Srinagar, Indian-administered Kashmir – The Srinagar-Jammu highway in Indian-administered Kashmir is lined with bunkers and checkpoints.
Security arrangements for the annual Amarnath Yatra, which takes place in the lap of Himalayas every summer, are high this year.
Hundreds and thousands of devotees will make the days-long pilgrimage to the Amarnath cave, one of Hinduism’s holiest sites, at 12,700 feet above sea level.
Festivities last for two months, ending late August.
As temperatures rise in the cave, an ice stalagmite forms. It is known as Shiv Linga, an iconic representation of Hindu deity Shiva.
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The 350km route passes jagged mountains, pastures, and forests.
The shrine is located in the disputed region between India and Pakistan. Since 1947, the rival neighbours have fought several wars over Kashmir.
A heavy military presence along the route is normal. But this year is different. The level of security is unprecedented.
Last year, fighters attacked a tourist bus in the Anantnag district of south Kashmir, killing eight people and injuring more than 10.
The bus had become separated from a convoy of vehicles carrying pilgrims that was protected by security forces.
It was a rare attack – the pilgrimage is relatively spared from the region’s violence.
Before last year, the worst assault came in 2000, when 30 people, most of them Hindus, were killed.
The Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba was blamed for both attacks.