Amarnath Dham Kashmir
Amarnath Dham is an important shrine associated with Lord Shiva. The cave of Amarnath is located at 3888m (12756 feet) above sea level. The cave is 40meter (130 feet) high and legend of this place is associated with a huge Snow ‘lingam’ formed during winters. The significance of the cave is also because it’s the place where Shiva discoursed on secrets of life and eternity to his wife Parvati.
All the places that fall between Pahalgam and Holy cave have significance. It’s said that Nandi the bull was left by Shiva in Pahalgam(Bail Gaon), he took off the moon from his hairs and left it at Chandanwari. On the banks of Sheshnag he left his snakes. At Mahagunas Parbat (Maha Ganesh mountains) he left his son Ganesha and at Panjtarni dropped five basic elements Earth, Water, Air, Fire & Sky. Symbolically he left the world and reached holy cave with Parvati and performed Tandava dance with her, this is where he informed Parvati of his immortality.
Discovery of Holy Cave Amarnath Dham
A shepherd is given the credit of discovering this Holy Cave. Hindu legend says that valley of Kashmir was under water. Kashyap Rishi drained the water through number of rivers and rivulets. In those days Bhrigu Rishi came that way on a visit to the Himalaya. He was the first to have Darshans of this Holy Cave. When people heard of the Lingam, Amarnath for them became Shiva’s abode and a pilgrimage.
How to reach
Amarnath Dham is 141 km from Srinagar, one has to pass Pahalgam and Anantnag towns. Foot journey starts from Pahalgam or Baltal. Shortest route is northern route from Baltal to Amarnath caves, that is 16 km. But its gradient is very steep and devotees who are physically in top condition can only dare to venture on this route. Mostly devotees start the climb from Pahalgam and cover 47 km in 5 days and reach the holy cave. In between the following places one pass through from Pahalgam to Holi Cave.
The yatris can hire mules to carry luggage and themselves too. The trek is very arduous and authorities allow devotees to go after medical test. Also it is suggested to train oneself with top fitness conditioning much before the journey commences. Still few unlucky ones die in between because of ill health or accidents. The Yatra begins in July and ends in August. This period is increased or decreased depending on weather conditions there.
The yatra is organized by Amarnath Dham Shrine Board and Jammu & Kashmir government. Many charitable organizations arrange free food, erect tents and resting Pandals for the devotees at various places in yatra. One must book online and take permit from Srinagar. The trust also has tents that can be rented for stay. One must stick to the norms prescribed by the organizers.