Area Size : N/A Sq. Km.Population : 30000 Millions.
Popular Languages : Hindi, Urdu, & English
The Amarnath caves are one of the most famous shrines in Hinduism, dedicated to the god Shiva, located in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. The shrine is claimed to be over 5,000 years old and forms an important part of ancient Hindu mythology.
Inside the main Amarnath cave lies an ice stalagmite resembling the Shiva Linga, which waxes during May to August and gradually wanes thereafter.This lingam is said to grow and shrink with the phases of the moon, reaching its height during the summer festival.According to Hindu mythology, this is the cave where Shiva explained the secret of life and eternity to his divine consort Parvati.There are two other ice formations representing Parvati and Shiva's son, Ganesha.
The cave is situated at an altitude of 3,888 m (12,760 ft),about 141 km (88 mi) from Srinagar, the capital of Jammu and Kashmir. The Central Reserve Police Force, Indian Army and Indian Paramilitary Forces maintain a strong presence in the region due to concerns of security and hence prior permission is needed from the Government of India before making a pilgrimage (Note: as of June 2009, no permit was necessary to go to the cave, even for foreigners).
It is a popular pilgrimage destination for Hindus - about 400,000 people visit during the 45-day season around the festival of Shravani Mela in July-August, coinciding with the Hindu holy month of Shravan.
Devotees generally take the 42 km (26 mi) pilgrimage on foot from the town of Pahalgam, about 96 km (60 mi) from Srinagar, and cover the journey in four to five days. There are two alternate routes to the temple: the longer and more traditional path from Srinagar, and the shorter route from the town of Baltal. Some devotees, particularly the elderly, also ride on horse-back to make the journey.
Situated in a narrow gorge at the farther end of Lidder valley, Amarnath stands at 3888 mtrs and 46 Kms from Pahalgam and 141 Kms from Srinagar. Though the original pilgrimage subscribe that Yatra be undertaken from Srinagar , the more common practice is to begin journey from Chandanwari and cover the distance to Amarnath and back in 5 days. Pahalgam is 96 Kms from Srinagar. the trek from Chandanwari to Cave is on an ancient peregerine route. pilgrims camp at Pahalgam or Chandanwari on the first night out.
The first day's trek of 12 Kms from Chandanwari is through spectacular primeval country side and the main centre of attraction is Sheshnag a mountain which derves its name from seven peaks resembling the head of mythical snake. A cascading stream accompanies you with wild scenery untouched by modern civilzation. The second night camp at Wavjan overlooks the deep blue waters of Sheshnag lake and glaciers beyond it. The tales of love and revenge associated with Sheshnag are recounted by campfires to the stillnes of pine scented Himalyan night.
The second day 12 km trek steadily gains height winding across Mahagunas Pass at 4600 mtrs and then descendeing to the meadow land of Panchtarni the last camp enroute to Amarnath Cave.
From Panchtarni to Amarnath the distance is 6kms and an early morning start is recommended for there is long queue awaitning entry at the cave. The same day devotees after darshans can return to Panchtarni in time for lunch and continue upto Sheshnag for night halt.
For those who journey with faith it is a rewarding experience.
From Baltal :
The second approach to Amarnath is from Sonamarg via Baltal alt. 3000 mtrs. . Sonamarg is situated on Srinagar-Leh road north east from Srinagar. About 15 kms ahead lies Baltal which is charming little valley lying in the foothills of Zojila Pass. The holy cave is just a days journey from here. At domail 2 kms from Baltal free langar(community Kitchen) facility is available. The trek from here is very steep and therefore needs great caution and care. Some teastalls are available at Brarimarg and Sangam top. Several snow bridges on the fast flwing streams are to be crossed
and during rains the road becomes slippery. At sangam top the road meets Pahalgam route. At Baltal Ponies/Dandies/Pack ponies /porters are available on Govt. approved rates.
The nearest Airport is away in Badgam Distt. This Airport is connected with major cities of India. The nearest Rail Head is at Jammu which is 300 Kms away and from there National Highway NH1A connects the Kashmir valley with country.Every sort of transport to suit every budget from Buses to Taxis ply on this Highway. It Takes around 10 to 12 hours to cross this mountaineous road which crosses some beautiful spots andthe famous Jawahar Tunnel linking Kashmir Valley with country.
Do's and Don'ts for Pilgrims (Yatries) :
1. Please ensure that you are physically and mentally fit to perform the journey as the Yatra involves trekking at an altitude of 14000ft. Get yourself medically examined and certified fit for the journey and forward the certificate to the registerin authority designated for your area of residence.
2. Do carry sufficient heavy wollens including sweaters, wollen thermal body warmers, trousers, monkey caps, muffelers and any other cold fighting apparels. Other items needed to be carried are wind cheaters,raincoats, sleeping bags, blankets,water proof shoes with sufficient grips,small water proof tents, torch with sufficient batteries and walking sticks. Ladies are advised to avoid sarees. Instead body hussging clothing like salwar Kamiz, pants etc are advised.
3. Carry dry eatable stocks with you viz. biscuits, sugar,candies, chocolates, milk powder, assorted dry fruits,pickles, honey,lemons and tinned foods and other items suiting your palates. Water bottle, spoons,tumblers,saucers and plates may also be carried.
4. Ration and firewood quota is also made available enroute and can be purchased.
5. Registered ponywalla,porter,dandyman may only be hired. They are available for prefixed tarrifs.
6. Ponies carrying luggage and eatables should remain with you all the time. At no point of time should you get out of touch with them. This is to avoid inconvinience.
7. Move slowly and steadily as this is a ardous pilgrimage and maintain discipline. Instructions of Yatra officer should be adhered to.Various officials are deployed by the Govt. for your help.
8. Carry sufficient money to pay for your accomodation at Pahalgam and meeting your other requirements.
9. All medical facilities during yatra are free. It is advisable to carry your own personal medical kit and First aid box.
10. Alcohol is strictly prohibited. 11. Don't overstarin on steep gradients. 12. Don't realx at places where warning signes are fixed. 13. Don't break traffic discipline. 14. Do not pay more to any of the hired services for which the prices are fixed. 15. Yatries without registration card, Aged,infirm, ailing and ill clad persons will not be allowed to proceed beyond Pahalgam and Baltal.