First batch of Amarnath pilgrims reach Baltal camp

| Updated: Jun 29, 2017 05:01 IST

Baltal (Jammu and Kashmir) [India] June 28 (ANI): The first batch of Amarnath pilgrims reached Baltal base camp in Jammu and Kashmir on Wednesday. Talking to ANI, Piyush Singla, DC, Ganderbal, said, "The first group is expected to start their journey for the Amarnath Cave on Friday morning at 5 a.m. The administration has set a target of sending 7500 pilgrims in different batches for the Amarnath Cave. However, we will have a review meeting late in the night as there was rain in the evening. " "I want to assure the pilgrims that all the arrangements have been made to make their pilgrimage safe and comfortable," Singla said. Fayaz Ahmad Lone, Superintendent of Police, Ganderbal, said, "This time we have three-tier security in place. We are sure that the Amarnath Yatra will be any untoward incident free. We appeal to the Yatris that they should come without any fear. The Amarnath cave is situated at an altitude of 3,888 metres. The cave is surrounded by snowy mountains and is covered with snow most of the year except for a short period of time in summer when it is open for annual Amarnath Yatra. The Baltal base camp is located in Sonamarg, around 110kms from capital Srinagar. The pilgrims have expressed satisfaction over the security arrangements and hospitality of the Kashmiris. A piligrim, Devesh Pandey, told ANI that if the weather allows then tomorrow morning he and his group will embark on the sacred yatra to have a glimpse of Lord Shiva. "The security and other arrangements for the pilgrims are more than our expectations. Local Kashmiris are also welcoming us and extending support," Pandey said. Vijay Yadav, who is undertaking the yatra for the 11th time, also said the government and the administration have made best security arrangements. He also praised the local Kashmiris and said, "There are few people in Kashmir who want that Amarnath pilgrims shouldn't come but the local Kashmiris have always been very receptive and helpful." Sachin Yadav, who also has been coming for the annual yatra, said that this time the security arrangements are much better than his previous pilgrimages. Ajaz Ahmad Teli, local Kashmiri vendor who sells sweaters and jackets, said, "We are very happy to see the first batch of Amarnath Yatris. After all they are our guests as well as customers also."(ANI)