Amarnath Yatra - Though it is tough route still nearly one and a half lac pilgrims visit every year . The number of pilgrims is increasing every year. The journey from Jammu onward is by road and there are two routes .
Jammu to Pahalgam (315 km) - The distance between Jammu to Pahalgam can be covered by Taxi / Buses. These are available at Tourist Reception Centre, J & K Govt., Raghunath Bazaar only early in the morning. But one can also come to Srinagar by air and then move to Pahalgam by road PAHALGAM - HOLY CAVE.
It is 96 KM from Srinagar .This distance can be covered by car,bus or taxi. Pahalgam is known all over the world for its beauty. It is small town situated on the banks of Lidder River. It is surrounded by high mountains. All essentials can be bought here. Good Hotels are available for accommodation. However the arrangements for stay and Langar are also made by the Non Government Service Organisations.
The distance from Pahalgam to Chandanwari is 16km. The route is good .It can be covered by road transport also. Mini buses are also available from Pahalgam to reach Chandanwari. The trail runs along the Lidder River . The route is scenic. Food is available here. Pilgrims camp at Pahalgam or Chandanwari on the first night
As the Yatra proceed further from Chandanwari one climbs a height to reach Pissu Top. It is said that to be first to reach for darshan of Bhole Nath Shivshankar there was a war between Devtas and Rakshas . With the power of Shiv , devtas could kill the rakshas in such large number that the heap of their dead bodies has resulted in this high mountain .
This second day's trek of 12 kms from Chandanwari is through Pissu Top and spectacular, primeval countryside, and reaches Sheshnag - a mountain which derives its name from its Seven Peaks, resembling the heads of the mythical snake. The Journey to Sheshnag follows steep inclines on the right bank of a cascading stream and wild scenery untouched by civilisation. The second night's camp at Sheshnag overlooks the deep blue waters of Sheshnag lake, and glaciers beyond it. There are legends of love and revenge too associated with Sheshnag, and at the camp these are narrated by campfires . The stillness of a pine scented Himalayan night increases your inner joy. Yatris can take bath and get their fatigue alleviated. It is beautiful and scenic.
From Sheshnag one has to climb steep height up across Mahagunas Pass at 4276 mtrs.(14000 ft) for 4.6 KM and then descending to the meadow lands of Panchtarni at a height of 3657 mtrs (12000 ft). The last camp enroute to the Holy Cave is made here on third day. Here one faces cold winds which cause the skin to crack . Hence cold cream / Vaseline are very useful for protection of skin. Some Yatris are also effected by deficiency of oxygen .Some may get the feeling of vomiting . So dry fruit like Allu Bukhara ,sour and sweet eatables like Lemon are useful to control these symptoms . The route to Mahagunas is full of rivulets , water falls , springs . Panchtarni is a very beautiful place in the feet of BHAIRAV MOUNT. Five Rivers flow here . It is said that the five rivers origanated from Lord Shiva's Hairs (Jataon). Pilgrims camp at Panchtarni on the 3rd night .
THE HOLY CAVE SHRI AMARNATH:
The Holy Cave of Shri Amarnath is only 6 kms from Panchtarni. As there is no place to stay hence the pilgrims start in the early hours of the morning after their stay at Panchtarni. On the way to The Holy Cave one comes across the Sangam of Amravati and Panchtarni. Some pilgrims take bath at Amravati near holy cave to become pious before going for Darshan. Near the cave is found white soil known as Bhasam. It is the most beloved soil of Shiv ji . The pilgrims apply this Holy soil to their body and then go for Shivlingam Darshan. There are two smaller Shivlings one of Maa Parvati and other of Shri Ganesh. It may be noted that after having early Darshan of the Shivlinga at Holy Cave one can return to Panchtarni well in time the same day . Some pilgrims camp at Panchtarni while others continue their journey and reach back Sheshnag by the same evening .