Located in Kashmir in the Pahalgam Area, Amarnath Ji is one of the most important Hindu pilgrimage destinations in India. Government of Jammu & Kashmir organizes this Yatra every year located in the mighty Himalayas with its serene beauty of nature. Needless to say, devotees flock in from all over the country as well as internationally.
The main temple that the Yatra ends is located at about 12,756 ft. above sea level.
Why Do We Visit Shri Amarnath Ji?
Legend has it that Lord Shiva himself had blessed the Amarnath Caves. So, anyone who visits them are believed to attain ‘moksha’ or salvation. Between the months of May and October, the ice melts in the Amarnath caves to reveal an ice lingam along with two other formations, which depict Shri Ganesha and Goddess Parvati.
When Is The Yatra Organized?
Every year, the Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) announces the dates. These dates are usually anytime between May and October. It goes on for 48 days normally.
Preparing For This Yatra
Amarnath Yatra requires the participants to be physically fit to begin this journey. You will have to keep all your documents before your embark on the trip. There are two important documents:
- Registration form for your Amaranth Yatra should be downloaded from the website of the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board. You can no longer submit these forms online.
- A Yatra permit can be obtained by banks that have been notified across the country. These banks include YES bank, Punjab National Bank and J&K bank. This permit has a special validity for the chosen route and you will not be able to join the yatra without it. Details of these banks will be provided to you on the website of the Amarnathji Shrine Board- www.shriamarnathjishrine.com.
- Any proof of identity including your Passport, Drivers’ License, Voter ID etc. is required for registration.
- A recent certificate of Medical fitness from any doctor who is recognized by the Amarnathji Shrine Board is required for registration. This certificate guarantees that you are physically fit to attend this Yatra.
- You will have to pay a fee of Rs.50 in order to register for this Yatra. There is no requirement of separate registration if you choose to take the helicopter. The health certificate needs to be carried for submission before the helicopter boarding.
Important: All the details of the list of recognized doctors, Amarnath Yatra registration forms, health certificates, and registration centers are available on www.amarnathyatra.org.
List Of Things You Will Need To Carry
The Amarnath Yatra is not an easy one. You need to be prepared at all times. Here are a few things that you need to carry when you are packing for the yatra:
- Woolen clothing
- Small umbrella that you can strap on your head.
- Rain coat
- Waterproof laced trekking shoes
- A walking stick
- Woolen or regular cap
- Woolen gloves
- 2-3 pairs Socks
- Trousers, preferably waterproof.
- Women may carry salwar kameez, although tracks are preferred.
- Dry fruits
- Channa (roasted)
- Bottles to carry water.
- Sunscreen lotion with SPF 30 at least.
- A note with your name, address and personal details that you will keep with you at all times.
Who Cannot Attend The Yatra
- Women, who are over six weeks pregnant
- Anyone over 75 years of age
- Children who are less than 13 years of age
- Anyone who does not meet the required fitness standards
The most important thing for the Amarnath Yatra is your physical fitness. You need to be able to cope with the arduous conditions that prevail in these high altitudes. To prepare yourself for this trek, start by walking minimum six kilometers everyday at least a month before the actual journey starts. You will also have to practice breathing techniques like pranayama. In case you have any heart or lung disease, you must consult your doctor before you actually sign up for the Yatra. Those who have high or low blood pressure should be extremely cautious.
Reaching The Caves
You can opt for different routes to reach the Amarnath caves. Each one is different form the other in terms of accessibility. For most pilgrims, the best place to start the journey is Srinagar. It is accessible by flights and buses. From Srinagar, Batal or Sonmarg is just a taxi ride away. Some of them begin this journey from Pahalgam. The two most popular routes are:
Baltal To Amarnath Caves
This is the more popular route as Baltal is only 14 kilometers away from the caves. You can choose to cover this journey by road or by a helicopter. The latter is the easier option as it saves you from the physical exertion.
Pahalgam To Amarnath Caves
This is the more arduous route. Pahalgam is about 47 kilometers away from the caves. With Pahalgam as the base camp, the journey is an upward hill climb from there. Now, if this is too strenuous for you, helicopter tours are also available.
You can book packages through the Amarnath Shrine Board. There are also private travel companies and online sites where booking the entire package along with helicopter rides is possible.
Do’s and Don’ts
- Always follow the rules and regulations that have been listed out for all the pilgrims.
- Respect nature when you are on this yatra. Do not litter and make sure you put the organic waste into the green bins. If you disturb the environment or pollute it, you are liable to pay penalties as decided by the law.
- If any place is marked unsafe with warning signs, do not attempt to go there.
- Always follow the route of your team and do not embark on any route alone. This can be dangerous.
- Only use the lavatories installed en route.
- Never take any shortcut as it could be extremely dangerous.
- Slippers should not be worn on this trek, as there are several slippery surfaces that you need to walk on.
Besides all this, be willing to help fellow travelers and keep a calm and pious mind throughout the trek.