Amarnath is 145 km east of
Srinagar in Kashmir and is considered to be one of the major Hindu Dhams.
There is an ice Siva-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.
Amarnath is located in a
glacial valley at 3,888 m and is 45 km from Pahalgam and 141 km from
Srinagar. 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. The biggest figure is regarded as Siva (Amarnath). On the left side of
the linga is an ice formation called Ganesh, and on the right side is one of
Parvati and Bhairava.
The area is covered with snow from September to June. The cave opens only in
July and August. This is the rainy season, so pilgrims have to brave the
rain to get there. About 25,000 people make this pilgrimage each year. You
can also hire ponies and dandies for the trip. It is very crowded during the
annual Sravana festival. There is a yearly pilgrimage starting from Srinagar
that is led by the Chhari Saheb, the holy scepter.
Amarnath Yatra is one of the
most important holy pilgrimage held during July/ August. 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. Legend has it that Shiva recounted to Parvati the
secret of creation in a cave in Amarnath. Unknown to them, a pair of mating
doves eavesdropped on this conversation and having learned the secret, are
reborn again and again, and have made the cave their eternal abode. Many
pilgrims report seeing the doves-pair when they trek the arduous route to
pay obeisance before the ice-lingam (the phallic symbol of Shiva). This is
an event you certainly will talk about for the rest of your life.
The Legend of Amarnath
There is famous Rigvedic
Verse that says "Ekam Sat " that is "There is
one Being, the sages call Him by many names." The God (Parmeshwar) has
three deities who carry on the world .This is Known as Holy Trinity.
Brahma- the creator, Vishnu - the perpetuator of life and
Shiva (Mahesh ) -the purifier and perpetuator of good and destroyer of
evil. Rig Veda refer Shiva as Rudra as in its following verse .
"We Worship Tryambaka (Rudra)
, Who spread Fragrance and Increases Nourishment, May He release me, like
the cucumber from its stem, From Mortal Life, But not From Immorality."
(Rig Veda Mandal VII Sukta 59 and Mantra 12)
The Yajurveda describes Shiva as ascetic warrior Whose robe is of Deer Skin
and He carries Trishul. According to the verse Satyam, Shivam, Sundaram, the
life is described as having three facets Truth (Satyam), Good (Shivam) and
the Beautiful (Sundaram). Shiva is a living God. The most Sacred and ancient
books of India, the Rig Veda narrates His presence in the hymns. Vedic
myths, rituals and even astronomy testifies to His existence from the dawn
of time. The Mohenjodaro and Harappa findings confirm Shiva worship in the
ancient India. According to the older scriptures, He has three places of His
residence. One is Kailash Parvat another is Lohit Giri under which
Brahamaputra flows and third is Muzwan Parvat.
Significance of Amarnath Cave
The Legend about the
importance of Amarnath Cave is as follows :
This is the cave which was chosen by Bhole
Shankar for narrating the secrets of immortality and creation of
Universe to Maa Parvati ji. The story goes like this. Centuries ago Maa
Parvati asked Shiv ji to let her know why and when He started wearing
the beads of heads ( Mund Mala). Bhole Shankar replied when ever you are
born I add one more head in my beads. Maa Parvati said ," My Lord, my
body is destroyed every time and I die again and again, but you are
Immortal. Please let me know the secret of this." Bhole Shankar replied
that it is due to Amar Katha."
Maa Parvati insisted that she may be told
that secret. For long Shiva ji continued postponing . Finally on
consistent demand from Maa Parvati He made up his mind to tell the
immortal secret. He started for lonely place where no living being could
listen it. He choose Amarnath Cave. In preparation to that He left His
Nandi ( The Bull which He used to ride ) at Pahalgam (Bail gaon). At
Chandanwari He released Moon from his hairs (Jataon). At the banks of
Lake Sheshnag He released the snakes . He decided to leave his Son
Ganesha at Mahagunas Parvat (Mahaganesh Hill ). At Panjtarni, Shivji
left the Five Elements behind (Earth , Water, Air , Fire and Sky) which
make living being. He is the Lord of these elements. It is believed that
as a symbol of sacrificing the earthly world , Shivaji and Maa Parvati
had Tandav Dance. After leaving behind all these, Bhole Shankar enters
the Holy Amarnath Cave along with Parvati Maa.
