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article imageOver 100,000 pilgrims travel to Amarnath Himalayan Shrine

By Sravanth Verma     Jul 7, 2014 in World
Srinagar - Over 100,000 pilgrims have so far made the journey to the Himalayan shrine of Amarnath, located in the North Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.
The pilgrimage began on June 28, and the Amarnath Shrine Board estimates that 112,143 pilgrims have made the journey, known as "yatra," as of June 7.
On June 6 alone, a record 18,994 pilgrims visited the temple. The Amarnath shrine houses a linga, an aniconic form representing Lord Shiva, one of the most significant gods of the Hindu way of life. Uniquely, the linga is of ice, a stalagmite formed from the freezing of water in the sub-zero temperatures of the Himalayas. The shrine is located at an altitude of 12,756 feet and is about 141 kilometers from Srinagar, the capital of Jammu and Kashmir.
The trek route passes through rough terrain, and inclement weather and landslides often delay the pilgrimage and take a toll on lives. This year, 12 pilgrims have lost their lives during the pilgrimage. Volunteers and social service organizations frequently set up community kitchens offering free food, shelter and medical aid to the pilgrims.
Chander Sheikher Sood, the president of one such organization, Baba Barfani Sewa Mandal, said, "There are a lot of facilities for the pilgrims who come here. We understand that the pilgrims have less money. The people who come here are served free and we serve them with our hearts." The volunteers of the organization have made arrangements for nearly 5,000 pilgrims along the route.
Pilgrims have been grateful the arrangements made. Pilgrim Chinky said, "There are a lot of community kitchens that have been set up ahead of Lakhenpur. The food is good and there are lot of facilities for the pilgrims. All preparations are good. People from all religions get the same food and sit together to have it. There is no discrimination."
Adequate security arrangements have also been made. Director General of Police J&K, K Rajindra Kumar said, "There are no specific threat to Amarnath Yatra, but going by the inputs that used to come to us in the past few years, we are taking all necessary precautionary precautions. But there is nothing specific on records.
Central armed police forces have been put on our disposal, whose development on the ground has been made. All the routes have been inspected from Lakhanpur to Baltal and also from Phalagan routes, where the security setup have been put on the ground."
The pilgrimage will conclude on August 10.
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