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Every year the gates of Amarnath Yatra are opened for devotees of all age groups from all parts of the country. 3,888 meters above sea level, a natural and divine formation of Shiva Lingam in the Amarnath cave is what attracts devotees of Shiva, who climb through the steep and narrow mountains roads to witness this marvel.
Call it the devotion or the serenity of the deep valleys that make this rather difficult trek look easy in the eyes of the Yatris. Inside the 40 m high cave, a structure similar to the lingam forms from the freezing of the water droplets falling from the roof of the cave. After the summer season, the lingam melts which marks the end of the Amarnath Yatra.
For Amarnath Yatra 2021, the registrations are about to open on April 1st. From COVID restrictions to the registration process – here is everything you need to know about this year’s Yatra!
What is the legend of Amarnath?
As per the Hindu scriptures, the Amarnath Cave was where Lord Shiva was narrating Amar Katha to Goddess Parvati. To keep this a secret, he left his friends and companions on the way to the cave.
If the legends are to be believed then Shiva left Nandi, the bull at Pahalgam; the moon atop Shiva’s head at Chandanwari; the snake around his neck at Lake Sheshnag; the 5 basic essentials of life he carried at Panchtarni and his son – Lord Ganesha at Mahaguna top. These places now serve as stops for Yatris on their way to the holy cave.
The two routes of Amarnath
Route 1 via Baltal
Baltal–Domail–Barari Marg–Sangam–Amarnath Cave
The first route begins from Baltal and is the shortest route to reach the cave. Baltal is 14 km from Amarnath Cave. Pilgrims are not allowed to ride on ponies on this route. The trek via Baltal usually takes 1-2 days to complete. The trek is steep and the roads are narrow making the difficulty level of this route more than the other one. This route is usually preferred by youngsters and adventure seekers.
Route 2 via Pahalgam
Pahalgam–Chandanwari–Pissu Top–Sheshnag–Panchatarni–Amarnath Cave
The second route is also known as Pahalgam yatra. Starting from the serene village of Pahalgam, this route almost takes 5-6 days to reach the top. Pahalgam is 96 km from Srinagar. You can book a cab to reach Pahalgam to ensure a hassle-free transfer.
The valley of Chandanwari is about 16 km from Pahalgam. Pilgrims usually make their first stop at Pahalgam or Chandanwari. Starting from the valley of Chandanwari the pilgrims make their way to Pissu top as their next stop.
After crossing Pissu Top, pilgrims reach the Sheshnag, a mountain that derives its name from the mythical snake. Pilgrims usually stay over for a night at Sheshnag. The tents and camps are arranged by the authorities. Yatris take a bath in the Himalayan river to relax from travel fatigue.
Pilgrims then climb up the steep heights of the mountains to the meadowlands of Panchtarni. Five rivers believed to originate from Lord Shiva’s hair flow from Panchtarni. Located at a height of 3657 meters, a few travellers might feel the deficiency of oxygen here. In case of any discomfort, Yatris can avail the medical help available in Panchtarni. Panchtarni is the final stop before Yatris trek to the holy cave of Amarnath. The difficulty level of the trek is fairly easy and is preferred by most travellers of all age groups.
Why Amarnath Yatra?
Amarnath Yatra is one of the most important religious treks according to Hindu scriptures. On your way, you will meet pilgrims and fellow yatris who are devoted in the name of Lord Shiva. The trek is challenging and will take you through the breathtaking snow-capped mountains of the Himalayan range. The energetic chants by the devotees on the way creates a magical environment.
From the pristine water bodies, lush green terrains to narrow roads and the snowy stretch – there is no other way to experience the thrill of adventure and serenity of culture together. Whether you do it for religious purposes or just for the thrill of it, Amarnath Yatra is an experience of a lifetime![Also read: Tulip Festival in Srinagar]
Amarnath Yatra amidst COVID-19
The government officials have allowed the commencement of Amarnath Yatra for the year 2021. Registrations are set to begin on the 1st of April and can be done on the official site. In the wake of the pandemic, all yatris must need to produce a compulsory health certificate (CHC) and get their Yatra Permit before starting their Yatra.
Things to keep in mind
- Shri Amarnath Yatra Trust provides the pilgrims with all the possible facilities like tents, food, telecommunication, firewood. Medical help and is also available on the way. Make sure you keep the helpline number – 14464 or any other number provided to you at the start of the Yatra, handy at all times.
- The climate remains moderate during the time of the yatra. But make sure you carry your warmest clothes. You can also rent blankets from ‘shivirs’ or tents made for the convenience of the pilgrims.
- Amarnath Yatra 2021 will start on the 28th June 2021 and will end on 22nd August 2021. Registration begins on 1st April 2021. You can register by filling up this Yatra Permit form.
Must-haves for the Amarnath Yatra 2021
- All pilgrims for Amarnath Yatra 2021 need to have a valid health certificate. All certificates issued after March 15, 2021, would be valid.
- The health certificates must be issued by doctors/medical institutes authorized by the concerned state government/UT administrations.
- Persons under the age of 13 years or above the age of 75 years and women who are more than six weeks pregnant would not be allowed to register for this year’s yatra.
- Different colour coding will be assigned for the Yatra Permits for each day of the week and route. This is to facilitate the police personnel deployed at the Access Control Gates at Baltal and Chandanwari to regulate the yatra for the relevant date and route.
- Only the pilgrims, who have the yatra permit, valid for the specific date and route, will be allowed to proceed beyond the base camps.
- Yatris travelling by helicopter also need to produce the Health certificates before their specified date of travel.
How to reach Amarnath:
The nearest airport to both Pahalgam and Baltal is in Srinagar. Baltal is about 93 km and Pahalgam is about 96 km from Srinagar. You can then book an airport taxi to reach your hotel or homestay near your basecamp.
Jammu and Srinagar are well-connected to major cities by roads and gives you a sneak peek into the beauty of the valley. You can book a Delhi to Srinagar cab to ensure a safe journey.