Lord Shiva takes his Samadhi on the Deer
Skin and concentrate. To ensure that no living being is able to hear
the immortal tale, He created rudra named Kalagni and ordered
him to spread fire to eliminate every living thing in and around the
Holy Cave . After this He started narrating the secret of immortality
to Maa Parvati. But as a matter of chance one egg which was lying
beneath the Deer skin remained protected. It is believed to be non
living and more over it was protected by Shiva -Parvati Asan (Bed).
The pair of pigeons which were born out of this egg became immortal
having listened the secret of immortality (Amar Katha). Many pilgrims
report seeing the pair of pigeons when they trek the arduous route to
pay their obeisance before the Ice-Lingam (the phallic symbol of
General Information :-
Best Time to Visit:
The Amarnath Yatra is
organised every year by the Jammu & Kashmir government 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 Shravan (Vikrama Samwat).
Yatra to Baba Amarnath Holy Cave for which one has to trek a height of
about 14,500 ft is full of thrill and joy. The feeling of divine which
is always beneath ones' heart , burst out and one realises 'Moksha'
as one attends the Cave and perform the prayer before the Shivlinga.
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.
The climatic conditions
are very uncertain . Rain or snowfall may take place at any time or
place during the Yatra. It is to be particularly noted that abrupt
changes in temperature might occur. Sunny weather may turn into rain /
snow fall in a short time. The temperature may fall up to -5 ° C.
||Punjabi, Hindi and English
||Summer - Max: 34 Min: 15
Winter - Max: 18 Min: 0
Route Map for Amarnath Yatra
1) JAMMU PAHALGAM HOLY
CAVE. (Traditional Route)
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
1. PAHALGAM :
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 .
3. 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 days 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 nights 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.
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
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:
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.
Baltal Holy cave (414km)
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
Baltal to Holy Cave
From Baltal Holy Cave is just 14
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.
Shivlingama - Amarnath
How to Reach :
Air: The nearest
aerodrome is Srinagar. Srinagar is a beautiful valley having world famous
sights to see, such as Dal Lake, Nagina Lake, Shankaracharya Temple, Mughal
Gardens and what not. It is the most sought after tourist place. It is also
known as "Paradise on earth". Srinagar is summer capital of Jammu & Kashmir.
There are daily flights to Srinagar from Delhi and Jammu. On some week days
flights also pickup passengers from Chandigarh and Amritsar .
Rail: Jammu is the nearest Railway Station . Jammu is winter Capital
of Jammu & Kashmir. Jammu is a beautiful city and is also known as "CITY OF
TEMPLES". One may visit old temples such as Raghunath Temple , Mahadev
Mandir and other temples . It is well connected with all stations of
India.The various trains coming to Jammu are listed here below.
Road: Jammu and Srinagar are also connected through road. Buses and
Taxies are also available for this part of the journey .These can be hired
on daily as well as full tour basis.
Do's and Dont's in
Pilgrims are advised not to
pay more than the specified rates for either services or their provisions.
It is important to observe discipline on the trek and keep moving slowly and
steadily. Adhere to the instructions issued by the Yatra Officer from time
to time. Officials of the State Police, Health, Tourism, Food & Supplies and
other concerned Departments are deployed on duty to help the pilgrims. You
must also ensure that you are physically fit for the journey, and have
yourself medically examined. Remember that you have to cross Mahagunus pass
which is at an altitude of 14,000 feet above sea level.
