JAMMU: The 46-day long annual pilgrimage to the Amarnath cave shrine in south Kashmir Himalayas will begin on July 1, a Raj Bhavan official said here Thursday.
The decision was taken at the 36th meeting of the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) which met at the Raj Bhavan under the chairmanship of Governor Satya Pal Malik, he said.
The SASB manages the annual pilgrimage on the traditional Pahalgam route in Anantnag district and the shorter, Baltal track, in Ganderbal district.
Based on the approach set by the Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Committee, the board decided the 46-day-long yatra will begin on July 1, the day of Masik Shivratri according to the Hindu calender and would conclude on August 15, the day of Shravan Purnima and Raksha Bandhan festival, the official said.
The Sri Sri Ravi Shankar Committee had been set up to advise the board regarding the duration and schedule of the pilgrimage.
After considering the carrying capacity of the tracks and available infrastructure in the yatra area, the board decided to allow 7,500 pilgrims per day on each of the two routes, excluding those travelling by choppers, to secure advance registration for the pilgrimage, the spokesperson said.
The board also noted the steps taken by Chief Executive Officer, SASB, for registration of pilgrims through 440 designated branches of the Punjab National Bank, the Jammu and Kashmir Bank and YES Bank, located in 32 states and Union Territories, and directed him to take the required steps to commence advance registration of pilgrims from April 1, he said.
In addition to the existing ways of registration, the board has also approved proposal for online registration of an limited number of intending pilgrims each day on a pilot basis, he said.
The spokesperson said the board further advised the CEO to appeal to all the potential pilgrims to consult their doctors before embarking on the pilgrimage.
"The CEO shall also widely publicise that no person below the age of 13 and above the age of 75 shall be permitted to undertake the pilgrimage," he said.
The board directed the CEO to take steps for ensuring uninterrupted telecom connectivity in the area during the pilgrimage, the official said, adding it also requested the intending pilgrims to make themselves physically fit for the arduous journey.
The board then reviewed the action plan drawn up for this year's pilgrimage, including medical care, sanitation facilities, installation of the railings at all vulnerable points on the two routes and ensuring removal of garbage in a scientific and environment friendly manner, the official added.