Amarnath Yatra- The Holy Shrine in Jammu & Kashmir

Amarnath Yatra, as the name suggests, is the journey towards the famous Amarnath Cave (temple). Dedicated to Lord Shiva, Amarnath Cave is one of the most significant Hindu shrines located in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. This Cave is situated at an altitude of 3, 888 meters above the sea level and around 141 kilometers from Srinagar, also can be reached through Pahalgam town. This holy Shiva cave shrine is surrounded by snowy mountains. In fact, it is covered with snow most of the year except the short duration of time in summer when it is open for pilgrims. Every year, over thousands of Hindu devotees make an annual pilgrimage to the Amarnath cave on challenging mountainous terrain to see the ice stalagmite (Ice Lingam) formed inside the cave. As per mythological legends, it is believed that Shiva recounted the secret of creation to Parvati in this cave, but unknown to them, a pair of doves eavesdropped the same and are liberated from rebirth. The pair can still be spotted in the cave.Amarnath-A-070

Discovery of Holy Cave

The existence of the Holy Cave is mentioned in the Puranas, but the re-discovery forms a popular story. The story goes like this; a shepherd Buta Malik met a saint who gave him a bag full of Coal. Upon reaching home when he opened the bag, he found gold coins instead of coal. Full of joy, he ran to thank the Saint, but the Saint had disappeared. As a replacement, he found The Holy Cave and the Ice Shiv Lingam there. He proclaimed this discovery to the Villagers. Then, onwards this shrine became a famous and sacred place of Pilgrimage.Amarnath-241762_10

Traditional Routes of the Yatra

(A) JAMMU – Pahalgam – Holy Cave: This route begins from Pahalgam, which is 96 KM from Srinagar. The next stop on this route is Chandwari (16 KM from Pahalgam), then Pissu Top – Sheshnag and final Panchtarni, which is the last stopover in Holy Cave Shri Amarnath Yatra.

(B) JAMMU – Baltal – Holy Cave: Nowadays, this route of Amarnath Yatra is most preferred because of its short duration. On this tour, from Jammu, the devotees have to go to Srinagar and then arrive Baltal via sonamarg. Though, it is a short route, but it is a 14 steep trek-one way. Because of its shorter distance, it is the most popular route of Yatra amongst pilgrims.amarnath (1)

Formalities / Requirements to Go For Amarnath Yatra

  • In order to go for Amarnath Yatra, a pilgrim / devotee needs to register by getting them register and filling up the application form.

  • A Yatri registered by the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board for the Yatra 2012, having a valid Yatra permit issued by the SASB would be entitled to an insurance cover of Rs. 1 Lac in case of death due to accident while undertaking the Yatra.

  • For Physical fitness, start at least a month prior to the Yatra in 4-5 KM morning or evening walk. To improve oxygen efficiency, start practicing breathing exercises and yoga, most importantly Pranayam.Amarnath pilgrims near cave shrine

  • For the Ladies: Saree is not a right dress for the Yatra. Wearing Salwar Kameez, a track suit or pant-shirt will be better. In addition, ladies pregnant more than 6 week shall not be allowed to go for the pilgrimage.

  • The journey is a tough one, thus children below the age of 13 years and above the age of 75 years are not permitted to undertake the pilgrimage.

  • During the Yatra from Pahalgam / Baltal, Yatris should keep spare clothes/ eatables in a suitable waterproof bag to ensure against their getting wet.

  • Yatris must carry a water bottle, roasted grams / Channa, dry fruits, chocolates, toffees/gear (jigger), etc. For use during the journey.

  • Also, they should get cold cream / Vaseline / sunscreen to protect themselves from hands / face against sunburn etc.

  • The most important tip for Yatris is that they should always travel in a group and make sure that all other Yatris comprising the group, are walking in front of you or in the rear, and always stay in your site, to ensure that you don’t get separated from them.

  • Always wear trekking shoes with laces and don’t try any short cut as it would be dangerous.

In this year 2014, the Amarnath Yatra Shri Amarnathji Yatra will commence on 28th June, 2014, via both the routes Baltal and Pahalgam, and conclude on 10th August, 2014.

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