Amarnath cave is a Hindu shrine located in Jammu and Kashmir, at an altitude of 3,888 m, about 140 Km from Srinagar, capital of Jammu and Kashmir and reached through Pahalgam town ( 96km from Shrinagar). The shrine is one of the holiest shrines in Hinduism. The cave is surrounded by snowy mountains. The cave itself is covered with snow most of the year except for a short period of time in summer when it is open for pilgrims. Thousands of Hindu devotees make an annual pilgrimage to the Amarnath cave.
Inside the 40 m (130 ft) high Amarnath cave, the stalagmite is formed due to freezing of water drops that fall from the roof of the cave on to the floor and grows up vertically from the cave floor. It is considered to be a Shiva Linga by Hindus. During May to August, as snow melts above the cave and the resultant water seeps into the rocks that form the cave.
According to Hindu mythology, It is believed that Lord Shiva left Nandi, The Bull, at Pahalgam (Bail Gaon). At Chandanwari, he released the Moon from his hair (Jataon). On the banks of Lake Sheshnag, he released his snakes. At Mahagunas Parvat (Mahaganesh Mountain), he left his son Lord Ganesha. At Panjtarni, Lord Shiva left behind the five elements – Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Sky. As a symbol of sacrificing the earthly world, Lord Shiva performed the Tandava Dance. Then, finally, Lord Shiva entered the Holy Amarnath Cave along with Parvathi
Route to Amarnath Yatra
There are two route to reach Amarnathji one is via Sonamarg and other is via Pahalgam:
Baltal route via Sonamarg In recent times this route also become very popular because of its short distance. It is just about 16 km long, but has a very steep gradient and is quite difficult to climb. It starts from Baltal and passes through Domial, Barari, and Sangam to reach the cave. The northern route is along the Amarnath valley and all along the route one can see the river Amaravathy (It is more like a tributary of Chenab) which originates from Amarnath Glacier.
The base points for the pilgrim’s trek are picturesque Pahalgam and Sonamarg, a large tented township springs up to accommodate the pilgrims at both these locations. The conduct of the yatra is a gigantic task in which the Jammu & Kashmir State Government takes the assistance of the security departments for providing security and helping to keep the route open. All intermediate halting places have the same kind of facilities as are provided at Pahalgam and Baltal. These days Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) conducts and coordinates all the pilgrimage related activities.
Shri Amarnath Yatra is organised in the month of Shravan and commences from Pahalgam & Baltal on specified dates. visit on Amarnathji Yatra:
Points to keep in mind:
Dress: Pilgrims are advised to carry sufficient woolens clothes that can protect you from cold, such as sweaters, wind cheaters, rain coat, sleeping bag or blankets, umbrella, waterproof boots/shoes, walking stick, torch etc. Ladies are advised not to go on the trek in saris, instead Salwar suits should be used.
Medical Assistance: Medical posts manned by qualified doctors and nursing staff are established to cater to the needs of the pilgrims, free of cost. However, pilgrims are advised to carry along any medicines specifically prescribed for them.
Provisions: Essential rations are available at fair price rates from the specially established Govt. Depots at Chandanwari, Sheshnag and Panchtami, Numerous wayside tea-shops and small restaurants are set up by private parties.
Insurance: In view of the hazardous nature, pilgrims are advised to insure themselves before proceeding on the Yatra. In recent years SASB has been providing Accident Insurance cover to the Registered Yatris (Pilgrims).
Accommodation: Good tented accommodation with allied facilities are set-up during the Yatra period. These are provided on the basis of payment of rates fixed by the authorities.
Registration: Registration of pilgrims are undertaken usually a month ahead of the date fixed for commencement of Yatra. The dates are notified through press advertisements. As per rules no Yatri is allowed to proceed on the journey without a Registration Card/ Permit. The process of Registration for Yatris (Pilgrims) of Shri Amarnathji Yatra 2017 will commence according to the dates set by the Shrine Board, simultaneously for both the Baltal and Chandanwari routes, through designated Bank Branches all over the country.
You must also ensure that you are physically fit for the journey, and have yourself medically examined. Remember that you have to cross Mahagunus pass which is at an altitude of 14,000 feet above sea level. It is now essential for the applicant Yatri to submit Compulsory Health Certificate while seeking registration for this year’s Shri Amarnathji Yatra.
To reach base station The State Road Transport Corporation and Private Transport Operators provide the regular services from Jammu to Pahalgam and Baltal. Also privately hired taxis are available from Jammu & Kashmir.
En route the cave, various non-profit organizations set up food supply and resting tents called pandals which are available for free to the pilgrims. Near the shrine, hundreds of tents which are erected by locals can be hired for a night’s stay. Helicopter services from base camp to Panjtarni (6 km from the cave) are also available from various private operators.
Every year, thousands of central police and state police personnel are deployed to provide security to pilgrims from potential terror threats. The forces position at various halts and also in the perimeter of the shrine
Officially, the Yatra is organised by the State Government in collaboration with the Shree Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB). The Government agencies provide necessary facilities all along the route during the Yatra period, which includes provision of ponies, supply of power, telecommunication facilities, firewood and setting up of fair price shops.