- Pilgrimage in Himalayas
- Amarnath Yatra
Location of This Shrine
The most important event during July/August, is Amarnath Yatra to the Holy Pilgrimage. This is an annual event when thousands of Hindus from different corners of the Globe visit Amarnath caves. The pilgrims trek from Pahalgam to these caves and worship the great ice Lingam. Amarnath is 145 km east of Srinagar in Kashmir.
There is an ice Shiva-linga here that changes size with the seasons, and also as the moon waxes and wanes it becomes bigger and smaller. On the full moon day the linga is about 6 ft high. Each year on the full moon day of July-August (Sravana) when the Siva-linga attains its maximum height there is a festival at this cave temple.
It is said that Lord Siva first appeared on this day. The site, India Travel Destinations accounts for tours to Amaranth Yatra, which is an isolated height yet, one of the most sought after centers of religious penance in India. It is located in a glacial valley at 4,175m (13,700 ft.). The cave is about 150 feet high and 90 feet long. Within the cave there are four or five ice formations that resemble the figures of different gods.
Myths of Amarnath Yatra
A prominent fair and festival in India, such as the Amaranth Yatra in India is one religious journey, which does not involve humans in its myth. Lord Shiva has been known to be the most perplexing of all deities, as knowledge concerning his origin is a nature kept secret. It is here that the significance of this fair and festival in Kashmir, India arises.
The story narrated by people about the discovery of this Holy Cave is of a Gujjar ( shepherd) Buta Malik.
He is given the credit of discovering this Holy Cave . Story goes like this , that a saint gave Buta Malik a bag full of Coal. On reaching his home when he opened the bag , to his utter surprise the bag was full of gold coins . This made him overwhelmed with joy. He ran to thank the Saint . But, what he found was that the Saint had disappeared .
Instead , he found The Holy Cave and Shiv Lingam there in . He announced the discovery of this to the Villagers. Then onwards this has become the sacred place of Pilgrimage.
It is understood to be the recollections of Lord Shiva as told to Goddess Parvati, which were overheard by a divine pair of pigeons, which forms the rationale behind the Amaranth Yatra in Kashmir, India. A traveling person called Mailk spotted the same divine pair of pigeons, which led to the initiation of these religious odysseys being undertaken every year to the far end of the Fidder valley. The chorus of the devotees and the accompanying fun and regalia of the climb reach a deafening crescendo as the trek progresses.
Visiting Season of Amarnath Yatra
The Amarnath Yatra is organised every year by the J &K Govt. during the month of Shravan ( July and August); the dates however , vary every year looking at the weather conditions and according to Purnima (Raksha Bandhan) in the month of Sharavan (Vikrama Samwat).
This year Yatra will be taken up from between the month of July to August. Surrounded by beautiful valleys, mountains , one will always feel His presence on the paradise of the earth, the memory of which hardly vanishes with time A journey which will rediscover the nature and its love which is always inside but one has never felt.
How to Reach There
Indian Airlines had daily flights to Delhi and Srinagar. To reach there (Holy Cave Amarnath) 145 km from Srinagar, and after this 90 km trekking There are also flights to Bombay, Calcutta, Chandigarh, and Leh.
The Shalimar Express departs from Delhi at 4.10 pm and arrives in Jammu at 7 am. There are other trains to and from Delhi. From Jammu there are direct trains to Bombay, Calcutta (Jammu Tawi Exp # 3152, daily, 6.15 pm, 46 ½ hr). Most buses leave between 6 and 7 am, in order to arrive before night.
A ticket to Srinagar should be booked in advance. There are buses to Delhi (14 hr), Amritsar (5hr), and Pathankot (3 hr). From Pathankot you can get a bus to Dharamshala and Dalhousie.
Route No -
(I) (Traditional Route)
Jammu– Pahalgam – Holy cave
Jammu to Pahalgam (315 km) –
The distance between Jammu to Pahalgam can be covered by Taxi / Buses. These are available at Tourist Reception Centre, J & K Govt., Raghunath Bazaar only early in the morning. But one can also come to Srinagar by air and then move to Pahalgam by road.
It is 96 KM from Srinagar .This distance can be covered by car,bus or taxi. Pahalgam is known all over the world for its beauty. It is small town situated on the banks of Lidder River. It is surrounded by high mountains. All essentials can be bought here. Good Hotels are available for accommodation. However the arrangements for stay and Langar are also made by the Non Government Service Organisations.
