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Shri Amarnath Cave Temple

Visit Amarnath: The Holy Pilgrimage (2023)

Amarnath is considered one of the holiest pilgrimages for Hindus and is visited by thousands of tourists every year. The door of the Amarnath temple or the cave opens in the Shravan month in the Hindu calendar that is in July-August. The place has a unique significance for Hindus especially people who worship Lord Shiva. One of the biggest Lingam formed with Ice is located inside the cave which resembles Lord Shiva.

As per the legend, Amarnath cave has a very interesting story associated with it. It is believed that this is lace where Lord Shiva narrated the story of life and immortality to Goddess Parvati. It is believed that once Goddess Parvati asked Lord Shiva about the beads he wears on his head and when he started wearing them. To this question, Lord Shiva replied when Parvati was born. Goddess question why is that Lord Shiva is immortal while she keeps dying and reborn again. Lord Shiva explained the reason being the Amar Katha. Parvati insisted to hear that Amar Katha and convinced Lord Shiva to narrate the story to her. Lord Shiva looked for a place where he could be alone with the Goddess to narrate the story.

He finally found the Amarnath Cave. To reach there, he left all his belongings on the way like the bull Nandi at Pahalgam. He left his moon at Chandanwari, his snakes at the banks of lake sheshnag, his son Ganesha at Mahagunas Parvat, and he left the five elements Earth, Fire, Water, Air, and Sky at Panjtarni. Each of these places has its significance for Hindus now. Lord Shiva then entered this holy Amarnath Cave with Parvati. It is believed that he sat on the Deer Skin and took samadhi. He created a Rudra named Kalagni and ordered him to set fire around the cave so that everything living around that place could be destroyed to be sure that not even a single living being could hear the secret Amar Katha. He then started narrating the story of immortality to Parvati. But despite all these efforts, one egg remained protected under the deerskin on which the Lord was sitting. A pair of pigeons were born out of that egg and believed to become immortal. People visiting Amarnath can still see the pair of pigeons on their way to the Amarnath Cave.

Best Time To Visit Amarnath

The best and only time to visit Amarnath is in the Shravan month of the Hindu calendar. It is only during July and August that the cave temple is opened for the general public to receive Darshan of Baba Amarnath or Lord Shiva also known popularly as Baba Barfani. If you want to go for adventure and not just for the Darshan and Yatra, the best time to visit Amarnath is between May and September.

During summers, the climate in the area is quite favorable for people as it ranges between 9-34 degrees, and this might be a good time to enjoy the greenery around Amarnath. During winters, the temperatures drop to a chilly -8 degrees that becomes unbearable for the tourists with no proper arrangements to stay. Also because of the regional conflicts and lesser p;aces to stay for people other than during Yatra, it should be avoided to visit Amarnath during winters.

How to Reach Amarnath?

Amarnath is well connected to Pahalgam and Batal that are the base camps to start Amarnath Yatra with all the nearby major cities. There are several means of transport available to travel to these two places. You can choose from air travel, trains, buses, or taxis to reach this heavenly town in this beautiful valley.

Air Travel to Amarnath: The Nearest railway station is Sri Nagar International airport which is connected to most of the major cities in India. The local airlines and carriers like Air India, Jet Airways, Indigo, Spice Jet, and others have direct flights from Delhi. You can take a taxi to Pahalgam which is around 70 km from Sri Nagar airport. To reach Sri Nagar, you can also take connecting flights from other local airports in India. You can hire a taxi from the airport to reach go to your destination in Pahalgam or Batal to start your journey to Amarnath.

Rail Travel to Amarnath: The Nearest railway station to reach Amarnath is the very famous Jammu Tawi. The railhead is connected to most of the major cities in India. There are no direct trains to reach Amarnath. The Jammu railway station is situated 178 km from Amarnath. Tourists or Pilgrims can take taxis to reach Pahalgam or Batal depending upon where are they starting their journey to Amarnath from. Jammu Tawi or Udhampur railway station is directly connected to prime cities of the country, including Delhi, Bhatinda, Jaipur, Ahmedabad, and Jodhpur via several superfast, express, and mail trains. You can take a taxi or take a shared cab from outside the railway station easily.

