Many Amarnath pilgrims stranded in Jammu


Jammu : Lakhan Kishore, a pilgrim from Uttar Pradesh, is already here with his family for the Amarnath pilgrimage in the Kashmir Himalayas. But Kishore, who was among the first to register for the journey, is not sure of the dates he would be allowed to proceed towards the shrine and may have to stay on in Jammu for a day or two at least.

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The pilgrimage to the cave shrine located at an altitude of 13,500 feet in the Kashmir Valley began Monday but many pilgrims were stranded in Jammu as they were not allowed to move on. Belated snowfall and delay in opening the traditional route from Pahalgam have held up the pilgrims in Jammu.

The delay in the pilgrimage, which was to start earlier June 7, caused confusion for many pilgrims who had registered themselves according to the initial schedule.

Kishore was registered to set out on the trek June 14 from the Baltal route, a shorter but steep track to the shrine. After he learned that the pilgrimage would start June 15, he assumed that his pilgrimage day would be a day later than original June 14.

“Now I am being told that I would have to get my registration revalidated and that too if there is quota available on a particular day,” said an angry Kishore.

“I did not delay the pilgrimage. They (the shrine board) did it,” he said.

“They should have adopted normal procedure, on first come first serve basis,” he said as many other stranded pilgrims, caught in the similar situation, also complained.

And many of the pilgrims have come with their families.

Assistant tourist officer Anil Koul said the government and the temple board have cleared the registration of stranded pilgrims for the Baltal.

But he said the pilgrims who want to travel through the traditional route involving a 46-km trek from the tourist resort of Pahalgam may have to wait for some more time as heavy snowfall has already delayed the start of the pilgrimage on this route.

“We are not sure of the Pahalgam route,” Koul said.

A decision on opening the Pahalgam route is likely to be taken June 22.

“I have been undertaking pilgrimage from the (Pahalgam) route for the past five years,” said Abhay Kumar, a lawyer from Agra.

In a fix, Kumar said he cannot wait till June 22 and going back home without undertaking the pilgrimage was a bad omen.