Bengaluru: Devotees looking forward to the annual Amarnath Yatra take note. 

This year, the Yatra has been shrunk to 15 days, beginning on July 21 and ending on August 3.

The announcement was stated by the officials of the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) that manages the affairs of the Yatra to the cave shrine situated at 3,880 metres above the sea level in J&K's Anantnag district.
It is also interesting to note that that the 'Pratham Puja' for the Yatra was held in Jammu on Friday (5 June).

But as mentioned earlier, the duration of the Yatra has been cut short to 15 days, all thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. 

However, it should also be noted that except for sadhus, only pilgrims below 55 years of age will be allowed.

Moreover, it has been made mandatory for all those undertaking the Yatra to possess COVID negative certificates.

"The pilgrims will be cross-checked for the virus before they are allowed to undertake the Yatra on entry into J&K," an official of the SASB said.

All the pilgrims will have to register themselves online for the Yatra except the sadhus.

Another interesting thing to note is that Aarti performed at the cave shrine in morning and evening during the 15 days will be telecast live for devotees across the country.

Officials said because of the non-availability of local labourers and the difficulties in maintaining the track from the base camp to the cave shrine, Yatra 2020 will be performed by using helicopters from Baltal base camp in Ganderbal district to the cave shrine.
Yatra 2020 will only be undertaken through the north Kashmir Baltal route.

"No pilgrim will be allowed to undertake this year's Yatra through the Pahalgam route", officials said.

Yatra 2020 will conclude on August 3 on Shravan Purnima which coincides with the Raksha Bandhan festival.