Road Travel to Amarnath: Amarnath is located on a mountain and the way to the temple is a treacherous path. It is not directly connected by road. You can take a flight or train to Jammu and take a taxi to reach Pahalgam or Batal. If you live nearby in the plains, you can also choose to take a direct bus to reach Jammu. From Jammu take another bus to reach Srinagar and from there you can take a taxi to reach Pahalgam or Batal. Bus service is also available from all the nearby major cities in the north that connect to Jammu. You can also choose to hire a taxi if you want to travel at your own pace to this magnificent place.

Places To See And Things To Do In Amarnath

1. Amarnath Cave

Amarnath cave is a Hindu shrine located in Jammu and Kashmir in India. The place is considered to be one of the top spiritual centers in the county. Amarnath cave is visited by thousands of tourists every year. The holy cave is situated at an altitude of 3,888 m that is about 141 km from Srinagar. It is also respectfully known as the Sri Amarnath Cave temple by the devotees. The Amarnath temple is one of the 51 Shakti Peethas. Shakti peethas are the temples located throughout South Asia that commemorate the location of fallen body parts of the Hindu deity Sati. The cave is surrounded by mountains covered in snow. The cave is also covered with snow most of the year. It is only for a short period during summers when the cave is less covered with snow that the doors of the temple open to pilgrims. The cave has a large stalagmite formed because of the freezing of water droplets in the entire height of the cave that is around 41 m. This is considered to be the holy Shivalinga by the Hindus also known as Lingam and represents Lord Shiva. As per the belief and the purans the lingam increases and decreases in size as per the Lunar cycle. The legend says that it is the place where Lord Shiva explained the secret of life to his wife Goddess Parvati.

The legend says that the cave was discovered by Bhrigu Muni when the Kashmir valley was submerged underwater. The water was drained by Kashyap muni through many rivers and was the first one to have darshan of the Lingam. The lingam is also known by the name Baba Barfani. After the discovery of the cave because of a religious place. An annual fair is organized every year during the months of summer. Lakhs of people visit the cave during these months to get the darshan of Lord Shiva during the month of Shravan in the Hindu calendar. There are two possible ways to reach the cave. One is through Battal and the other one via Pahalgam. Pilgrims generally prefer to reach via Pahalgam as it is a comparatively less steep trek than the batal route. The place is also visited by many adventure seekers as it is a fairly advanced level trek/climb to the cave temple. Make sure you are physically fit if you plan to go to Amarnath temple.

2. Amarnath Yatra

People can only go for Amarnath Yatra when the cave temple of Amarnath is open to the public in the Shravan month in the Hindu Calander as stated above. The entire journey to the cave temple and back is called Amarnath Yatra. The Yatra generally starts when the iced Shivalingam reaches its peak after the winter months. The months of July–August is famous for the Hindu pilgrimage, undertaken by up to 600,000 or more people to 40 m high cave temple. Amarnath Yatra begins with a 43 kilometers long mountainous trek from the Nunwan and Chandanwari base camps at Pahalgam and reaches Amarnath temple. The tourists need to spend nights at various places on their way to the temple namely Sheshnag Lake and Panchtarni camps. The state government earns revenue by imposing a tax on the yatra and it is also a way of getting some money from local Shia Muslim bakarwal Gujjars as they take a part of the revenue by offering services to the Hindu pilgrims.

For the Yatra, the devotees travel by foot and choose to take one of the two ways either from Srinagar or from Pahalgam. The journey from Pahalgam takes about five days.

The State Road Transport Corporation and Private Transport Operators provide the regular services from Jammu to Pahalgam and Baltal. You have the option to hire a private taxi. They are available from Jammu & Kashmir.

The shorter northern route from Batal is just about 16 km long. But most people do not prefer to take it as the path is quite risky with a steep gradient which is difficult to climb except for trained climbers. It starts from Baltal and passes through Domel, Barari, and Sangam to reach the Amarnath temple. The northern route is along the Amarnath valley and all along the route, you get the chance to also see the river Amaravati which originates from Amarnath Glacier and is a tributary of the famous Chenab River.

Amarnath Yatra has been threatened by the militant groups several times when the pilgrims were threatened and attacked and even killed. Several pilgrims have lost their lives on their way to the pilgrimage. There are several non-governmental organizations along the way that have setups to provide food and shelter to the pilgrims on their way to the Amarnath cave. Near the temple, hundreds of tents are arranged by locals and can be hired for a night’s stay. You can choose to opt for helicopter services from the base camp to Panjtarni which is 6 km from the cave. There are many private helicopter agencies you can choose from and this is the easiest and safest way to reach Amarnath and get darshan of Baba Barfani.

