In Pictures: Pilgrims' progress in Kashmir - Al Jazeera English

In Pictures: Pilgrims' progress in Kashmir

About half a million Hindu devotees visit the Amarnath cave shrine every year, an arduous and often deadly trek.

Abid Bhat | | Arts & Culture, Religion, Asia, India, Kashmir

The annual Hindu 44-day pilgrimage to Amarnath cave in India-administered Kashmir began on June 28. About half a million Hindu devotees visit the cave shrine every year during the pilgrimage for a glimpse of the ice stalagmite which Hindus believe is a Shiva Lingam, the symbol of Lord Shiva.

The cave, which was discovered in 1850 by Muslim shepherd Buta Malik, is situated at 3,888 meters above the sea level.

There are two routes to the cave - one through Baltal-Sonamarg via central Kashmir and another from Pahalgam-Chandanwari in south Kashmir.

This year due to heavy snow, the pilgrimage from Pahalgam-Chandanwari route was delayed and began on July 2.

The route is a difficult challenge to manage as falling stones and landslides are common, while high altitude sickness is a danger, especially for older pilgrims. At least 33 pilgrims have died this year.

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