Srinagar, June 25: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman visited the Baltal base camp in Jammu and Kashmir on Monday to review security arrangements made for the annual Amarnath Yatra. Officials in the Defence Ministry said Sitharaman, accompanied by senior commanders of the Army, was briefed on the three-tier security arrangements made for the Yatra that begins on June 28. As many as 213 additional companies of paramilitary forces have been deployed to secure the nearly 400 km-long Yatra route from winter capital Jammu to the two base camps of Baltal and south Kashmir’s Pahalgam.
The 36 km-long trek from Pahalgam has halting points at Chandanwari, Sheshnag, Panchtarni and finally the Cave shrine situated at an altitude of 12,756 feet above the sea level. Pilgrims using the Pahalgam route take four days to reach the shrine. Those using the Baltal route reach back to the base camp the same day after praying inside the shrine cave which involves only 14 km-long one-way uphill trek. Helicopter services are also available for the pilgrims on both the routes. The cave houses an ice stalagmite structure believed to symbolize the mythical powers of Lord Shiva. The structure waxes and wanes corresponding to the visible moon. (IANS)