“Pilgrims’ Ultimate Destination“
Amarnath is revered as the most significant pilgrimage in India for the devotees of Lord Shiva. Each year, an ice idol forms naturally in the holy Amarnath cave, situated in the town. It is said to resemble the form of Lord Shiva.Millions of tourists and, particularly Hindu worshippers of the Lord from all parts of the world flock to Amarnath to witness the natural formation in the widely famous ‘Amarnath Yatra’.
According to a legend, it was in the Amarnath Cave where Lord Shiva shared the secret of life and eternity with Goddess Parvati. The Yatra is a blissful experience of its own kind and deserve to be visited at least once in a lifetime.
More on Amarnath
The Amarnath Yatra
Every year thousands of people participate in the Amarnath Yatra that lasts a period of 45 days. Registration begins in the month of July and ends towards late August. Pilgrims visit the holy Amarnath shrine to watch the natural spectacle and seek blessings of Lord Shiva. It is a beautiful formation of ice that is made when drops of water touch the cave floor and freeze upon touching it.
Amarnath is situated near Jammu, which is connected to most parts of the country by train. From Jammu, it is a located at a distance of 45 kms. Pilgrims visit the initial 15 kms by bus to reach Chandanwari. From there, they need to trek for 2 to 4 days to reach Amarnath. The means of reaching the Amarnath Cave are not limited to on foot. One can reach there by horses or a helicopter too, depending on the budget. Even though pilgrims can only manage to catch a glimpse of the revered ice Shiva Linga because of the deluge of devotees waiting desperately to watch the marvel, it is worth every effort and time spent.
History of Amarnath
The trek to Amarnath is full of beautiful experiences and mesmerizing views. The experience becomes even more endearing due to the mythological and historical stories that are associated with Amarnath caves. According to a legend, Lord Shiva disclosed the secret behind his immortality in this cave when Goddess Parvati grew inquisitive. She asked Lord Shiva what his necklace of beads stood for. Upon being questioned, Lord Shiva took her to a cave, now known as Amarnath Cave, where he shared the secret behind his immortality and conveyed that each bead in his necklace stood for every time Parvati was reborn. To ensure this remained secret, he created a deity name Rudra, who lit up the entire cave in flames so that it became inaccessible to anyone living or dead. Incidentally, a pigeon egg was left in the cave, out of which two pigeons hatched. These pigeons heard the entire “Amar Katha” narrated by the Lord Shiva and became immortal. Incidents of spotting these pigeons are often reported by pilgrims. Another story narrates a tale of a shepherd named Buta Malik, who accidentally discovered the Amarnath Cave nearly 700 years ago, It is said a sage gave his a bag of coal which turned into gold when he reached home. The sphered went back to the cave to express his gratitude to the sage but found a Shiva Linga in the cave instead of the sage.
Amarnath Yatra Registration Process 2018
Devotees can register for Shri Amarnathji Yatra this year starting March 1, 2018. The Yatra begins from June 28. The shrine board has approved 437 branches of Punjab National Bank, Jammu and Kashmir Bank and YES Bank in 32 states and union territories to accept registrations. One can register using an online form. It is important note that a health certificate must compulsory be produced at the time of registration. Since the number of Yatris is limited, registration is done on first come first serve basis.
Each registration costs only INR 50 per yatri. A ‘group registration scheme’, started by SASB, has also been made available to Yatris since 2014 for pilgrims looking to travel with friends, family or neighbors.
NRIs and Ex-Yatris can find the
details of registration on the website.
Restaurants and Local Food in Amarnath
Amarnath is not a commercial place so you will not find any restaurants here. Instead, there are pandals serving food to pilgrims on their way that you will find very frequently. There are some ashrams and Dharmshalas as well that offer yatris good quality pure vegetarian food.
One Day Itinerary
Day 1 – Get down at the Jammu Tawi Railway station. Take a nearly 8-hour long ride to Pahalgam by either bus or cab. Enjoy the beautiful scenery of the small town in Jammu and Kashmir. Unwind and relax before you set on the trek to Amarnath. You can also visit the beautiful Sheshnag Lake and experience tranquility. You can also take a direct helicopter ride from Baltal to Panchtami. Panchtami is the nearest point the helicopters can take you to Amarnath. From there, it is only a roughly 10-minute walk to the holy cave, or you can take a horse-ride too.
Day 2 – Reach Chandanwari by bus. There are plenty of local bus services riding to and fro from Pahalgam to Chandanwari. Get down at Chandanwari to begin your trek. You can trek on feet, or hire a horse after two days if you do not feel comfortable walking all the way to Amarnath. Take a stop after approximately 15 kms and relish Bhandara food that is served free. Rest at the camps build around and start afresh the next day.
Day 3 – This is the last day of your trek to Amarnath caves. You will be trekking down the valley to reach the caves.