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Amarnath Yatra --- View Packages

The Amarnath Yatra is organised every year by the J &K Govt. during the month of sharavan ( July and August); the dates however , vary every year looking at the weather conditions and according to Purnima (Raksha Bandhan) in the month of Sharavan (Vikrama Samwat). Yatra to Baba Amarnath Holy Cave for which one has to trek a height of about 14,500 ft is full of thrill and joy .The feeling of divine which is always beneath ones' heart , burst out and one realises ‘Moksha’ as one attends the Cave and perform the prayer before the Shivlinga . Surrounded by beautiful valleys, mountains , one will always feel His presence on the paradise of the earth, the memory of which hardly vanishes with time A journey which will rediscover the nature and its love which is always inside but one has never felt.

Location

The holy shrine of Amarnath is situated 145 km from Srinagar, the capital of the North Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir. Located at an altitude of 3888 m above sea level, the Amarnath Cave is considered holy by Hindus. Every year a giant stalagmite or pillar of ice in the shape of a phallus, forms within this cave. This ice pillar is worshipped as a lingam - a symbol of Shiva - and thousands of pilgrims travel across the mountains to pray at the holy Amarnath cave shrine, in July and August every year.

Mythological Legend Behind Amarnath

In Hinduism the three most important Gods are Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver and Shiva the Destroyer. Shiva is mentioned in the Rig Veda - one of the earliest religious books of India and continues to be worshipped to the present day. Shiva is depicted as an ascetic clad in a deerskin. He carries a trident and is accompanied by his consort, the female deity Parvati, and his son, the elephant- headed God Ganesha.

According to legend, Shiva was asked by Parvati to tell her the secret of immortality. He resisted for a long while, however her repeated insistence led to his agreeing to reveal the secret to her. They traveled to an isolated location in the Himalayas, where no one could overhear the secret. On the way Shiva left Nandi the Bull, at Pahalgam (Bail gaon). He released the moon from his hair at Chandanwari. At Sheshnag peak, he released his snakes and Ganesh was left behind at Mahagunas Hill (Mahaganesh Hill). At Panchtarni, Shiva left behind the five elements (Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Sky) and accompanied by Parvati entered the cave. Here he meditated seated on his deer skin. To ensure that no living creature heard the secret he created a fire to destroy all life around him and then began to disclose the secret of immortality to Parvati. However a pigeon's egg hidden beneath Shiva's deerskin remined unharmed by the fire. A pair of pigeons, who overheard the secret of immortality, were born from this egg and even today pilgrims who visit the holy cave can see a pair of pigeons nesting here. Since the secret of immortality (Amar Katha) was revealed within this cave, it came to be known as Amarnath.

Amarnath Cave

The Amarnath cave is about 45 m (150 feet) high, 27 m (90 feet) long and faces south. Inside the cave, there are four to five ice formations resembling figures of various gods. According to the tradition, the largest one is worshipped as Amarnath or Shiva, one on the left side of the lingam is an ice formation worshipped as Ganesha, and on the right is an ice formation worshipped as Parvati. Inside the Amarnath cave is another small cave to the left of the image, from which a chalk-like substance is given out to pilgrims as Vibhuti or holy ash.

Amarnath Yatra Route

Around 150,000 pilgrims undertake the Amarnath Yatra every year. A priest carrying the Chari Mubarak or holy scepter of Shiva, leads the yatris up to the cave. There are 2 routes to the holy Amarnath Cave.

Route 1: Srinagar - Sonamarg - Baltal - Domail - Barari - Amarnath

Route 2: Srinagar - Pahalgam - Chandanwari - Pissu Top - Sheshnag - Panchtarni - Amarnath

Amarnath Yatra Route - 1

Jammu - Baltal (400km) : The distance between Jammu and Baltal can be covered by Taxis / Buses available at Tourist Reception Centre, J & K / bus stand or one can come to Srinagar by air and then reach Baltal by road. The road route followed is :

JAMMU - Udhampur - Kud - Patnitop - Ramban - Banihal - KaziGund - Anantnag - Srinagar - Sonamarg - Baltal : The journey from Jammu to Baltal which is about 400 kms. is full of beautiful Sites and one can experience of being in Heaven , a Paradise on earth. Passing through beautiful valleys, steeped mountains, one is sure of forgetting , oneself as a person ,for a while . A thrill, which is obviously there in every pilgrim gets enhanced while passing through this way owing to the Darshan of Holy Cave. In nutshell, a journey which can go down to your memory throughout the lifetime.

Baltal to Holy Cave :
From Baltal Holy Cave is just 14 Kms. This distance can be covered by foot / Ponies. However, Dandies are also available for handicapped and old aged pilgrims.

The width of the pebbled (kuchha) road is a bit narrow as compared to the Chandanwari-Holy Cave route, moreover , there are some steep rises & falls on the way , as compared to the Chandanwari route, but pilgrims can return back to base camp Baltal through this route only in one day.

Amarnath Yatra Route - 2

Though it is tough route still nearly one and a half lac pilgrims visit every year . The number of pilgrims is increasing every year. The journey from Jammu onward is by road and there are two routes . The details are given here.

