Amarnath

India is long known to be the land of magic and mysteries that have enthralled people with miraculous incidences since time immemorial. Amarnath is one such miracle which is believed to be the earthly abode of Lord Shiva. The sacred cave is located at an altitude of 3,888 m above sea level in Jammu and Kashmir. Srinagar, the summer capital of the state is the closest city. Every year millions of devotees undertake the pilgrimage to take blessings of Lord Shiva. The cave has a natural Shiva lingam of ice which is said to magically wax and wane with the Moon.

Amarnath

Legend of the sacred shrine

Legend of the sacred shrine

Folklore says Parvati asked Lord Shiva the reason behind his immortality. To which Shiva replied, to know it she will have to listen to the Amar Katha (story of immortal) but in a secluded place where no living being could listen. Then, he took Parvati to this cave leaving his vehicle, Nandi Bull at Pahalgam, Moon from his hair at Chandanwari, his snakes at Sheshnag, son Ganesha at Mahagunas Parvat and his five elements (Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Sky) at Panjtarni. Shiva and his consort, Parvati then entered the cave and he took his Samadhi. But the story happened to be overheard by a pair of pigeons which then became immortal. They are said to be living inside the cave till date despite the extremely cold climate, which astounds many.

Holy Cave

Holy Cave

The cave lies on the mighty Himalayas surrounded by snowy mountains, approximately 46 km away from Pahalgam and 14 km from Baltal. It measures 40 m high, inside which the ice stalagmite forms rising from the floor from the dripping water of melting snow from the ceiling between May and August. This ice formation is idolized as the holy Shivalinga representing Lord Shiva. According to beliefs, Shivalinga waxes and wanes with respect to Moon. Two more ice lingams are present by its side, that of Parvati and their son, Ganesha.

Amarnath Yatra

Amarnath Yatra

Amarnath pilgrimage starts every year in the month of Shravan i.e. July and continues till August. This is the time when naturally formed ice stalagmite takes the form of complete Shivalinga. Devotees from far afield flock to Amarnath Cave for taking the blessing. The 43 km mountainous trek begins from the Nunwan and Chandanwari base camps at Pahalgam and reaches shrines after pit stops at Sheshnag Lake and Panchtarni camps. You can cover the route by either trekking or hiring pony ride or Palki ride. Even the treacherous route doesn't deter pilgrim’s spirit and continue to visit every year with full vigor.

Amarnath Yatra

Amarnath Yatra

By Air– The nearest aerodrome is Srinagar airport, situated in the summer capital of Jammu and Kashmir. One can avail taxi or bus to reach the base camp (Pahalgam or Baltal) of the pilgrimage. Helicopter Service is also available that takes directly to the shrine. There are three helipads from where you can avail the ride - Baltal, Neel Grath and Panchtarani.

By Rail– The last railhead to reach Amarnath shrine is Jammu railway station. It lies in the winter capital of the state, Jammu city. From Jammu, you can take a bus to Pahalgam or Baltal base camp and embark on the trek to the shrine.

By Road– There are two routes to reach Amarnath shrine which you can cover by either trekking or hiring pony or Palki ride.

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