The distance from Pahalgam to Chandanwari is 16km. The route is good .It can be covered by road transport also. Mini buses are also available from Pahalgam to reach Chandanwari. The trail runs along the Lidder River . The route is scenic. Food is available here. Pilgrims camp at Pahalgam or Chandanwari on the first night .
Pissu Top :
As the Yatra proceed further from Chandanwari one climbs a height to reach Pissu Top. It is said that to be first to reach for darshan of Bhole Nath Shivshankar there was a war between Devtas and Rakshas . With the power of Shiv , devtas could kill the rakshas in such large number that the heap of their dead bodies has resulted in this high mountain.
This second day’s trek of 12 kms from Chandanwari is through Pissu Top and spectacular, primeval countryside, and reaches Sheshnag – a mountain which derives its name from its Seven Peaks, resembling the heads of the mythical snake. The Journey to Sheshnag follows steep inclines on the right bank of a cascading stream and wild scenery untouched by civilisation. The second night’s camp at Sheshnag overlooks the deep blue waters of Sheshnag lake, and glaciers beyond it. There are legends of love and revenge too associated with Sheshnag, and at the camp these are narrated by campfires . The stillness of a pine scented Himalayan night increases your inner joy. Yatris can take bath and get their fatigue alleviated. It is beautiful and scenic.
From Sheshnag one has to climb steep height up across Mahagunas Pass at 4276 mtrs.(14000 ft) for 4.6 KM and then descending to the meadow lands of Panchtarni at a height of 3657 mtrs (12000 ft). The last camp enroute to the Holy Cave is made here on third day. Here one faces cold winds which cause the skin to crack . Hence cold cream / Vaseline are very useful for protection of skin. Some Yatris are also effected by deficiency of oxygen .Some may get the feeling of vomiting . So dry fruit like Allu Bukhara ,sour and sweet eatables like Lemon are useful to control these symptoms . The route to Mahagunas is full of rivulets , water falls , springs . Panchtarni is a very beautiful place in the feet of BHAIRAV MOUNT. Five Rivers flow here . It is said that the five rivers origanated from Lord Shiva's Hairs (Jataon). Pilgrims camp at Panchtarni on the 3rd night.
The Holy Cave Shri Amarnath :
The Holy Cave of Shri Amarnath is only 6 kms from Panchtarni. As there is no place to stay hence the pilgrims start in the early hours of the morning after their stay at Panchtarni. On the way to The Holy Cave one comes across the Sangam of Amravati and Panchtarni. Some pilgrims take bath at Amravati near holy cave to become pious before going for Darshan. Near the cave is found white soil known as Bhasam. It is the most beloved soil of Shiv ji. The pilgrims apply this Holy soil to their body and then go for Shivlingam Darshan. There are two smaller Shivlings one of Maa Parvati and other of Shri Ganesh. It may be noted that after having early Darshan of the Shivlinga at Holy Cave one can return to Panchtarni well in time the same day . Some pilgrims camp at Panchtarni while others continue their journey and reach back Sheshnag by the same evening.
Route No - (II) (New Route)
Jammu – Baltal (400km) –
The distance between Jammu and Baltal can be covered by Taxis / Buses available at Tourist Reception Centre, J & K / bus stand or one can come to Srinagar by air and then reach Baltal by road.
The road route followed is :
Jammu – Udhampur – Kud - Patnitop – Ramban – Banihal – KaziGund – Anantnag – Srinagar - Sonamarg – Baltal.
The journey from Jammu to Baltal which is about 400 kms. is full of beautiful Sites and one can experience of being in Heaven , a Paradise on earth. Passing through beautiful valleys, steeped mountains, one is sure of forgetting , oneself as a person ,for a while . A thrill, which is obviously there in every pilgrim gets enhanced while passing through this way owing to the Darshan of Holy Cave. In nutshell, a journey which can go down to your memory throughout the lifetime.
This distance can be covered by foot / Ponies. However, Dandies are also available for handicapped and old aged pilgrims. The width of the pebbled (kuchha) road is a bit narrow as compared to the Chandanwari-Holy Cave route, moreover , there are some steep rises & falls on the way , as compared to the Chandanwari route, but pilgrims can return back to base camp Baltal through this route only in one day.