1) JAMMU - PAHALGAM - HOLY CAVE : Jammu to Pahalgam (315 km) - The distance between Jammu to Pahalgam can be covered by Taxi / Buses. These are available at Tourist Reception Centre, J & K Govt., Raghunath Bazaar only early in the morning. But one can also come to Srinagar by air and then move to Pahalgam by road

PAHALGAM - HOLY CAVE.
1. PAHALGAM : It is 96 KM from Srinagar .This distance can be covered by car,bus or taxi. Pahalgam is known all over the world for its beauty. It is small town situated on the banks of Lidder River. It is surrounded by high mountains. All essentials can be bought here. Good Hotels are available for accommodation. However the arrangements for stay and Langar are also made by the Non Government Service Organisations.

2. CHANDANWARI : The distance from Pahalgam to Chandanwari is 16km. The route is good .It can be covered by road transport also. Mini buses are also available from Pahalgam to reach Chandanwari. The trail runs along the Lidder River . The route is scenic. Food is available here. Pilgrims camp at Pahalgam or Chandanwari on the first night .

3. PISSU TOP : As the Yatra proceed further from Chandanwari one climbs a height to reach Pissu Top. It is said that to be first to reach for darshan of Bhole Nath Shivshankar there was a war between Devtas and Rakshas . With the power of Shiv , devtas could kill the rakshas in such large number that the heap of their dead bodies has resulted in this high mountain.

4. SHESHNAG : This second day's trek of 12 kms from Chandanwari is through Pissu Top and spectacular, primeval countryside, and reaches Sheshnag - a mountain which derives its name from its Seven Peaks, resembling the heads of the mythical snake. The Journey to Sheshnag follows steep inclines on the right bank of a cascading stream and wild scenery untouched by civilisation. The second night's camp at Sheshnag overlooks the deep blue waters of Sheshnag lake, and glaciers beyond it. There are legends of love and revenge too associated with Sheshnag, and at the camp these are narrated by campfires . The stillness of a pine scented Himalayan night increases your inner joy. Yatris can take bath and get their fatigue alleviated. It is beautiful and scenic.

5.PANCHTARNI : From Sheshnag one has to climb steep height up across Mahagunas Pass at 4276 mtrs.(14000 ft) for 4.6 KM and then descending to the meadow lands of Panchtarni at a height of 3657 mtrs (12000 ft). The last camp enroute to the Holy Cave is made here on third day. Here one faces cold winds which cause the skin to crack . Hence cold cream / Vaseline are very useful for protection of skin. Some Yatris are also effected by deficiency of oxygen .Some may get the feeling of vomiting . So dry fruit like Allu Bukhara ,sour and sweet eatables like Lemon are useful to control these symptoms . The route to Mahagunas is full of rivulets , water falls , springs . Panchtarni is a very beautiful place in the feet of BHAIRAV MOUNT. Five Rivers flow here . It is said that the five rivers origanated from Lord Shiva's Hairs (Jataon). Pilgrims camp at Panchtarni on the 3rd night.

6. THE HOLY CAVE SHRI AMARNATH : The Holy Cave of Shri Amarnath is only 6 kms from Panchtarni. As there is no place to stay hence the pilgrims start in the early hours of the morning after their stay at Panchtarni. On the way to The Holy Cave one comes across the Sangam of Amravati and Panchtarni. Some pilgrims take bath at Amravati near holy cave to become pious before going for Darshan. Near the cave is found white soil known as Bhasam. It is the most beloved soil of Shiv ji . The pilgrims apply this Holy soil to their body and then go for Shivlingam Darshan. There are two smaller Shivlings one of Maa Parvati and other of Shri Ganesh. It may be noted that after having early Darshan of the Shivlinga at Holy Cave one can return to Panchtarni well in time the same day . Some pilgrims camp at Panchtarni while others continue their journey and reach back Sheshnag by the same evening

Where to Stay in Amarnath

Pilgrims who travel to the Holy Amarnath cave shrine can stay overnight at tented camps along the routes. Panchtarni, which is the last stop before the holy cave, is where pilgrims can stay at night and visit the Amarnath Cave during the day, before beginning their return journey.

How to Reach Amarnath

Amarnath is not directly linked by road or rail. The nearest airport is at Srinagar (145 km), which is connected to Delhi and other Indian cities. Jammu (300 km) is the common starting point for the Amarnath Yatra and is connected by road, rail and air to all major Indian cities. Reaching Amarnath is not an easy trek due to the difficult weather conditions and the steep climb up along the Himalayas. Porters, Ponies and Dandies (Chairs carried by porters) are available along the route.

Climate of Amarnath

The climate along the route to the Amarnath Cave is very cold. Though days may be sunny, rain or snowfall may occur at any time. The night temperature can drop to -5 Degrees Celcius.

Precations

• Every traveler has to be registered with the government before starting the Amarnath Yatra
• Only physically fit pilgrims should attempt the Amarnath Yatra.
• Acclimatize yourself for a day at the base camp before beginning the trek. The altitude can cause breathing problems while traveling.
• All pilgrims should carry adequate warm clothing.
• Pilgrims should carry nourishing food such as dry fruits, chocolates etc., to consume on the trip
• Comfortable walking shoes, a walking stick, torch, raincoat, windcheater and medical kit are essential supplies on the Amarnath Yatra
• Carry enough money to pay for any additional needs.
Pay heed to warning signs about falling rocks or avalanches. Only travel with an experienced guide, and with a group of pilgrims.