kashmir for the Amarnath Yatra, even as the authorities stepped up the three tier security along route of the pilgrimage.
The Yatra for the Himalayan Cave Shrine is scheduled to begin on Monday. Around 10,000 pilgrims reached the north Kashmir Baltal base camp in the morning. Reports from the south Kashmir Pahalgam base camp said that around 2,000 pilgrims were waiting there to start the 34-kilometre long trek to the Cave Shrine tomorrow.
Paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), the state police and the Army have stepped up efforts to provide the three-tier security cover to the Yatra.
While pilgrims take four days from the Pahalgam base camp to reach the cave, those using the Baltal route return back to the base camp after the 'darshan' the same day.
The trek from Baltal to the Cave Shrine is 14 kilometres long.
Situated at an altitude of 13,000 feet, the Amarnath Cave houses the 'Holy Lingam' an ice stalagmite structure believed to symbolise the powers of Lord Shiva.
The 'Lingam' waxes and wanes with the cycles of the moon till the end of the Yatra coinciding with the Hindu festival of 'Shravan Purnima'.
This year's Yatra will officially begin tomorrow and end on August 2.
State governor, NN Vohra who is also the chairman of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) visited the two base camps of the Yatra and various halting points en route to the Cave Shrine on Saturday along with a team of state government officials.
The SASB has said that the twin treks from Baltal and Pahalgam have been cleared for the passage of the pilgrims even though Vohra said that the treks were still slippery at many places.
Scores of makeshift tea-stalls and food shops have been opened by local Muslims along the 85-kilometre long Srinagar-Baltal route for the pilgrims.
All the potters and ponywallahs assisting the passage of the pilgrims along both the Yatra treks are local Muslims who eagerly wait for the arrival of the Hindu pilgrims to earn their livelihood.
Dozens of other state government offices including medical department, public health engineering, public works, revenue etc are also detailed on Yatra duties to facilitate its smooth conduct.