The annual Amarnath yatra will commence on June 28 with all Covid-19 protocols in place. During the 40th board meeting of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB), chaired by Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha at Raj Bhavan earlier on Saturday, it was decided that the yatra will culminate on the day of Raksha Bandhan, August 22, as per regular traditions.
Registration for Yatra begins on April1
The board has also agreed that the registration process for the pilgrimage to the 3,880-metre high Himalayan cave shrine located in south Kashmir would begin on April 1 through 446 branches of Punjab National Bank, Jammu and Kashmir Bank and YES Bank located in 37 states and Union Territories across the country.
During the meeting, the Jammu and Kashmir administration also approved the remunerations for pujaris at Rs 1500 per day for the next three years, unlike Rs 1000 per day earlier.
Last year, the Amarnath yatra was restricted only to a group of Sadhus owing of the coronavirus pandemic, while in 2019, it was called off mid-way due to terror threat on August 2, just three days before the Centre revoked provisions of Article 370 from the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir.
According to reports, over 3.42 lakh pilgrims had visited the Hindu cave shrine in 2019, which houses the naturally formed ice-Shivling. Meanwhile, over 3.52 lakh pilgrims, the highest number recorded so far, had paid their obeisance at the shrine in 2015.
Routes for the yatra
Keeping in view the rising cases of coronavirus, the board has also decided that the yatra, this year, would commence simultaneously from both the routes — the traditional 46-kilometers Pahalgam track in Anantnag district as well as the 12-kilometers Baltal in Ganderbal district on June 28, the auspicious Hindu day of 'Ashaad Chaturthi'.
However, irrespective of the COVID-19 SOPs rules developed by the government, no person below the age of 13 years and above the age of 75 years will be permitted to undertake the pilgrimage.
In addition, the daily route-wise pilgrims ceiling from 7,500 per day per route will also be enhanced, this year, to 10,000, excluding those who would travel by helicopters. The board also decided to increase the accidental insurance cover for yatris and service providers was also enhanced from Rs 3 lakh to Rs 5 lakh, and for ponies from Rs 30,000 to Rs 50,000.
The introduction of free of cost battery car service up and down of the 2.75-km-long Baltal to Domel stretch is one of the major highlights of the Amarnath yatra this year.