Srinagar, July 17: Despite the terrorist attack on the bus of pilgrims in Anantnag district, the enthusiasm within the pilgrims of Amarnath Shrine reached new heights on Monday when the Amarnath Shrine Board reported 2,02,705 devotees have paid obeisance till this morning. The board in its daily release stated 7,214 devotees paid obeisance on Sunday, the 18th day of Yatra. Similarly, the devotees were seen departing the base camps at Baltal, Sheshnag and Pachtarni. The 40-day pilgrimage commenced on June 29.

After the attack on pilgrims, security was beefed up along the route of the pilgrimage. The board’s website further informed 6,097 devotees visited the holy shrine on the first day of the Yatra. Officials are expecting the journey to see a record number of devotees after seeing the least participation last year. Overall 2.20 Lakh devotees visited the site last year. This year, the pilgrimage saw another bus accident on Sunday which claimed the lives of 16 pilgrims.

The Jammu and Kashmir State Road Transport Corp bus carrying 45 pilgrims was on its way from Jammu to the Kashmir Valley when the driver reportedly lost control over the vehicle at Nichnala near Banihal town on the Jammu-Srinagar highway and roll down a mountain on Sunday, the statement by the government said.

“As confirmed by SSP (Senior Superintendent of Police) Ramban, 16 pilgrims died and 29 got injured. Eighteen injured have been airlifted to Government Medical College and Hospital in Jammu by chopper and the remaining 11 with minor injuries left for Srinagar by road,” the statement said.

What is Amarnath Yatra?

Amarnath Yatra, a 40-day pilgrimage is performed by devotees. The mythology suggests Lord Shiva told the secret of his eternity in the holy cave. However, Kashmiri folklore states the cave was found by a herder Buta Malik in 1850 who was handed over a bag of coal which later turned into gold. He told the story to Kashmiri Pandits of his village who started praying at the cave.