HOW TO GO
Situated in a narrow gorge at the farther end of the Lidder Valley, Amarnath Holy Cave stands at 3,888 mtrs. and is 363 kms. from Jammu Via Pahalgam and about 414 kms. from Jammu Via Baltal. Mainly the journrey upto Holy Cave is under taken in two parts and one can reach first part of the journey through:
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.
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.
How to Reach Amarnath Holy Cave :
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.
1-Jammu - Pahalgam - Holy Cave 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 -->Chandanwari -->Pissu Top-->Sheshnag-->
Panjtarni -->Holy Cave
The various stations reroute to Holy Cave are:-
a)PAHALGAM (The Base Camp) :
It is 96 KM from Srinagar .This distance can be covered by car,bus or taxi. Pahalgam is known all over the world for its beauty. Pahalgam is a picturesque small town surrounded by mountains covered with deodar and conifer trees and is situated on the bank of' the river Liddar. It is said that in the vicinity of Pahalgam is Mahadevgiri mountain and at its base is a big flat stone. A stream runs besides it. "In the 9th century A.D. a saint named Vasugupta had a dream in which Lord Shiva appeared to him and told him the whereabouts of a rock with a series of' teachings inscribed on it. These teachings which were named as Shivasutras form the foundation of Kashmiri Shaivism. Swami Mukhtananda who visited Kashmir found the rock. The intervening years have wiped away the writings which were found on the rock but the feelings remains". All essentials can be bought here. Good Hotels are available for accommodation. However the arrangements for stay and Langar are also made by the Non Government Service Organisations. Pahalgam also serves as a base camp for the Yatra.
The pilgrims leave for the next stag-Chandanwari. The distance from Pahalgam to Chandanwari is 16km. The route is good .It can be covered by road transport also. Mini buses are also available from Pahalgam to reach Chandanwari. The trail runs along the Lidder River . The route is scenic. Food is available here. Pilgrims camp at Pahalgam or Chandanwari on the first night .
c) PISSU GHATI :
As the Yatra proceed further from Chandanwari one climbs a height to reach Pissu Ghati. It is said that to be first to reach for darshan of Bhole Nath Shivshankar there was a war between Devtas and Rakshas . With the power of Shiv , devtas could kill the rakshas in such large number that the heap of their dead bodies has resulted in this high mountain.
This second day’s trek of 12 kms from Chandanwari is through Pissu Ghati and spectacular, primeval countryside, and reachess Sheshnag - a mountain which derives its name from its Seven Peaks, resembling the heads of the mythical snake. The Journey to Sheshnag follows steep inclines on the right bank of a cascading stream and wild scenery untouched by civilisation. The second night’s camp at Sheshnag overlooks the deep blue waters of Sheshnag lake, and glaciers beyond it. The Sheshnag Lake is a mile long and a quarter of a mile broad and there is a meadow overlooking the lake. There are legends of love and revenge too associated with Sheshnag, and at the camp these are narrated by campfires. It is said that a powerful Asura (demon) brought about a havoc among the Devas (gods). In distress they prayed to Lord Shiva, but he could not help them as he had granted a boon to the Asura (demon) that he would not be killed by the Lord. He advised them to approach Lord Vishnu. They prayed to Lord Vishnu as a result of which the mighty snake residing in the lake destroyed the Asura (demon) at the command of Lord Vishnu. The stillness of a pine scented Himalayan night increases your inner joy. There is a rest house but during Sawan there are large number of Yatris so it better to arrange for Tent from Chandanwari . The arrangement for carrying load should be made at Pahlgam itself. The water of Sheshnag Lake is very cold . Yatri can take bath and get their fatigue alliviated. The bath in the lake is considered auspicious.
Then the pilgrims have to climb the Mahagunus mountain which is about 4276 mtrs. (14000 ft) high. The mountain is covered with beautiful buttercups and here are heard the shrieks of the marmot animals which cannot be seen as they run into the holes as soon as they hear the footsteps of a human being.
From Sheshnag one has to climb steep height up across Mahagunas Pass at 4276 mtrs.(140000 ft) for 4.6 KM and then descending to the meadow lands of Panchtarni at a height of 3657 mtrs (12000 ft). The last camp enroute to the Holy Cave is made here on third day. The whole scene is one of barren mountains and no trees are found here; is covered with green grass only. The pilgrims reach the plain of Panchtarani which is a mile long and a quarter of mile broad. A stream runs here and four other streams also join it. The tradition goes that Lord Shiva was performing Tandav Nritya, the cosmic dance of destruction. "While dancing his locks got disheveled and from them the five streams came down. These are considered holy and bathing in them is considered as auspicious. Some very rare types of wild flowers of variegated colors and kinds are found here.
