The place where Lord Shiva revealed the secret of immortality to his consort Goddess Parvati, Amarnath Cave confirms the existence of one supreme power. Every year, millions of devotees those practicing or believing in Hinduism join the stern pilgrimage known as Amarnath Yatra to get a glimpse of ice Lingam an iconic form of Lord Shiva, a naturally formed ice stalagmite. With the dates for Amarnath Yatra announced recently, it is the right time for preparations, if you wish to seek blessings of Baba Barfani popular designation of Shiva in the region.
Location and Dates
Amarnath Shrine is not directly accessible by road, but through two different trekking routes from Baltal about 14 km. long and Pahalgam about 42 km. long. Located in the state of Jammu & Kashmir at a distance of about 140 km from the state capital Srinagar, the cave enjoys an elevation of 3,888 m. and boasts of stunning beauty and soothing atmosphere.
The cave remains detached from the world due to heavy snowfall for the most part of the year and opens only for about 4555 days during the Hindu calendar month of Shraavana usually between midJune and midAugust.
Religious Significance of Shrine
To relieve the curiosity of Parvati, Shiva narrated her secret of immortality at Amarnath Cave in seclusion to save the secret from any living form. According to the legend, a pair of pigeons managed to hear the secret and the same is believed to have been spotted by pilgrims at different occasions. Every year, the water seeping in the cave freezes to form a vertical shape resembling Shiva Lingam, along with ice formations believed to be those of Goddess Parvati and Lord Ganesha Shiva&rsquos son.
Facilities for Pilgrims
Accommodation Hotels bookings need to be done in advance at Srinagar, Pahalgam, Sonmarg and other destinations of Amarnath pilgrimage tour. Tented accommodations are available at Baltal and various destinations on the trekking routes, including Chandanwadi, Sheshnag, Panjtarni and Sangam.
Transportation Buses and private cabs are available from Srinagar to reach base camps at Baltal and Pahalgam also from Pahalgam to Chandanwari. Amarnath Yatra by helicopter from Baltal and Pehalgam till Panjtarni from where the holy cave is 6 km, away can also be booked. Dandies, ponies and palanquins are available to assist the pilgrims reach the cave.
Other Facilities Langars community meals are organized at different spots by Sree Amarnath Yatra Trust and other organizations. Security and assistance is offered by the Indian army and state government authorities.
Preparations for Yatra
Carry woollens, raingear umbrella, raincoat, trekking shoes, drinking water, flashlight, sunscreens and dry fruits. Like every year, Amarnath Yatra compulsorily requires the pilgrims to produce health certificates from authorized medical practitioners and institutes. It is recommended to be in a group for the journey.
Those taking Amarnath Yatra travel packages can also visit nearby tourist places like
· Pahalgam Attractions include water rafting, trekking, horse riding and picturesque spots like Lidder River Valley, Kohli Glacier and Betaab Valley.
· Srinagar Attractions include Mughal Gardens, Dal Lake and Parihaspora ruins.
· Gulmarg Popular for skiing, world&rsquos highest gondola and unbound natural beauty.
· Sonmarg Highlights include Krishnasar Lake, trekking routes and Buddhist temple ruins.
Book an Amarnath Yatra tour package to complete one of the world&rsquos most challenging pilgrimages with comfort. Visiting the holy shrine once will inspire you to return every year.