Thousands of Hindus have begun their annual pilgrimage to a Himalayan cave shrine in Indian Kashmir amid tight security against possible Muslim militant attacks.
The pilgrims left Tuesday on a 16-kilometer risky uphill trip to the Amarnath shrine, located at an altitude of 4,000 meters.
The trek to the shrine of Lord Shiva - the god of destruction and regeneration - is one of the most important Hindu pilgrimages. More than 500,000 people are expected to take part this year. The pilgrimage will end on August 19th.
The holy trek has been the target of several attacks by guerrillas battling Indian rule in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir. Three years ago, nine Hindu pilgrims were killed in such attacks.