The top officials of the Jammu and Kashmir administration will conduct pooja in Jammu on Friday, officially marking the start of Amarnath Yatra.
The ‘Pratham Pooja’ will be conducted by Principal secretary to J&K Lieutenant Governor and CEO of Shri Amarnath Shrine Board, Bipul Pathak, ACEO AK Soni.
“It signifies commencement of the annual pilgrimage to the cave shrine of Shri Amarnath. The yatra, however, shall begin on July 21 for a shorter duration of 14 days and it will end on August 3,” official sources told Hindustan Times.
The pilgrimage to the 3,880-metre-high holy cave shrine in south Kashmir will now be conducted from the shorter Baltal route only, they added.
While Deputy Commissioner of Ganderbal, of which Baltal is a part, has already pressed men and machinery for clearing the tracks.
The decision to cut-short the time period of the yatra was taken during a meeting held by Jammu and Kashmir lieutenant governor GC Murmu last week.
The government had decided in February this year to hold the annual pilgrimage to the holy cave shrine.
The Amarnath Yatra was scheduled to begin from the twin tracks of Pahalgam in Anantnag district and Baltal in Ganderbal district on June 23. The pilgrimage was to end on August 3 on the day of Shravan Purnima (Raksha Bandhan).
Last year, the yatra was cut short following intelligence inputs of terror threats ahead of the Centre scrapping Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir. In 2018, the pilgrimage was held for 60 days.
Thousands of pilgrims either trek the traditional and longer 45km-long Pahalgam route or the shorter 14km-long Baltal route to the holy shrine every year.
The pilgrimage usually spans nearly a month and a half and takes place during July and August.
One of the holiest pilgrimages in Hinduism, the yatra attracts pilgrims from India as well as across the world. There have been terror attacks on the route of the yatra in the past. The last attack took place in 2017 on a bus from Gujarat in Anantnag district that left seven pilgrims dead.