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Location : 28.2 km from Pahalgam; 10 km from Baltal Dedicated to : Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati
Altitude : 3,888 meter above sea level
Opened on : 1st July 2019 Closing on : 15th august 2019
The renowned holy cave of Amarnath is located on an elevation of 3,888 meters above sea level in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Deemed for being one of the holiest places of worship especially for Shiva worshippers who make it a point to visit this remote location of pilgrimage at least once in a year. For most part of the year the entire cave remains covered entirely in snow except for a few days in the summer months when the region clears up for visit and the devotees make their way braving the tough conditions to worship the ice stalagmite formation of Shiva Linga. Pilgrims in thousands of number flock here from all over the world to offer their prayer to this 1 of the 18 grand Maha Shaktipeeth in the world.
Amarnath is a sacred cave shrine in Jammu and Kashmir that is held on an extremely high accord by the devout Hindus from all over the world. Being situated in a remote location it is difficult to cover the journey but the unnerving faith of the people keeps them going on foot or with the help of ponies and other such ways of transportation. Surrounded by amazing and surreal natural beauty a visit to this one of the most prominent places of Shiva worship is a must.
Just like most of the holy sacred places in India Amarnath cave too has a very vibrant history. 2 of them are:
Several years ago the cave was submerged under water and the great muni Kashyap is said to have drained the place through a series of rivers and rivulets. This resulted in the muni having the first Darshan of the holy cave of Amarnath and later on it garnered a huge following for being the abode of Bholenaath who assumes the form of an ice lingam to pay a visit to his devotees.
Research in and around the region sheds light into the fact that the local community of the Gadaria tribe were the very first ones to have discovered the cave and got the very first glimpse of baba Barfani who since then have been worshipped by devotees.
The most prominent legend of Amarnath cave depicts that lord Shiva himself had chosen this spot to reveal the secrets of immortality to his consort goddess Parvati. he chose this place since it was away from civilization and could only reveal it without anyone around, for this he even abandoned his bull Nandi in Pahalgam, his moon at Chandan Wadi, his snakes one the banks of lake Sheshnaag and his son Ganesha in Panjtarni and Mahagunas Parvat and finally all his 5 elements i.e. earth, fire, water, air and sky. However 2 pigeons present inside the cave heard it and the pilgrims can even see the pigeons (who became immortal) to this day which is truly a miraculous sight to behold.
There are 2 routes heading for Amarnath yatra:
From Pahalgam - This is the only traditional route which is mostly used by the Yatris to reach Amarnath cave. It can be reached either from Jammu (315 km) or from Srinagar (96 km). the trekking journey commences from Pahalgam with the first stop being at Chandanwadi which is located at a distance of 16 kms and the route is fairly easy and comfortable to cover. The next stop is located in Pissu top i.e. the mountain of Sheshnaag lake mountain which is another 11 kms of walking distance. From here the holy cave is another 6 kms away and due to its elevation it is recommended for you to carry oxygen cylinders with you in case you have difficulty breathing and covering the trip.
From Baltal - The route for Amarnath from Baltal commences from Srinagar via Sonamarg which is a very scenic route and lesser crowded than the Pahalgam route. Although shorter it is a very difficult journey and hence people prefer going the longer yet easier route from Pahalgam. The sacred Amarnath cave is located at a distance of just 14 kms which is a fairly steep route.
Amarnath in Summer (March - June) – The average temperature during these summer months remain between 9 to 34 degree Celsius and this is the time when the snow melts away giving way for pilgrims to have Darshan of the immortal stalagmite ice formation of lord Shiva. This is also the perfect time to visit since the cave remains open for a limited number of days.
Amarnath in Monsoon (July - September) – The region receives unseasonable blizzards during these months and is also visited by a huge throng of crowd since this time coincides with the auspicious Shravan months. Remember to carry some good quality warm winter wear and other such trekking gear to keep you safe.
Amarnath in Winter (October - February) – The temperature during this time dips to as low as -10 degree Celsius and it is a very inhospitable time in the Amarnath caves. This is not the right time to go to Amarnath and the cave is also shut down for visitation.
Best Time to Visit – The summer months of May to September are considered to be the most appropriate time to visit when the temperature stays between 9 to 35 degree Celsius. It is the perfect time to even avail some helicopter services to Amarnath and cover the journey. If you are careful and fit enough then you can even cover this holy journey during the monsoon months of July and August.