Here one faces cold winds, cause the skin to crack. Hence cold cream.Vaseline are very useful for protection of skin. Some Yatries are also effected by deficiency of oxygen. Some may get the feeling of vomiting, so dry fruit like Allu Bukhara, sour and sweet eatables like lemon are useful to control these symptoms.
The route to Mahagunas is full of rivulets, water falls and springs. Panchtarni is a very beautiful place inthe feet of BHAIRAV MOUNT. route to Mahagunas is full of rivulets , water falls , springs . Panchtarni is a very beautiful place in the feet of BHAIRAV MOUNT. Five rivers flow here. It is said that five rivers originated from Lord Shiva's Hairs (Jataon). Pilgrims camp at Panchtarni on the 3rd. day.
f)THE HOLY CAVE SHRI AMARNATH:
The Holy Cave of Shri Amarnath is only 6 kms from Panchtarni. As there is no place to stay hence the pilgrims start in the early hours of the morning after their stay at Pachtarni. The pilgrims have to carry their eatables for the day. On the way to The Holy Cave one come across the Sangam of Amravati and Panchtarni. Some pilgrims take bath here to become pious. Near the cave is found white soil known as Bhasam. It is the most beloved soil of Shiv ji . The pilgrims apply this Holy soil to their body and then go for Shivlingam Darshan. There are two smaller Shivlings one of Maa Parvati and other of Shri Ganesh. It may be noted that after having early Darshan of the Shivlinga at Holy Cave one can return to Panchtarni
well in time the same day . Some pilgrims camp at Panchtarni while others continue their journey and reach back Sheshnag by the same evening.
Outside the cave are seen two pigeons which are present there throughout the year. There is a legend that Lord Shiva was in deep mediation when he was disturbed by his two devotees. Lord Shiva got furious and transformed them into pigeons and now they are seen there since many many years.
Entrance to the cave is regulated, and darshan a hasty affair for there are many others waiting outside to pay homage before the awesome Shivalingam. The devotees sing bhajans, chant incantations, and priests perform aarti and puja, invoking the blessing of Shiva, the divine, the pure, the absolute.
It often happens that the weather gets overcast
with dark clouds and it rains excessively but in spite of the devotees with strong
determination go up the cave and are rewarded with the darshan of the Lord's ice
lingam. Those who have true devotion and faith in Lord Shiva never turn their back
during the Yatra but go steadfast up to the cave.
2- Jammu-Baltal-Holy Cave Route:
Jammu - Baltal (400km). -
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.The journey from Jammu to Baltal which is about 400 kms. is full of beautiful Sites and one can experience of being in Heaven , a Paradise on earth. Passing through beautiful valleys, steeped mountains, one is sure of forgetting , oneself as a person ,for a while . A thrill, which is obviously there in every pilgrim gets enhanced while passing through this way owing to the Darshan of Holy Cave. In nutshell, a journey which can go down to your memory throughout the lifetime. This distance can be covered by foot / Ponies. However, Dandies are also available for handicapped and old aged pilgrims.
The width of the Kacha road is 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.
Trek to Amarnathji Cave
"For those who journey with faith, it is a rewarding experience, this simple visitation to a cave-shrine, the home of the Himalayan mendicant who is both destroyer and healer, the greatest of the Hindu God"
The trek from Pahalgam to Amarnathji cave is on an ancient peregrine route. The 45 - km distance is covered in four days, with night halts at Chandanwari, Sheshnag (Wawjan) and Panchtarni. The distance from Pahalgam to Chandanwari (16 km) is now covered by motor transport. The pilgrims camp here or at Pahalgam on the first night.
The first day's trek of 13 km from Chandanwari is through spectacular, primeval countryside. The main centre of attraction on this trek is Sheshnag, a mountain lake which derives its name from its seven peaks, resembling the heads of a mythical snake. The journey to Sheshnag follows steep inclines up the right bank of a cascading stream and wild scenery untouched by civilisation. The
The second night's camp at Wawjan overlooks the deep blue water of Sheshnag lake, and glaciers beyond it. The lake is also associated with legends of love and revenge, and at the camp these are recounted by campfires, to the stillness of a pine-scented, Himalayan night.
The second day's 12 km trek steadily gains height, winding up across Mahagunas Pass at 4,600 m and then descending to the meadow - lands of Panchtarni, the last camp enroute to the holy cave.
From Panchtarni to Amarnathji is only 6 km, but an early morning's start is recommended for there is a long queue awaiting entrance to the cave. The same day, following darshan, devotees can return to Panchtarni in time for lunch, and continue to Wawjan to spend the fourth night out; or continue further to Zojibal, returning to Pahalgam on the 4th day.