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Amarnath Temple, Jammu (India)

Amarnath is considered to be one of the major Hindu Dhams. Amarnath temple is situated 145 km from Srinagar, the capital of the North Indian state of Jammu & Kashmir. The Amarnath Yatra is organised every year by the Jammu & Kashmir Government during the month of “sharavan” i.e. in July - August. Chandanwari is the starting point of the Amarnath Yatra and the destination is Amaranth Cave , which is supposed to the abode of Lord Shiva. One can reach Chandanwari by car or by bus but from Chandanwari onwards the track becomes much steeper and can be accessed only on foot or by pony. Located 11-km from Chandanwari is the lake of Sheshnag, after which 13-km away is the last stop, Panchtarni . The Amarnath cave is 6-km away from there. Even if one's visit to Pahalgam is not during the period of the Yatra, one can still take a pony ride up to Sheshnag Lake and can return back by late night. the Amarnath Cave is considered holy by Hindus. Shiva, in the form of a lingam, is formed naturally of an ice - stalagmite One of the holy trinity, Shiva is a living god. The most ancient and sacred book of India, the Rig Veda evokes his presence in its hymns. Vedic myths, ritual and even astronomy testify to his existence from the dawn of time. Every year a giant stalagmite or pillar of ice in the shape of a phallus, forms within this cave. This ice pillar is worshipped as a lingam - a symbol of Shiva - and thousands of pilgrims travel across the mountains to pray at the holy Amarnath cave shrine. For the “Yatra” to Amarnath one has to trek a height of about 14,500 ft. Surrounded by beautiful valleys and mountains, one can enjoy the serenity of this hill station. It is a journey that will rediscover the nature and its marvels. Lord Shiva is known to have made his home in the Himalayas. He built no house nor shelter, not for himself or his bride. He was an ascetic, and yet married; he could be both for "he was the wild god sporting in the forest or taking his ease on a cloud."

amarnath The Amarnath Yatra, according to Hindu beliefs, begins on Ashadha Poornima (Full Moon Day of Hindu Month 'Ashadha') and ends on Shravana Poornima (Full Moon Day of Hindu Month 'Shravana'). The two-month Yatra for the year 2007 began on July 1, 2007 amidst tight security and adverse weather conditions. The temple is reported to be about 5000 years old and has been mentioned in ancient Hindu texts. The exact discovery of the cave is not clear, though it is commonly believed that a Gujjar (natives of Kashmir) shepherd found the cave and was given a bag by a saint in it. When he returned home he found them to be gold coins, and this got the entire village excited and believed that the cave is the home to the Lord. Another legend says that an Hindu rishi, Kashyap drained the lake of Kashmir and found the cave along with the lingam in it. This latter legend might be alluding to the geological transformation of this region, when the massive sea in this part was compressed by the Indian geological plate to form the Himalayas. "The Himalayan pilgrimages are the oldest organised travel system, evolved over time by Hindu sages and embodying the spirit of wander, adventure and spirituality" Legend has it that Shiva recounted to Parvati the secret of creation in the Amarnathji cave. Unknown to them, a pair of mating pigeons eavesdropped on this conversation and having learned the secret, are reborn again and again, and have made the cave their eternal abode. Many pilgrims report seeing the pigeons-pair when they trek the arduous route to pay obeisance before the ice-lingam (the phallic symbol of Shiva).

How to Reach
Amarnath is not directly linked by road or rail. The nearest airport is at Srinagar (145 km), which is connected to Delhi and other Indian cities. Jammu (300 km) is the common starting point for the Amarnath Yatra and is connected by road, rail and air to all major Indian cities. Reaching Amarnath is not an easy trek due to the difficult weather conditions and the steep climb up along the Himalayas. Porters, Ponies and Dandies (Chairs carried by porters) are available along the route.

  • Do's and Don'ts for Pilgrims (Yatries) Do carry sufficient heavy wollens including sweaters, wollen thermal body warmers, trousers, monkey caps, muffelers and any other cold fighting apparels. Other items needed to be carried are wind cheaters,raincoats, sleeping bags, blankets,water proof shoes with sufficient grips,small water proof tents, torch with sufficient batteries and walking sticks. Ladies are advised to avoid sarees. Instead body hussging clothing like salwar Kamiz, pants etc are advised.
  • Please ensure that you are physically and mentally fit to perform the journey as the Yatra involves trekking at an altitude of 14000ft. Get yourself medically examined and certified fit for the journey and forward the certificate to the registerin authority designated for your area of residence.
  • Carry dry eatable stocks with you viz. biscuits, sugar,candies, chocolates, milk powder, assorted dry fruits,pickles, honey,lemons and tinned foods and other items suiting your palates. Water bottle, spoons,tumblers,saucers and plates may also be carried.
  • Yatries without registration card, Aged,infirm, ailing and ill clad persons will not be allowed to proceed beyond Pahalgam and Baltal. Ration and firewood quota is also made available enroute and can be purchased.
  • Ponies carrying luggage and eatables should remain with you all the time. At no point of time should you get out of touch with them. This is to avoid inconvinience.
  • Move slowly and steadily as this is a ardous pilgrimage and maintain discipline. Instructions of Yatra officer should be adhered to.Various officials are deployed by the Govt. for your help.
  • Carry sufficient money to pay for your accomodation at Pahalgam and meeting your other requirements.
  • All medical facilities during yatra are free. It is advisable to carry your own personal medical kit and First aid box.
  • Don't overstarin on steep gradients.
  • Alcohol is strictly prohibited.
  • Don't realx at places where warning signes are fixed.
  • Don't break traffic discipline.
  • Do not pay more to any of the hired services for which the prices are fixed.
  • Registered ponywalla,porter,dandyman may only be hired. They are available for prefixed tarrifs.

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