A record breaking 6.35 lakh pilgrims took part in the 46-day Amarnath yatra in south Kashmir Himalayas which came to an end today as the ‘Charri Mubarak’ (holy mace) of Lord Shiva reached the cave shrine.
The ‘Charri Mubarak’ of Lord Shiva reached the shrine from Panchtarni halting station this morning after a night halt, officials said.
Led by Mahant Deependra Giri, custodian of holy mace, hundreds of devotees and sadhus accompanied it, they said.
A special prayer was offered on the occasion of ‘Shravan Purnima’ to pay obeisance to ice-lingam of Lord Shiva – coinciding with Raksha Bandhan – to mark the conclusion of the annual yatra, which began on June 29.
Governor N N Vohra, who is also Chairman of Shri Amarnath Shrine Board, and Chief Executive Officer of the board R K Goyal also took part in the prayers at the cave shrine.
After the traditional prayers, the ‘Charri Mubarak’ was taken to Panchtarni for a night halt.
The holy mace is scheduled to reach Chandanwari tomorrow and Pahalgam on Monday on its return journey.
‘Pujan’ and ‘Visarjan’ ceremonies would be performed on the banks of river Lidder in Pahalgam on Monday while the Chhari would return to its abode at Dashnami Akhara in Srinagar on the same day.
This year’s yatra witnessed the highest number of pilgrims – 6.35 lakh – paying obeisance at the 3880-metre high cave shrine. The previous record for highest number of pilgrims in one year was set in 2005 when 5.31 lakh yatris had visited the shrine.
About 3.40 lakh pilgrims took shorter route to the cave shrine through Baltal in Ganderbal district while 2.84 lakh yatris visited via traditional Pahalgam-Chandanwari track in Anantnag district, officials said.
More than 100 pilgrims and four Muslim porters died due to natural causes – mostly due to cardiac arrests – during this year’s pilgrimage.