Amarnath is Situated in a narrow gorge at the farther end of Lidder valley, Shri Amarnathji Cave Shrine stands at 3,888 m and is 45 km from Pahalgam and 141 km from Srinagar. Though the original pilgrimage subscribes that the yatra be undertaken from Srinagar, the more common practice is to begin the journey from Pahalgam, and cover the distance to Shri Amarnathji and back in four or five days. Pahalgam is 96 km from Srinagar. In recent times the Baltal route via Sonamarg has also become very popular because of its short distance track (although very steep) to the Holy Cave of Shri Amarnathji.
One of the Holy trinity, Lord Shiva is a living God. The most ancient and sacred book of India, the ‘Rig Veda’ evokes his presence in its hymns. Vedic myths, ritual and even astronomy testify to his existence from the dawn of time.
Lord Shiva is known to have made his adobe in the Himalayas. He built no house nor shelter, not for himself or his consort, Goddess Parvati . He was an ascetic, and yet married; He could be both for “He is the God sporting in the forest or taking his ease on a cloud.
The base points for the pilgrim’s trek are picturesque Pahalgam and Sonamarg, a large tented township springs up to accommodate the pilgrims at both these locations. The conduct of the yatra is a gigantic task in which the Jammu & Kashmir State Government takes the assistance of the security departments for providing security and helping to keep the route open. All intermediate halting places have the same kind of facilities as are provided at Pahalgam and Baltal. These days Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) conducts and coordinates all the pilgrimage related activities.
The Yatra is organised in the month of Shravan and commences from Pahalgam & Baltal on specified dates.
Inside the 40 m (130 ft) high Amarnath cave, the stalagmite is formed due to freezing of water drops that fall from the roof of the cave on to the floor and grows up vertically from the cave floor. It is considered to be a Shiva Linga by Hindus. The Cave waxes during May to August, as snow melts in the Himalayas above the cave and the resultant water seeps into the rocks that form the cave and gradually wanes thereafter. As per the religious beliefs, it has been claimed that the lingam grows and shrinks with the phases of the moon reaching its height during the summer festival, although there is no scientific evidence for this belief.
According to a Hindu legend, 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 main purpose of the annual pilgrimage to the cave is worship of the ice stalagmite Lingam.
Devotees travel on foot, either from Srinagar or from Pahalgam. The latter journey takes approximately 5 days.
The State Road Transport Corporation and Private Transport Operators provide the regular services from Jammu to Pahalgam and Baltal. Also privately hired taxis are available from Jammu & kashmir.
The shorter northern route is just about 16 km long, but has a very steep gradient and is quite difficult to climb. It starts from Baltal and passes through Domial, Barari, and Sangam to reach the cave. The northern route is along the Amarnath valley and all along the route one can see the river Amaravathy (It is more like a tributary of Chenab) which originates from Amarnath Glacier.
It is believed that Lord Shiva left Nandi, The Bull, at Pahalgam (Bail Gaon). At Chandanwari, he released the Moon from his hair (Jataon). On the banks of Lake Sheshnag, he released his snakes. At Mahagunas Parvat (Mahaganesh Mountain), he left his son Lord Ganesha. At Panjtarni, Lord Shiva left behind the five elements – Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Sky. As a symbol of sacrificing the earthly world, Lord Shiva performed the Tandava Dance. Then, finally, Lord Shiva entered the Holy Amarnath Cave along with Parvati.
Registration: Registration of pilgrims are undertaken usually a month ahead of the date fixed for commencement of Yatra. The dates are generally notified through press advertisements. As per notification of SASB the is year the Registration for Shri Amarnathji Yatra 2019 Registration will start from April 1st, 2019. As per rules no Yatri is allowed to proceed on the journey without a Registration Card/ Permit. The process of Registeration for Yatris (Pilgrims) of Shri Amarnathji Yatra 2019 would commence from 01st April 2019, simultaneously for both the Baltal and Chandanwari routes, through designated Bank Branches all over the country.
En route the cave, various non-profit organizations set up food supply and resting tents called pandals which are available to the pilgrims. Near the shrine, hundreds of tents which are erected by locals can be hired for a night’s stay. Helicopter services from base camp to Panjtarni (6 km from the cave) are also available from various private operators.
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