Situated at an altitude of 3,880 meters, the snow-clad shrine of Lord Shiva is one of the most prominent Hindu pilgrimages of India and also one of the most difficult pilgrimages. Every year several pilgrims embark on this difficult journey to worship the divine Shiv Lingam at Amarnath. Situated in the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir, access to the holy cave mostly begins from early July to early August and closes around the festival of Raksha Bandhan, when the Shraavan ends according to the Hindu Calender. It is only in summers around the months of July and August that pilgrims gain access to visit the holy cave shrine in Amarnath, as only by then the pure white snow-clad of Shiv Lingam completely attains the shape, rising to reach the apex on a full moon night. It is also believed that the Ramkund Lake is situated above the cave, from where the water falls drop by drop on the sacred Shiva Lingam.
Major Routes of Journey
The three major routes from where the journey to the most sacred cave shrine begins are Pahalgam, Baltal and Chandanwari. However, Baltal is the most famous of the three as the distance from here is shorter than the other points. One can reach these points with the help of State Road Transport Corporation and Private Transport Operates who offer services from Jammu to Pahalgam and Baltal. Pahalgam is located near the Lidder River, at a distance of 315 kms from Jammu and can be accessed by taxis or buses. On the way, the pilgrims are able to witness some of the most incredible and scenic views of mountains peaks, snow-capped ranges and an abundance of natural beauty.
Convenience For People & Journey
The journey is made easier and safer for the pilgrims to ensure that each and every pilgrim is able to witness the holy powers of Lord Shiva and take back home a lot of memories to share with their family and friends. One can find Kashmiri Bakarwals and their ponies along the trek that walk along with the pilgrims for their convenience and help them by carrying their luggage. On the tougher routes, the pilgrims help and assist each other in every manner possible which makes the yatra stress-free and enjoyable.
As the journey begins pilgrims make their first halt at Chandanwari. Located at a height of around 2,895 meters above the sea level and 16 Kms away from Pahalgam, chananwari is surrounded with the Lidder River, rising mountains and dense forests and is the point from where the pilgrims embark on one of the most difficult treks. The beginning of the annual pilgrimage is marked by the Pratham puja to pray for the blessings of Lord Shiva. Before going on towards Pissu-Top one has to spend a night at this base camp. Free community kitchens are arranged at every camp, which provide langars (free meals) for the pilgrims during their stay.
The journey from Chandanwari towards Sheshnag begins early morning. After walking some kilometers from Chandanwari one comes across the daunting challenge of Pissu-Top. The hill is steep and the climb is very long, which is very difficult for the pilgrims to pass. Some pilgrims take help of the pony to make their trek easier. While hiking Pissu-Top one can witness the charming beauty of the great Himalayas, green meadows with wild Geraniums, buttercups and other Himalayas flora and fauna growing here in abundance, while a great ‘Om’ symbol adorns one of its slants.
Legend on Shravaan day
Once the pilgrims reach the divine shrine, they are able to witness the most amazing incarnation of Lord Shiva. If legends are to be believed, here on Shravaan day; Lord Shiva narrated ‘Amar Katha’ or the secrets of the cosmos to his divine partner, Goddess Parvati. Though Parvati ji fell asleep during the lesson, two pigeons heard Lord Shiva’s story and became immortal. Since then the holy place is known as Amarnath meaning the eternal god, and every year on the full moon day of Shravaan, a pair of pigeons enter the cave of nowhere and can be seen sitting inside.
Needless to say, the holy shrine today is believed to be an indication of Lord Shiva’s mythical powers, and also the place where he narrated the ‘amar katha’ to Parvati Ji. To witness the power of the gods for real one must pay a visit to the divine place Amarnath. Registration for the same starts early, almost 3-4 months before the Yatra begins. Interested pilgrims should get their registration done before hand for a safe and enjoyable journey.
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