SRINAGAR: For the pilgrims who are anticipated to visit the holy cave of Amarnath in big numbers this year, extraordinary security measures have been put in place to ensure a safe and easy Yatra.
After a hiatus of two years owing to the COVID pandemic, the 43-day pilgrimage to the Himalayan shrine is set to begin on June 30 from the dual routes - the traditional 48-km Nunwan in south Kashmir's Pahalgam and the 14-km shorter Baltal in central Kashmir's Ganderbal. Security forces have deployed temporary posts on all of the peaks that connect Pahalgam and Baltal to the sacred cave.
Ponywallahs, load bearers, owners of roadside tea stalls, taxi drivers, tour guides, hoteliers, handicraft vendors, furriers, and others who are directly or indirectly involved with the Yatra have all skipped the trip over the past two years, just like Yatris.
This is most likely the only explanation for why tea stalls, handicraft shops, pavement vendors, and merchants of various local arts and crafts have already set up shop on both the north Kashmir Baltal road and the south Kashmir Pahalgam route days before the start of the annual pilgrimage.