Protest strikes, curfews and violent demonstrations have paralysed Muslim-majority Kashmir valley over the killing of 15 civilians in the past month and the deaths blamed on government forces.
Thousands of police and paramilitary soldiers are struggling to control near daily street protests that have grown into bigger anti-India demonstrations recently.
But tens of thousands of Hindu pilgrims chanting hymns are daily trudging to a cave shrine where they worship a naturally formed ice stalagmite as a symbol of Lord Shiva, the god of destruction and one of the most revered Hindu deities.
Undeterred by violence in Kashmir, over 153,000 pilgrims have so far paid obeisance at Amarnath shrine, one of the holiest in Hinduism.
Last week, New Delhi said intelligence inputs indicate that militants may use the unrest in the Kashmir valley to target pilgrims -- triggering a red alert from the security agencies.