A record number of about 1.6 lakh devotees paid their obeisance at the 3,880-m-high holy cave shrine of Amarnath in the first five days of the yatra, official sources said.
Nearly 1.60 lakh pilgrims visited the cave shrine and had 'darshan' (glimpse) of the naturally formed ice-lingam of Lord Shiva, which is in full bloom till last evening, they said.
This is for the first time that such a heavy number of devotees visited the shrine in first five days. An average 32,000 devotees are visiting the cave shrine from the twin routes of Pahalgam and Baltal daily.
Heavy rush of pilgrims to join the yatra has taken the administration and Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board by surprise and prompted authorities to review security arrangements for the two-month yatra, the sources said.
Although only two lakh pilgrims have registered themselves, the unprecedented and unexpected rush of the pilgrims has thrown all arrangements made for them out of gear, sources said, adding majority of the pilgrims who offered their prayers at the cave shrine were unregistered and posed as tourists to reach the base camps of Nunwan on the traditional 46-km Pahalgam route.
Heavy influx of pilgrims at Nunwan and Baltal had forced the authorities to start the yatra a day ahead of the official date, the sources said.
They said the guidelines issued by authorities managing the yatra at the two base camps including clear cut instructions not to allow unregistered pilgrims had no effect so far.