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About 200,000 Hindus make two-month pilgrimage through Kashmiri Mountains

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A handicapped Hindu makes his pilgrimage to the sacred Amarnath Caves, one of the most revered of Hindu shrines on June 29 near Baltal, India. More than 5,000 Hindu devotees, braving sub-zero temperatures, began the hike over glaciers and along paths overhanging gorges to reach the sacred Amarnath cave housing an ice stalagmite, a stylized phallus worshiped by Hindus as a symbol of the god Shiva.

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Hindu pilgrims make their pilgrimage to the sacred Amarnath Caves on June 29. The Kashmiri Mountains near Srinagar are 12,500 feet above sea level. About 200,000 Hindu pilgrims are expected to take part in this year's two-month pilgrimage, during which large numbers of Indian paramilitary soldiers and policemen are being deployed along the route as protection from attacks by militants who have been fighting for independence of Kashmir since 1989.

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A Sadhu, or Hindu holy man, smokes a traditional chillam (pipe) filled with opium as he makes his pilgrimage to the sacred Amarnath Caves on June 29.

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A Hindu worships in front of an ice stalagmite called a Shiva Lingam.

Yawar Nazir / Getty Images

Hindu pilgrims congregate in a camp during their pilgrimage on June 29.

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