Jammu : The Jammu-Srinagar highway is currently closed due to landslides, leaving approximately 35,000 Amarnath pilgrims waiting for their return. The Shri Amarnath Yatra from the Baltal route was resumed after the weather cleared, with thousands of pilgrims sent towards the holy cave. Helicopter services were also initiated, but the closure of the highway has prevented the dispatch of the batch from Jammu for the third consecutive day.
The administration has announced that the pilgrims will not be able to leave Jammu even in the early hours of Tuesday. Around 40,000 pilgrims are currently waiting to embark on the yatra in Kathua, Samba, Jammu, Udhampur, and Chandrakot in Ramban district. In Jammu alone, over 21,000 devotees of Lord Shiva have been accommodated at Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas and other community centers and religious places.
The devotees are determined to return only after having the darshan of Barfani Baba. Likewise, approximately 35,000 pilgrims who have traveled from Kashmir are also awaiting the reopening of the highway for their return journey.
On Monday, a record number of 24,200 devotees paid obeisance at the holy cave, making it the highest single-day visitation this year. Overall, more than 117,000 Shiv devotees have visited Baba Barfani thus far. The yatra is scheduled to conclude on August 31st.
The decision to begin the yatra from Baltal at sunrise brought joy to the faces of the devotees who had been waiting at the base camp for three days. The number of devotees increased as they chanted ‘Har Har Mahadev’. By evening, around four thousand devotees had returned to Baltal after having darshan.
As efforts are underway on a war footing to reopen the Jammu-Srinagar highway, which has been closed due to landslides in various places in Ramban district, the pilgrims remain stranded in different camps across the Jammu division. Currently, there are approximately 4,235 pilgrims in Kathua district, 3,000 in Samba, 21,000 in Jammu, over 2,500 in Udhampur, and about 5,000 in Chandrakot in Ramban district.
Similarly, after completing the Amarnath Yatra, around 35,000 pilgrims are awaiting the reopening of the highway to return to Baltal, Pahalgam, and other camps in Kashmir. Some devotees are considering air travel as an alternative, but the high cost of tickets makes it unfeasible for everyone.