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Old 25th July 2013, 12:22   #1
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Default Amarnath Yatra 2013 - Spiritual Sojourn on Foot

This is the travelogue of my Amarnath Yatra 2013, undertaken from the 9th of July to the 11th of July. Both days inclusive.

General Warning - The yatra tests you physically and mentally. Discretion is advised.

Helpful Links :

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amarnath_yatra
http://www.amarnathyatra.org/
http://shriamarnathjishrine.com/

The complete distance was covered on foot, started from Chandanwadi at 6 am on July 9th 2013 and ending in Baltal on July 11th 2013.
Total distance covered - Approx 46 kms
The yatra can be undertaken on horseback (Approx Rs. 2000), Doli (Approx Rs. 4000/- ) and Chopper Services (Rs. 3000/- for a return trip)

The Legend about the importance of Amarnath Cave is as follows :-

This Cave was chosen by Bhole Shankar for narrating the secrets of immortality and creation of Universe to Maa Parvati ji . The story goes like this . Centuries ago Maa Parvati asked Shiv ji to let her know why and when He started wearing the beads of heads ( Mund Mala) . Bhole Shankar replied when ever you are born I add one more head in my beads . Maa Parvati said ," My Lord, my body is destroyed every time and I die again and again, but you are Immortal. Please let me know the secret of this ." Bhole Shankar replied that it is due to Amar Katha ."

Maa Parvati insisted that she may be told that secret. For long Shiva ji continued postponing . Finally on consistent demand from Maa Parvati He made up his mind to tell the immortal secret . He started for lonely place where no living being could listen it . He choose Amarnath Cave . In preparation to that He left His Nandi ( The Bull which He used to ride ) at Pahalgam (Bail gaon) . At Chandanwari He released Moon from his hairs (Jataon). At the banks of Lake Sheshnag He released the snakes . He decided to leave his Son Ganesha at Mahagunas Parvat (Mahaganesh Hill ) . At Panjtarni, Shivji left the Five Elements behind (Earth , Water, Air , Fire and Sky) which make living being . He is the Lord of these elements. It is believed that as a symbol of sacrificing the earthly world , Shivaji and Maa Parvati had Tandav Dance . After leaving behind all these, Bhole Shankar enters the Holy Amarnath Cave along with Parvati Maa . Lord Shiva takes his Samadhi on the Deer Skin and concentrate . To ensure that no living being is able to hear the Immortal Tale , He created Rudra named Kalagni and ordered him to spread fire to eliminate every living thing in and around the Holy Cave . After this He started narrating the secret of immortality to Maa Parvati . But as a matter of chance one egg which was lying beneath the Deer skin remained protected . It is believed to be non living and more over it was protected by Shiva -Parvati Asan (Bed) . The pair of pigeons which were born out of this egg became immortal having listened the secret of immortality (Amar Katha).
Many pilgrims report seeing the pair of pigeons when they trek the arduous route to pay their obeisance before the Ice-Lingam (the phallic symbol of Shiva).

Discovery of Holy Cave
The story narrated by people about the discovery of this Holy Cave is of a Gujjar ( shepherd) Buta Malik . He is given the credit of discovering this Holy Cave . Story goes like this , that a saint gave Buta Malik a bag full of Coal. On reaching his home when he opened the bag , to his utter surprise the bag was full of gold coins . This made him overwelmed with joy. He ran to thank the Saint . But, what he found was that the Saint had disappeared . Instead , he found The Holy Cave and Shiv Lingam there in . He announced the discovery of this to the Villagers. Then onwards this has become the sacred place of Pilgrimage .
The ancient epics narrate an other story which goes like this. The valley of Kashmir was under water .It was a big lake. Kashyap Rishi drained the water through number of rivers and rivulets . In those days Bhrigu Rishi came that way on a visit to The Himalyas. He was the first to have Darshans of this Holy Cave . When people heard of the Lingam, Amarnath for them became Shiva's abode and a Centre of pilgrimage . Since then Lacs of devotees perform the pilgrimage through tough terrain and avail eternal happiness.
The trek to Amarnath, in the month of sharavan ( July–August) has the devout flock to this incredible shrine, where the image of Shiva, in the form of a Lingam, is formed naturally of an Ice Stalagmite, which waxes and wanes with the Moon's cycle . By its side are fascinating, two more Ice Lingams, that of Maa Parvati and of their son, Ganesha .

Being on a forced sabbatical from work, I jumped at the prospect of undertaking the holy yatra when one of my friends suggested the same.
Due to the unfortunate events at the Chardham Yatra, the original team of 22 whittled down to just 2. I joined the 2 to make it a team of 3.

