The Amarnath Yatra holds a significant place in the hearts of all Hindu devotees. Annually, from June to August, the pilgrimage attracts a large number of worshippers. This period marks the only opportunity to access the Amarnath Cave. The Yatra coincides with the Shravani Mela, observed in the Hindu month of Shravan. The cave is situated approximately 141 km from Srinagar, at an elevation of 3,888m. The annual Amarnath Yatra commences with the Pratham Pujan, a ritual believed to bestow the blessings of Baba Amarnath upon those who perform it.
The journey covers a 46 km distance, testing the pilgrims' faith and conviction. The immense number of devotees visiting the site each year exemplifies the faith associated with it. Pilgrims believe that a visit to the cave absolves them of worldly sins, as it is the very place where Lord Shiva disclosed the secret of life and eternity to Goddess Parvati, according to legends.
Speaking of the Amarnath Cave, its legend, dating back 5000 years, is too extraordinary to describe adequately. It revolves around unwavering faith in divinity and the pursuit of immortality. The emergence of this cave from the water, centuries ago when the Kashmir valley was submerged, is a poignant tale of faith, belief, and religion. Sage Bhrigu discovered the cave when the water receded, unveiling the picturesque cave nestled amidst the snow-covered mountains.
Regarded as one of the most significant Hindu pilgrimage destinations in India, Amarnath is akin to a heavenly abode for devotees. The most remarkable feature of the cavern is the naturally formed ice structure known as the Shivalinga or Baba Barfani. Despite its peculiar nature, the ice formation is believed to occur naturally and is found in its unaltered state. Typically, this formation transpires during the month of July, coinciding with the commencement of the Amarnath Yatra.
Date & Venue of Amarnath Yatra
The dates for the annual Amarnath Yatra vary each year as they are determined by the Hindu calendar. The Yatra usually takes place between the months of June and August. The venue of the Amarnath Yatra is the holy Amarnath Cave, located approximately 141 kilometres from Srinagar, at an altitude of 3,888 metres.
History of Amarnath Yatra
One of the intriguing religious tales regarding the cave is connected to Lord Shiva and his beloved Parvati. It goes like this: Parvati was fascinated by Shiva's distinctive adornments, particularly his garland of heads. She inquired about the purpose behind possessing such an unusual ornament. Lord Shiva acknowledged her curiosity and unveiled the mystery. To Parvati's astonishment, the heads or beads symbolised her births. Every time she was reborn, he added a head to the garland.
Parvati was bewildered by his response and implored him to elucidate the ritual and why she was trapped in the cycle of birth and death. Little did she know, she had asked a question pertaining to the secret of immortality or moksha, a cryptic tale guarded fiercely by the Adiyogi himself. In order to reveal this mystery to Parvati, Shiva ventured into the woods to find a secluded space, eventually discovering the Amarnath Cave, an ideal location.
According to religious legends, on his way to the cave, Shiva relinquished all his possessions to maintain secrecy. Along the path to the cave, he first left Nandi at Pahalgam. Next, he parted with the moon at Chandanwari and released his snakes at Sheshnag. Lord Ganesha was left behind at the Mahagun Parvat, while at Panjtarni, he abandoned the five elements or panch Bhoot - Earth, Water, Air, Fire, and Sky. These places have now become renowned pilgrimage sites.
Major attractions of Amarnath Yatra
Majestic Spiritual Journey - The route to the cave forms a part of a 5-day journey. The initial halt is at Pahalgam, marking the commencement of the Amarnath Yatra. Along the way, there are several significant stops, each holding its own religious importance. The Chandanwari base camp serves as the starting point of the pilgrimage, with various overnight halts along the path. Pissu Top, Sheshnag Lake, and Panchtarni are notable locations on the old route. On the alternative route, the journey begins at Sonamarg, leading to Baltal, Domail, Barari, and finally, Amarnath. It is believed that the old route is the one taken by Lord Shiva.
Scenic Views - One of the major advantages of embarking on a long trek is the breathtaking scenic view that devotees have the opportunity to enjoy. It is recommended that pilgrims choose the Amarnath route, as it has a gradual incline and is considerably wider compared to the Baltal trek. The entire path is adorned with beautiful ponies and, needless to say, awe-inspiring snow-capped peaks.
Food Halls - As you trek along the Amarnath Yatra, delectable food awaits you! Numerous government-provided facilities and non-profit organizations set up food stalls along the route. Additionally, resting camps are established for pilgrims along the way.
Helicopter Ride - There is nothing better than witnessing the picturesque scenery of nature from a bird's-eye view. The helicopter ride offers both comfort and excitement simultaneously. Helicopter services are available from both Pahalgam and Baltal.
How to Reach Amarnath
Amarnath is a spiritual getaway and a famous pilgrimage site where lakhs of devotees flock every year for the darshan of Mahadev. Here is how you can reach here by the following means of transportation.
Nearest Major City. Srinagar
Nearest Airport. Sheikh-ul-Alam International Airport
Nearest Railway Station. Jammu Tawi Railway Station
Distance from Srinagar. 90 Km
The closest airport to Amarnath is Sheikh-ul-Alam International Airport, also known as Srinagar Airport. It has good connectivity with other cities in India. If you prefer a comfortable mode of travel, your best option is to book a flight to Srinagar. Upon arrival at the airport, you will need to reach Pahalgam, the starting point of the holy journey (yatra). You can choose to travel by bus or taxi. Alternatively, if it fits your budget, you can also hire a helicopter service to land at Panjtarni and reach Pahalgam from there.
Distance from Sheikh-ul-Alam International Airport. 89.6 Km
You will need to deboard at the Jammu Tawi Railway Station. It is fairly well-connected with other Indian cities. Once you get off, then take a cab or a bus to reach Baltal or Pahalgam. Or alternatively, you can also hire a pony or even a helicopter and land at Panjtarni.
Distance from Jammu Tawi Railway Station. 153 Km
Travelling to Amarnath by road is not advisable due to the challenging terrain. To reach there by road, you would need to first travel to Jammu, then to Srinagar, and from there proceed to Baltal or Pahalgam. Alternatively, from Srinagar, you can opt to hire a helicopter and fly directly to Panjtarni.
Distance from Srinagar: Approximately 90 km away from Pahalgam.
Distance from Anantnag: Around 45 km away from Pahalgam.
Distance from Jammu: Approximately 280 km away from Pahalgam.
Distance from Amritsar: Around 400 km away from Pahalgam.
Distance from Chandigarh: Approximately 440 km away from Pahalgam.
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Frequently Asked Questions About Amarnath Yatra
Q1. What is the best time to undertake the Amarnath Yatra? A1. The best time for the Amarnath Yatra is between the months of June and August.
Q2. How long does the Amarnath Yatra usually take? A2. The Amarnath Yatra typically spans around 5 to 6 days.
Q3. What are the different routes to reach Amarnath? A3. There are two main routes: Pahalgam route and Baltal route, each offering its own advantages.
Q4. Is prior registration required for the Amarnath Yatra? A4. Yes, pilgrims are required to register in advance through the designated authorities before undertaking the Amarnath Yatra.
Q5. Are there medical facilities available during the Amarnath Yatra? A5. Yes, medical facilities and camps are set up along the yatra route to cater to the pilgrims' healthcare needs.