3. Baltal

Baltal is located at an altitude of 2473 m above sea level and offers a camping ground for pilgrims. Baltal is located 15 km north of Sonamarg on the Sind River at the base of Zojila pass in Jammu and Kashmir. This little valley Baltal is only a day’s journey away from the Amarnath cave and provides a shorter high-altitude and steep alternate route to the Baba barfani cave or the holy cave of Amarnath. The locals in the area arrange shelter for the pilgrims by pitching tents during the season that can be hired by the pilgrims for a night to spend in.

Other than being a base for a journey to a pilgrim, Baltal is a beautiful place with a mesmerizing landscape and people especially adventure seekers go there to enjoy the beauty of nature. It is a photographer’s paradise and you would see many photographers enjoying the view and clicking photos.

4. Pahalgam

Pahalgam is another base for the Amarnath journey and is the route most taken by pilgrims for their journey. Chandanwari is a village located 16.6 kms away from Pahalgam is considered as the actual base camp of the Amarnath. Other than being base on one of the most important pilgrimages for Hindus, Pahalgam is extremely beautiful.

Probably of the most beautiful places on the earth. Pahalgam is a beautiful hill station and a popular tourist attraction visited by thousands of tourists every year. It has an untouched and gorgeous natural beauty that would bewitch you. Being in Pahalgam is an experience in itself. It is a feast both for the eyes and senses. This hill station is surrounded by lush greenery and majestic Himalayan ranges covered in snow which makes the place even more appealing to the eye. Pahalgam is situated on the banks of the Liddar River and is popular for adventure activities like hiking, trekking, fishing. There are many recreational outdoor activities tourists can choose from. There are many hiking spots in the area and is most famous for adventurous trekking activities. One can embark on trekking journeys to Kolhoi Glaciers via a beautiful village named Aru. The local people also offer sledding on the frozen glaciers. The long stretches of rivers in Pahalgam are the perfect site for people who enjoy trout fishing. Many adventures are waiting for you to embark upon in Pahalgam other than the Yatra.

Places To Stay During Amarnath Yatra

Given the place where the Amarnath temple is located on a mountain which is reached by helicopters or walking a treacherous path, the accommodation for your stay will be available in Batal or Pahalgam.

For the Pilgrims, there are many facilities arranged by the government, shrine board, and the locals to stay on their journey to the temple. There are no fancy arrangements. There are tents are available at a minimal charge of around INR 150-300 per night per person that house 10-12 people are available along the way at the night halts. You can get Quilts, pillows, mattresses, and kerosene oil lanterns. Hot water is provided for an additional charge. If you are a tourist not visiting the Yatra or going to the temple, you can decide to book a guest house or a comfortable hotel for you at Pahalgam or Batal and enjoy the landscapes. Pahalgam also has many traditional and luxurious hotels for you to enjoy during your stay.

Things To Eat While In Amarnath/Food Available On The Journey

There are several guidelines provided by the shrine board in the extreme temperature for traveling to the Amarnath cave and certain dietary regulations are also mandatory to avoid hypothermia and serious illness on your way. The yatris or the pilgrims are advised to take a healthy diet with plenty of fluids with warm drinks and regular meals can help provide energy so that the body can generate heat. It is advisable to avoid alcohol, caffeine, and smoking as they all increase the rate at which the body loses heat.

Several NGOs and organizations provide langar free of charge on your way to the temple with the basic food that you can appreciate and enjoy before and after the darshan. Certain food items are banned or should be avoided during the journey. Such food items are All Non-Veg foods, Alcohol, Tobacco, Gutka, Pan Masala, Smoking, other intoxicants, Heavy Pulav / Fried Rice, Poori, Bathura, Pizza, Burger, Stuffed Parantha, Dosa and Fried Roti, Bread with Butter, Cream Based Foods, Pickle, Chutney, Fried Papad, Chowmein, and all other Fried / Fast Food, Cold Drinks and Karrah, Halwa, Jalebi, Gulab Jamun, Laddu Khoya Burfi, Rasgulla, and all other Halwai items, Crunchy Snacks (high in fat and salts) chips / Kurkure, matthi, Namkeen Mixture, Pakora, Samosa, Fried Dry Fruits and all other Deep Fried Items.

These food items can mess with your digestive system and body on this treacherous journey and hence should be avoided. They are now banned by the board and hence are also not available on the way.

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