Jammu: Amid tight security, the 17th batch of 4,167 Amarnath pilgrims left the Bhagwati Nagar base camp here on Thursday for the 3,880-metre-high cave shrine in south Kashmir Himalayas, officials said.
As many as 13,928 pilgrims paid obeisance to the ice lingam of Lord Shiva at the holy cave shrine till Wednesday night, taking the total number of devotees who have offered prayers at the shrine since the beginning of the yatra on July 1 to 2,19,011.
Over 2.30 lakh pilgrims from across the country have so far registered themselves for the 46-day long pilgrimage, which takes place from the twin tracks -- traditional 36-km Pahalgam in Anantnag district and 14-km shorter Baltal in Ganderbal district.
The 17th batch comprising 4,167 pilgrims -- 3,211 males, 790 females, 25 children, 140 seers and one transgender-- left in a fleet of 169 vehicles from the Bhagwati Nagar base camp on Thursday morning for twin base camps of Pahalgam and Baltal in Kashmir, the officials said.
For the Pahalgam route, 2,634 pilgrims left the base camp, while 1,533 pilgrims for Baltal left in 98 and 71 buses and light motor vehicles, which were escorted by the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF), officials said.
With this, a total of 84,348 pilgrims have so far left the Bhagwati Nagar base camp since the commencement of the yatra from Jammu on June 30, a day ahead of the official start. Multi-tier security arrangements have been made for smooth and successful conduct of the yatra, which is concluding on August 15.
As many as 2.85 lakh pilgrims paid obeisance at the cave last year, while the number of pilgrims was 3.52 lakh in 2015, 3.20 lakh in 2016 and 2.60 lakh in 2017.