The Amarnath yatra attracts lakhs of pilgrims every year who visit the site during Shravani Mela in July-August (Shravan month in Hindu calendar) – the only time in the whole year when the Amarnath Cave is accessible. The cave is placed at an altitude of 3,888m, about 141 km from Srinagar, the capital of Jammu and Kashmir and reached through Pahalgam town. The shrine has an important part to play in Hinduism and is considered to be one of the holiest shrines. The annual ‘Amarnath Yatra’ is marked by ‘Pratham Pujan’ which is said to invoke the blessings of Baba Amarnath.
Moreover, since the ice is collected from the water dripping from the top of the cave due to the melting of the ice on top of it, the ‘lingam’ reaches a maximum around July-August when the ice caps around the cave are melting. Water seeps into the rocks that form the cave and progressively fade thereafter. As per the religious beliefs, it has been claimed that the lingam grows and shrinks with the phases of the moon reaching its height during the summer festival.
Amarnath Yatra Registration Process 2023
- The registration will be on a first come first serve basis.
- Every yatri has to submit an application form and a compulsory health certificate (CHC) along with the required documents to obtain the yatra permit. The forms can be downloaded from here
- These forms will also be available free of cost at the registration branch of the bank. Here is the complete list of — approved bank branches for 2023
- Since 2014, the SASB has also initiated a ‘group registration scheme’ for yatris intending to travel with friends, family or neighbours. Details of registration for NRIs/ex-yatri have been made available here – http://www.shriamarnathjishrine.com/
Travelling to Amarnath: How To Reach Amarnath Yatra Base
The State Transport and the private operators provide bus services from Jammu to Pahalgam and Baltlal. These are the two places from where you start the Amarnath Yatra.
Two Routes to Amarnath
The Northern route is 14 km long and is shorter. It is steep, hence difficult to climb. It starts at Baltal. The longer, easier and more traditional one passes through Srinagar.
The devotees start the Amarnath Yatra from Srinagar or Pahalgam on foot and take one of the two possible routes. The shorter but steeper trek via Baltal, Domial, Barari and Sangam is 14 km long and allows people to take a round trip in 1-2 days. However, ponies are not allowed on this route due to safety reasons. One has to either walk or be carried on ‘Dandies’ (carried on a seat atop shoulders of other people). This Amarnath Yatra route is considered more favourable for returning back from the shrine than on the way up as steep slope is said to cause serious health problems among un-acclimatised visitors. Young, healthy and people looking for adventure amidst the religious trip happen to take this trek.
The longer Amarnath Yatra route via Pahalgam is generally preferred by most of the devotees. The length of the trek varies from 36 to 48 km depending upon the devotion of the pilgrim. The trek usually takes 3-5 days one way. The Amarnath route is much wider than the Baltal trek and slopes gradually. However, one will also find it crowded by ponies for almost the whole of the route. Aged, sick or people with a past history of illnesses are advised to take this yatra route.
Both the routes, however, allow for the best possible facilities in the conditions, thanks largely to the efforts of Indian Army, Central Government and State Government Police Forces for both security and facilities. Apart from government-provided facilities, various non-profit organizations and private companies also place stalls along the way which are the resting camps for the pilgrims. There is a continuous supply of food in these pandals. The overall organization of the yatra, however, is carried out by Shri Amarnath Yatra trust which provides services like telecommunication, power supply, firewood etc. Mobile phones are of no use in the area and it would be wise to leave them behind. Online Helicopter bookings can be made in advance.
The efforts of the concerned agencies (both government and private) make the trek to Amarnath much easier than it used to be a few years ago with the lack of any facilities at all. However, despite all the medical support, fair price shops and power utilities, the Amarnath Yatra Route is one of the harshest pilgrim routes in India and takes a toll on many lives every year. To minimize the losses, a compulsory health check-up is carried out for all pilgrims allowing only healthy people to go through. Despite this, extreme weather, natural disasters and road accidents are frequent. None of this, however, deters the faithful followers of Lord Shiva from taking this perilous journey every year with joy.