SRINAGAR, August 26, 2018 (Tribune India): The two-month-long Amarnath yatra concluded peacefully on Sunday with the holding of prayers at the cave shrine of Lord Shiva nestled in the South Kashmir Himalayas at an altitude of around 13,500 feet. Puja was held when the Chhari Mubarak (holy mace) depicting Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati arrived at the shrine. “We prayed for peace in the state as well as the country,” said custodian of the holy mace Mahant Deependra Giri, who led a group of sadhus to the cave shrine. The Amarnath yatra, which is held along the Pahalgam and Baltal routes, concludes when the mace arrives at the cave shrine on Shravan Purnima.
According to Bhupinder Kumar, Additional Chief Executive Officer of the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB), 285,006 yatris paid obeisance at the cave shrine. Last year, 260,000 pilgrims had performed the yatra. This year, the annual yatra had begun on June 28 amid security concerns even as inclement weather conditions posed a bigger challenge, causing frequent suspensions in the pilgrimage. During the first two weeks, several pilgrims had to go back without undertaking the yatra despite reaching the base camps. However, weather conditions improved later and the yatra too was conducted smoothly.