Amarnath Yatra holds a special place in the heart of every Hindu devotee. Every year, between the months of June and August, the yatra attracts lakhs of pilgrims.
This is also the only time in the year when the Amarnath Cave is accessible. The Yatra takes place during Shravani Mela, which falls in Shravan month according to the Hindu calendar. The cave is located about 141 km from Srinagar at an altitude of 3,888m.
The yearly Amarnath Yatra starts with Pratham Pujan. It is said that by doing this Puja, people get the blessings of Baba Amarnath.
The journey is a 46 km sojourn that takes pilgrims to a yatra of self-testing the strength of their belief. The faith associated with the place is evident by the sheer number of devotees that throng the site every year. The devotees believe that a visit to the place absolves one of all the worldly sins as, according to the legends, this is the very place where Lord Shiva revealed the secret of life and eternity to Goddess Parvati.
Talking about the Amarnath Cave, the legend of this 5000-year-old cave is too mighty for words. It is about unshakeable faith in divinity and the quest for immortality. There lies a poignant tale of faith, belief, and religion behind the Amarnath Cave which is, said to have emerged out of the water, centuries ago when the valley of Kashmir was still submerged underwater.
Sage Bhrigu was the one who discovered the cave when the water subsided, revealing the picturesque cave in the middle of the snow-laden mountains.
Considered one of the most important Hindu pilgrimage sites in India, Amarnath is no less than a heaven for devotees. The most peculiar feature of the grotto is the ice structure called the Shivalinga or Baba Barfani.
As bizarre as it seems, ice formation is believed to be a natural phenomenon and is found in its natural state. The formation occurs typically during the month of July, the time when the Amarnath Yatra begins.
One of the interesting religious tales about the cave is related to Lord Shiva and his beloved Parvati. It goes like this, Parvati was intrigued by Shiva’s detailed accessories - one of the most prominent ones being his garland of heads. She asked him about the purpose of possessing such a bizarre ornament.
Lord Shiva took note of her inquisitiveness and unveiled the mystery. To Parvati’s surprise, the heads or the beads represent her birth. And every time she is born, he adds a header to the garland.
Parvati was baffled by his answer and asked him to explain the ritual to him and why she was trapped in the cycle of birth and death. Little did she know, she had asked a question associated with the secret of immortality or moksha, a fiercely guarded cryptic tale of the Adiyogi himself. To open up about the mystery to Parvati, Shiva ventured into the woods to find a secluded space. He then found the Amarnath Cave, a perfect spot.
As per the religious legends, on his way to the cave, Shiva got rid of all his belongings to maintain secrecy. On the course to the cave, he first let go of Nandi at Pahalgam. Next, he left the moon at Chandanwari and released his snakes at Sheshnag. While Lord Ganesha was left at the Mahagun Parvat, it was at Panjtarni where he left the five elements or panch Bhoot - Earth, Water, Air, Fire, and Sky. All these places are now popular pilgrimage sites.
The route towards the cave is a part of a 5-day journey. The first stop is at Pahalgam from where the Amarnath Yatra begins. En route to the cave, there are plenty of stoppages, each carrying a religious significance of its own. Chandanwari base camp is the starting point of the yatra and on the way, there are various halts during the nights. Pissu Top, Sheshnag Lake, and Panchtarni being the prominent ones on the old route. The other route starts at Sonamarg and takes you to Baltal, Domail, and Barari, and then Amarnath. The old route is said to be the one which Lord Shiva took.
One of the great upsides of having a long trek is the picturesque view devotees get to enjoy. It is advised that pilgrims take the Amarnath route since it slopes gradually and is substantially wider than the Baltal trek. The whole way is crowded with beautiful ponies and, needless to say, amazingly towering snow-capped hills.
As you trek along your way on Amarnath Yatra, there awaits delicious food for you! Many government-provided facilities, as well as non-profit organizations, install food stalls along the route. There are also resting camps established for the pilgrims along the way.
There is nothing better than seeing the most picturesque scenery of nature from a bird’s view. The helicopter ride is both comfortable and exciting at the same time. The helicopter services are available from Pahalgam and Baltal.
Amarnath is a spiritual getaway and a famous pilgrimage site where lakhs of devotees flock every year for the darshan of Mahadev. It is located at an approximate distance of 631, 1,702, 1,081, and 2,370 km from Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Bengaluru respectively. Here is how you can reach here by the following means of transportation.
Sheikh-ul-Alam International Airport, also known as Srinagar Airport is the nearest aerodrome. It is fairly well-connected with other Indian cities. So, if you are looking for a comfortable mode of travel, then your best bet would be to book a flight to Srinagar. Once you get off the airport, you will need to reach Pahalgam from where the holy journey (yatra) commences. To reach here, you will need to take a bus or a cab. Or if within budget, you can also hire a helicopter service and land at Panjtarni to reach there.
List of flights from different Indian cities to Srinagar
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.
It is not recommended to travel to Amarnath by road due to its difficult terrain. To reach here by road, you will first need to travel to Jammu, then to Srinagar, and then from there go to Baltal or Pahalgam. From Srinagar, you can hire a helicopter and land in Panjtarni.
You can plan your trip and create your own route to the city with Adotrip’s technically driven circuit planner. Click here.