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Location- Jammu Kashmir
Nearest airport- The nearest airport is at Srinagar 67km.
Nearest rail head- The nearest railway station is at Pahalgam
Amarnath located in Jammu Kashmir is one of the holiest shrines for Hindus across the world and is visited each year by hundreds of pilgrims. The Amarnath cave, the Shiva shrine is located at an elevation of more than 12000ft, is covered with snow for most part of the year and opens during the summer for pilgrims to seek its blessings.
According to Hindu belief Shiva the Destroyer was asked by his wife Parvati the secret of immortality. On her continuous insistence Shiva agreed to reveal the secret to her but took her to a remote mountain cave in order for no other living being to hear it. On the way he left Nandi the bull at Pahalgam, the moon from his hair was released at Chandanwari, at Sheshnag peak the snake around his neck was let off, Lord Ganesha was left at the Mahagunas or Mahaganesh Hills and at Panchtarni Shiva left behind all the five elements to ensure that he entered the cave alone with Parvati. Inside the cave he built a fire that would destroy all living beings and only then did he disclose the secret to Parvati. However, a pigeon’s egg was hidden under Shiva’s deerskin and was left unharmed by the fire. Even today pilgrims can see a pair of pigeons nesting here and hence the name Amarnath , the story of the immortal.
How to reach
Air: The nearest airport is at Srinagar 67km. Rail: The nearest railway station is at Pahalgam from where usually the Amarnath Yatra commences. Road: The roads leading to Amarnath are a bit treacherous and the road from Baltal is the shortest trek to the cave. From Pahalgam the trek to Amarnath takes usually 3 to 5 days. State and private transport busses and cabs are available from Srinagar to Baltal and Pahalgam.
Things to do
Amarnath is synonymous with the Amarnath cave and the exodus towards it is called the Amarnath Yatra, which is deemed as one of the holiest for Hindus and is a means of getting rid of sins and attaining salvation. The Amarnath Cave is home to the snow Shiva Linga that is formed by the freezing of the water droplets that fall from the roof of the cave. It melts during summer and rebuilds during the colder months. However, according to Hindu belief the linga melts and freezes according to the path of the moon. When the iced stalagmite Shiva Linga reaches the zenith of its waxing phase, is when the pilgrim season occurs. Devotees usually travel on foot along the arduous stretch of the mountain route to reach the cave and can take up to 5 days. Ponies and palkies are also available for those who cannot make the journey on foot.
Amarnath is for those seeking spiritual solace and has a very deep rooted connection to Hindu beliefs. However, apart from the celestial connect, there are places around Amarnath that can be visited as a tourist attraction and are known for their splendid landscapes and environment. Baltal is where the pilgrims halt and serves as the best base camp for the yatra. Pahalgam on the banks of the Lidder River is a gorgeous town with lush greenery, towering mountains and a cool climate. Other tourist destinations close to Amarnath, include Sonamarg, Srinagar, Gulmarg, Jammu and Ladakh. Amarnath Yatra and a visit to the Amarnath Cave is a moving spiritual experience that will also shake the non-believers. The emotions of the divine coupled with the magnificent celestial like surroundings make the Amarnath tour a must for all those who are religiously inclined.
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