SRINAGAR The number of pilgrims who paid obeisance at the Amarnath cave shrine in the south Kashmir Himalayas this year crossed the three-lakh mark on Wednesday, first time in four years.
“On the 24th day of the ongoing Shri Amarnathji Yatra, 7,778 yatris paid obeisance at the holy cave. This takes the total number of pilgrims to have had darshan of the shivling this year to 3,01,818,” a Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) spokesperson said.
He said the last time the number of pilgrims had crossed the three-lakh mark was in 2015 when the yatra lasted for 59 days.
“The governor expressed satisfaction over the increased flow of yatris this year and recorded high appreciation of the coordinated effort of the various state government departments and agencies concerned, Army, Central Armed Police Forces, J&K Police, shrine board, all local stakeholders and the civil and police officers deployed as camp officers for the smooth conduct of the yatra,” the spokesman said.
Governor S P Malik, who is the ex-officio chairman of the board, also appreciated the people of the Valley, particularly of Anantnag and Ganderbal districts, for their support and participation in the annual pilgrimage.Officials said four Amarnath pilgrims had died over the past 24 hours en route the cave, taking the death toll in this year’s pilgrimage to 30, officials said on Wednesday.
“While three pilgrims died on Tuesday, one more pilgrim died this morning due to various causes during their pilgrimage to the holy cave shrine of Shri Amarnathji,” they said.
The officials said the death toll in this year’s pilgrimage has now gone up to 30, which included 26 pilgrims, two sevadars (volunteers) and two security forces personnel deployed on duty en route the holy cave.
In addition to these, 40 others have been taken ill or sustained injuries due to shooting stones and other causes since the pilgrimage began on July 1, they said.
Deaths due to cardiac arrest triggered by lack of oxygen in the area around the cave shrine have been common over the years, prompting the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board to issue regular health advisories to the pilgrims.
All pilgrims are required to get a fitness certificate from a doctor before undertaking the pilgrimage to the cave shrine located at an altitude of 3,888 metres