Officials said the fresh batch of pilgrims, including 1,039 women and 203 sadhus, left the Bhagwati Nagar base camp here in a convoy of vehicles under tight security arrangements in the early hours today and are expected to reach base camps of Pahalgam and Baltal in the Valley later in the day.
A convoy of 67 vehicles heading for Baltal for their onward journey through the 12-km arduous track was the first to leave with 1,822 pilgrims, including 476 women, and was followed by second convoy of 128 vehicles with 3,322 pilgrims including 544 women and 203 sadhus who had opted the 36-km traditional Pahalgam route, the officials said.
A total of 40,935 pilgrims had so far joined the yatra from the Bhagwati Nagar base camp, while rest of the pilgrims had directly reached the base camps on their own and had 'darshan' (glimpse) at the shrine.
The inclement weather had played a spoilsport this year as heavy rains forced suspension of the yatra several times over the past 12 days, as a result of which thousands of pilgrims were left stranded at various places from Lakhanpur the gateway to the state bordering Punjab to the cave shrine.
The MeT office has again predicted wet weather from today till July 15 with heavy rains at isolated places.
The officials said the weather is being monitored on hourly basis, especially along the yatra track and all necessary precautionary measures are being taken to ensure safety of the pilgrims.
While heavy rains lashed Jammu this morning for over an hour, the weather along the twin tracks was cloudy but the pilgrimage was progressing smoothly and satisfactorily, they said.
Over 1.04 lakh pilgrims from across the country had paid their obeisance till last evening at the 3,888-metre high cave, housing the naturally formed ice-shivlingam, since the beginning of the yatra on June 28 from the twin tracks of Pahalgam in Anantnag district and Baltal in Ganderbal district.
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