Jammu, August 18
The 10-day Budha Amarnath Yatra began on Friday with a batch of over 1,000 pilgrims leaving the Bhagwati Nagar base camp here for Jammu and Kashmir's mountainous Poonch district.
Chants of "Bam Bam Bhole", "Har Har Mahadev" and "Jai Shri Ram" rent the air as the pilgrims' convoy was flagged off by Additional Director General of Police, Jammu Zone, Mukesh Singh.
A total of 1,338 pilgrims, including 907 men and 411 women, left for the Budha Amarnath shrine in Poonch's Rajpura village in a convoy of 29 vehicles. The convoy was escorted by paramilitary forces, officials said.
Representatives of religious and social organisations, including Vishva Hindu Parishad national general secretary Vinayakrao Deshpande and Bajrang Dal national convenor Neeraj Doneria, attended the flagging off ceremony at the Bhagwati Nagar base camp.
Before the yatra was flagged off by Singh, a puja was performed amid the chanting of shlokas and mantras.
Speaking to reporters, Singh said the Budha Amarnath Yatra is one of the most important Hindu pilgrimages in north India and adequate security arrangements have been made to ensure a smooth pilgrimage.
The Budha Amarnath temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is one of the oldest shrines in the Jammu region and attracts a large number of devotees during the annual yatra, which concludes with the arrival of 'Charri Mubarak' (holy mace) at the shrine from the Dashnami Akhara, Poonch.
The sacred Pulsata river flows by the temple and devotees bathe in it before entering the temple.
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