Amarnath Yatra | Amarnath
Inside the main Amarnath cave lies an ice stalagmite resembling the Shiva Linga, which waxes during May to August and gradually wanes thereafter. This lingam is said to grow and shrink with the phases of the moon, reaching its height during the summer festival. According to Hindu mythology, this is the cave where Shiva explained the secret of life and eternity to his divine consort Parvati. Two other ice formations represent Parvati and Shiva's son, Ganesha.
The cave is situated at an altitude of 3,888 m (12,756 ft), about 141 km (88 mi) from Srinagar, the capital of Jammu and Kashmir. The Central Reserve Police Force, Indian Army and Indian Paramilitary Forces maintain a strong presence in the region due to security concerns.
When To Take UP Amarnath yatra:
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 upto -5 degree C.
How to Perform Amarnath Pilgrimage:
For performing this Yatra, one is required to get registered . The registration is done by J & K Govt. Tourist Offices, located at Delhi, Mumbai, Calcutta, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Jammu and Srinagar.
How to Reach Amarnath:
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 .
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.
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.
Amarnath Yatra Route:
Though it is tough route still nearly one and a half lac pilgrims visit every year. The number of pilgrims is increasing every year. The journey from Jammu onward is by road and there are two routes. The details are given here.
Jammu to Pahalgam to Holy Amarnath ji 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 PAHALGAM – HOLY CAVE.
|PISSU TOP||3377||11000||3.0 KM||CHANDANWARI|
|SHESHNAG||3352||11730||11.0 KM||PISSU TOP|
|MAHAGUNAS||4276||14000||4.6 KM||SHESH NAG|
|PANCHTARNI||3657||12000||9.4 KM||MAHAGUNUS TOP|
|HOLY CAVE||3952||13000||3.0 KM||SANGAM|
Jammu to Baltal to Holy cave (414km) :
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.
Baltal to Holy Cave:
From Baltal Holy Cave is just 14 Kms.
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.
It is a popular pilgrimage destination for Hindus – about 400,000 people visit during the 45-day season around the festival of Shravani Mela in July–August, coinciding with the Hindu holy month of Shraavana.
Devotees generally take the 42 km (26 mi) pilgrimage on foot from the town of Pahalgam, about 96 km (60 mi) from Srinagar, and cover the journey in four to five days. There are two alternate routes to the temple: the longer and more traditional path from Srinagar, and the shorter route from the town of Baltal. Some devotees, particularly the elderly, also ride on horse-back to make the journey. Those who so wish and have the money can now make the journey by helicopter.
The pilgrimage was banned from 1991 to 1995 due to threats from militants. In 1996 the militants had assured that they would not interfere allowing a resumed yatra with far greater numbers than in previous years. However, unseasonal blizzards in late August of that year caught up to a hundred thousand pilgrims by surprise in a tragedy that claimed the lives of 242 yatris, killed by exhaustion and exposure.
Four years later, the pilgrimage suffered another setback with the massacre in Pahalgam of 30 people by Kashmiri separatist militants. Most were yatris on their way to Amarnath or porters and horsemen who would have ferried the pilgrims to the site. Then Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee blamed Lashkar-e-Taiba for the killings.
2006 Artificial Shiva Linga controversy:
In the year 2006, a huge controversy broke up about an artificial Shiva Lingam in Amarnath. In 2006, the natural Shiva Lingam was very small at the onset of the Yatra. Hence to keep the Yatra going Shri Amarnath Shrine Board, under the guise of keeping the cave cool dumped loads of dry ice right over the original shiva linga. This was a huge controversy, but did not impact the Yatra. There are two water channels which flow above and below the ice lingam. The water from these channels leads to the formation of the shiva lingam. During the earthquake of 2005, it is believed that these channels were disturbed which led to the poor formation of the ice lingam. The subsequent years the ice lingam was well formed so the channels must have reformed.
2008 Land transfer controversy:
On 26 May 2008, the Government of India and the state government of Jammu and Kashmir reached an agreement to transfer 100 acres (0.40 km2) of forest land to the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) to set up temporary shelters and facilities for Hindu pilgrims. Kashmiri separatists opposed the move citing reasons that it will jeopardize the article 370 that gives separate identity to the people of Jammu and Kashmir and prevents any Indian citizen to settle in Kashmir. People in Kashmir staged widespread protests against this decision by government of India. Due to the protests, the J&K State government relented and reversed the decision to transfer land. As a result, Hindus in the Jammu region launched counter-agitations against this roll back.
Do's & Don'ts in Amarnath Yatra:
Do at Amarnath Yatra:
Prepare for Yatra by achieving Physical fitness
In order to perform smooth and trouble free yatra, it is advisable to start preparatory morning / evening walk of about 4 - 5 kms per day atleast a month prior to Yatra. Apart from above If you can have daily massage of your body with body oil, preferably mustard (sarson) oil and bathe in the lukewarm water, this will help your body to become flexible and you will not feel tired. Moreover the effect of sudden change in temperature & climate on you will be reduced to a large extent. As oxygen gets rare some times, It is better to improve your physical fitness. To increase your body efficiency of oxygen, it is very good to start deep breathing exercises. The Yoga exercise like Prana Yam can be learnt.
Carry needful warm clothings and wind shield and proper shoes.
You have to trek through high mountains and there are cold winds blowing . So during the Yatra, take Woollen Clothings, Small Umbrella (only Head Cover with Elastic around Forehead and supported by strap around the chin), Wind shield, Raincoat, Waterproof Shoes (Preferably Hunter Shoes), Torch, Stick, Cap (preferably Monkey Cap), Gloves, Jacket, Woollen Socks and Trousers. These are essential as the climate is unpredictable and changes abruptly from sunny weather to rain and snow. The temperature may abruptly fall even up to -5 degree C.
- Keep a slip with your Name, Address and the name of accompanying yatri in your pocket
- Take water bottle, dry fruit, and baked grams with you during journey.
- Keep some cold cream or vaseline with you to protect skin from cold winds
- Take a little relaxation on steep inclines and don't exert yourself too much.
- Yatris are advised to follow the instructions issued by Yatra Administration.
- It is requested that do provide all needful help to the co-devotee travelling with you.
- Perform yatra with a pious mind and keep enchanting "Om Namah Shivay" all the way.
- During the Yatra from Pahalgam onward , keep your clothes and eatables in plastic bag to avoid the things being drenched during the rain
- Carry some common medicines such as Glucose, Disprin etc. with you for immediate relief.
- Sari is not suitable dress for the Yatra. Ladies should not wear saris as it may be very inconvenient. Salwar kameej, pant shirt or Track suit will be very comfortable.
- Keep the horses / ponies with your luggage and Coolies along side as it is difficult to trace them in case you are separated from them. More over you may need some of those useful items from luggage any time at a short notice.
- Best suitable shoes are Hunter shoes and most comfortable Dress is woollen track suit.
- The best way to perform Yatra is to keep a steady and slow pace. Don’t exert more by fast walking. The moral of the story of Hare and tortoise is best applicable here.
Don'ts at Amarnath Yatra:
- Don't stop at such places which are marked by warning notices
- Don't take drugs during Yatra.
- The children and aged persons are advised not to perform yatra, keeping in view the tough nature of the yatra.
- Don't use Slippers because of the steep rises and falls on the route to the Holy Cave.
- Don't attempt short cuts on the route as it is very dangerous.