Please ensure that ponies carrying your luggage and eatables remain with you
at all times. Also ensure that the Ponywalla, labourer or Dandiwalla is
properly registered and carries a token. You can get these alloted at fixed
rates at the base camps. Do not overstrain on steep gradients: do not relax
at points where there are warning notices; don't break traffic discipline or
try to overtake other on difficult stretches. Aged, infirm, ailing and
insufficiently clothed persons will not be permitted to proceed beyond
Please ensure that you are
physically and mentally fit to perform the journey as the Yatra involves
trekking at an altitude of 14, 000 ft. Have yourself medically examined and
certified fit for the journey and forward the medical certificate to the
registering authority designated for your area of residence.
Do carry sufficient heavy
woolens including sweaters, (full as well as half sleaved), drawers woolen
trousers, gloves, monkey caps etc. other items to be carried include wind
cheater, light rain coat, a sleeping bag or blankets or a set of bedding
items water proof tent, a torch with sufficient batteries, a walking stick
with proper hand grip. Ladies are advised not go on the journey in Saris,
instead pants or salwar suits with drawers should be used.
Do carry some eatable like
biscuits, candy, milk powder, sugar, assorted dry fruits, honey and some
tinned food with you. Also carry water bottle, plastic plate, tumbler,
Ration and firewood quota
has been especially arranged for you at all stations enroute, against
Make sure that the
ponywalla, the labourer, the dandywalla is properly registered and carries a
token. You can get these allotted at fixed rates by competent authority at
the same camp.
Do ensure that ponies
carrying your luggage and eatables etc. remain with you all time, if you let
them ramain behind you are likely to be unnecessarily inconvenienced.
Do observe discipline on
the trek and keep on moving slowly and steadily. Adhere to the instructions
issued by the Yatra Officer from time to time. The officials of the Police,
Tourism, Health, Food & Supplies and other Departments are there to help you
to perform the journey comfortably.
Do carry sufficient money
to pay your accommodation at Pehalgam and at other stations enroute to the
Holy Cave and for meeting other personal requirements.
All medical facilities
during the Yatra are free. However, do carry your personal medical kit also.
Carrying/use of alcohol
enroute the Yatra is strictly prohibited.
1. Do not overstrain on steep gradients.
2. Do not relax at points where there are warning notices.
3. Do not break traffic discipline or try to overtake others in difficult
stretches of the route.
4. Do not pay more than the prices/rates fixed for porters, ponies, dandies,
rations firewood, accommodation etc. Note:-
Aged, infirm, ailing, and insufficiently clothed persons will not be
permitted to proceed beyond Pehalgam. No Yatri will be allowed without a
Useful Tips for Yatra
The Yatra is organised by
the Jammu & Kashmir Govt., in the month of Shravan, and commences mainly
from Pahalgam on specified dates. In recent years the route from Baltal has
also been thrown open for the pilgrims to approach the holy Cave.
Dress: Pilgrims are advised to carry sufficient wollens such as
sweaters, drawers, wollen trousers, monkey cap etc. Other items could
include wind cheaters, rain coat, sleeping bag or blankets, umbrella,
waterproof boots/shoes, walking stick, torch etc. Ladies are advised not to
go on the trek in saris, instead pants or Salwar suits with drawers should
Medical Assistance: Medical posts manned by qualified doctors and
nursing staff are established enroute to cater to the needs of the pilgrims,
free of cost. However, pilgrims are advised to carry along any medicines
specifically prescribed for them.
Provisions: Essential rations are available at fair price rates from
the specially established Govt. Depots at Chandanwari, Sheshnag and
Panchtami, Numerous wayside tea-shops and small restaurants are set up by
private parties. However, pilgrims are advised to carry with them biscuits,
toffees, tinned food etc. to cater to their immediate needs. Firewood or gas
can be obtained at Chandanwari, Sheshnag (Wawajan), Panchtami and near the
Insurance: In view of the hazardous nature, pilgrims are advised to
insure themselves before proceeding on the Yatra.
Accommodation: Good tented accommodation with allied facilities are
set-up during the Yatra period. These are provided on the basis of payment
of fixed rates
Registration: Registration of pilgrims are undertaken about a month
ahead of the date fixed for commencement of Yatra.