Amarnath Yatra – Story, Route, Facilities and Useful Tips
The Amarnath Yatra trips through the mountains of south Kashmir Himalayas to the Holy Cave Shrine of Shri Amarnathji is made available only in the months of summer (July – August) to pay obeisance, when Shri Amarnathji has the devout flock, where the image of Lord Shiva, in the form of a Lingam, is formed naturally of ice – stalagmite, and which waxes and wanes with the moon.
Shri Amarnath Yatra is for a specific period/ duration and this year Shri Amarnath Yatra 2016 will start from 2nd July, 2016 and shall conclude on Raksha Bandan i.e. on 18th August 2016.
Introduction to Amarnath Yatra
Amarnath Cave is a shrine of Hindus which is located in Jammu and Kashmir. It is 141 km from the Srinagar and is situated at an altitude of 3888 m. It can be reached through the Pahalgam town and is considered one of the most holiest shrines in India. This place is surrounded by the mountains. It is almost covered with the snow whole year except the few months in summers, when it is open for the Yatra. Many of the devotees come here from all over the country to see the ice stalagmite which is formed inside the holy cave.
The stalagmite is formed inside the cave due to the freezing of the water drops which falls from the cave’s roof. It is considered as the Shiv Linga by the people. People come here to worship that Lingaa. In summers, when the snow melts down, the Yatra is then started for the people in ending June or in the start of July. It is believed that the growing and shrinking of the lingam depends upon the phases of the moon reaching its height. There are also two more ice formations in the cave, which represents Maa Parvati & Lord Ganesha.
#Story of Amarnath
The Amarnath Cave has a special significance in the Hindu religion. As per legend, Lord Shiva had chosen this cave to describe the secrets of immortality and formation of the universe to Maa Parvati.
Maa parvati asked Lord shiva to narrate her the story of Immortality.
To narrate the story, lord shiva started looking for the absolutely lonely place, so that no living being coulee hear that ‘Amar Katha’ except Maa parvati. He then found the Amarnath cave. He then started narrating the story of immortality to Maa Parvati. But in spite of all these, a egg remained protected under the deer skin on which the Lord was sitting. But it was considered as non-living. A pair of pigeons were born out of that egg and supposedly became immortal. Pilgrims can still see the pigeon pair while going towards the Amarnath Cave.
#Discovery of the cave
It is believed that the cave was founded somewhere in the middle ages. But then, it was forgotten by the people since a shepherd again discovered it in 15th century.
ROUTE OF AMARNATH CAVE
The devotees can reach the Srinagar by road or by air. Then they can go to pahalgam by road. The State Road Transport Cooperation provide regular service to Pahalgam and baltal. One can also hire Private Taxis.
The latter journey takes 5 days approximately. The Northen route is very much short and is just 16 km long but it is very difficult to climb. It starts from the Baltal and goes through Domial, Barrari and Sangam in order to reach the cave.
From Pahalgam, devotees have to reach Chandanwari and this distance can also be covered by using road transport. Pilgrims can took a camp at Pahalgam or Chandanwari. It is believed that the Lord Shiva left his Bull (Nandi) in Pahalgam while going to the cave.
From Chandanwari, pilgrims climb the height to reach Pissu Top that is believed to be formed by the dead bodies of Rakshas who were killed by Lord Shiva. To reach at Sheshnag, pilgrims follow a steep incline.
From Sheshnag one has to cover the steep height of 4.6 km to reach Panchtarni. This is the last camp to the Holy Amarnath Cave. Cold winds might lead to cracks on skin. Also at such an altitude one feels short of oxygen.
From Panchtarni, the Amarnath Cave is located at a distance of just 6 km. As there is no place to stay, so pilgrims have to start their journey early in the morning so that you can come back to the base camp on time.
The Beginning of the “Amarnath Yatra” is marked by ‘Pratham Pujan’ to invoke the Lord Shiva’s blessings. Pilgrims visits this holy site during 45 days season which comes around the Shravani Mela in months of July-August. According to a report, in 2011, the Amarnath cave was visited by the record 634,000 persons during the Yatra.
FACILITIES in Amarnath Yatra
Many facilities are provided for the pilgrims in the route of the cave. Many Non-profittable organisations sets up many free food stalls and tents for resting which is also.known as pandals for the pilgrims. One can see food stalls and langars at almost every camp during the Yatra. Hundereds of tents are also available on rent for night’s stay which are erected by the locals. Helicopter service is also available from.the base camp to panjtharni. Also, a lot of security is provided for the safety of pilgrims. Thousands of central and state police personnels are deployed for the security.
USEFUL INFORMATION AND TIPS
- A Yatri duly registered by the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) for the Yatra 2012, having a valid Yatra Permit issued by the SASB will be entitled to an insurance cover of Rs. 1 lac in case of death due to accident while undertaking the Yatra.
- One should get Registered a month before starting the Yatra.
- Start preparing for the Yatra by maintaing your fitness level. I would recommend you to go for 4~5 km of morning and evening walk, at at-least a month prior to Yatra.
- Carry some cold cream/Vaseline/sunscreen to protect your hands /face against sunburn etc.
- Do not use slippers. Only us trekking shoes during yatra because there are steep rises and falls on the route.