There was a lot of adventure righ from the start of the trip ill the end, however will concentrate only on the yatra. Will definitely be able to help with suggestions wherever possible.


Will let the pictures do most of the talking. Although they do not do justice to the real thing.

Moderators - Please merge this travelogue with the exisiting thread if needed.

http://www.team-bhp.com/forum/travel...ly-2011-a.html (Of Spirituality & Treacherous Terrains - Amarnath Yatra 30th June-3rd July 2011)

Day 1 - Chandanwadi to Pissu Top
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Old 25th July 2013, 12:31   #2
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Default Re: Amarnath Yatra 2013 - Spiritual Sojourn on Foot

Some more pictures on the trek to Pissu Top. This part is one of the most difficult trek since it's almost a vertical climb up the mountain. Also, since the path is treacherous because of the muck and the horses and Palkhiwalas make it frustrating.
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Old 25th July 2013, 15:00   #3
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Wonderful! Thank you Mayur for sharing this wonderful experience. Looking at 14 and 15 no pictures one can guage the steepness of the hill. Wanted to know if this the only way to climb up and also come down? or there is another way for the devotees to climb down? I hope you had good Darshan since there were reports that the Shivling started melting due to hot weather conditions.

Keep it coming.

Luv,
Manjunath
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Old 25th July 2013, 18:35   #4
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Default Re: Amarnath Yatra 2013 - Spiritual Sojourn on Foot

@ Manjunath, Thanks for the supportive words.

Yes, the climb from Chandanwadi to Pissu Top is just 3 kms but indeed extremely steep.

Amarnath Yatra can be done from 2 ways - From Chandanwadi (16 Kms from Pahalgam) and From Baltal (110 Kms from Srinagar)

From Chandanwadi, the holy cave is 32 kms and enroute you'll get to see Sheshnag and Maha Ganesh Parbat. On a scale of 10, the difficulty of the trek is 6-7.

From Baltal, the holy cave is 14 kms and the ascent is extremely steep and the path keeps climbing till about 2 kms from the shrine. On a scale of 10, the difficulty of the trek is 9.

We started from Chandanwadi and got down at Baltal, covering both the routes.

Yes, the Shivlings have shrunk. Earlier, they used to be about 14 feet in height but this time they were 8-9 feet. By Shivlings, I mean all 3 symbolising Mahadev, Parvati and Ganesh.

Will post more pictures soon.
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Old 25th July 2013, 19:03   #5
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Default Re: Amarnath Yatra 2013 - Spiritual Sojourn on Foot

Day 1 - Pictures from Pissu Top to Sheshnag Camp

Started the yatra from Pahalgam, Apparently it used to be known as Bailgaon. This is in reference to Lord Shiva leaving behind his trusted lieutenant - Nandi the bull in this place. A few people do start their trek from Pahalgam itself however there are taxis plying from Pahalgam to Chandanwadi at Rs. 90/- per seat covering the distance of approx 16 kms in about 15 mins. One word of caution though, these drivers are absolutely reckless and speed around the hairpin bends like maniacs. The view is breathtaking and enroute you will pass the valley made famous by the movie 'Betaab' which introduced Sunny Deol and Amrita Singh to the acting fraternity . The valley has been named 'Betaab Valley'. Apologise for not having any pictures, since I was hanging on to dear life in the speeding Sumo.
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Old 25th July 2013, 19:06   #6
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Default Re: Amarnath Yatra 2013 - Spiritual Sojourn on Foot

Some more pictures of Sheshnag and Sheshnag Camp
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Last edited by mayurpalav : 25th July 2013 at 19:06. Reason: Spelling error
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Old 28th July 2013, 00:35   #7
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Default Re: Amarnath Yatra 2013 - Spiritual Sojourn on Foot

Northern Hills are a charm. No matter its LEH or Ladakh or Amarnath, they have not even once failed to evoke my interests.

Thanks a lot for sharing the TL. Please keep it coming. Also the pics have come out really well .

Whatever is not achieved is a dream, doing a trip to these hills are also one of my long forgotten dreams.

Drive safe.

Cheers.
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Old 29th July 2013, 12:11   #8
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Default Re: Amarnath Yatra 2013 - Spiritual Sojourn on Foot

@ Voyageur - Appreciate your kind words.

Yes, the northern hills do evoke a different kind of a feeling for a urban junkie like me. The pics have been clicked on a point and shoot Fujifilm camera, but they have turned out well.

Day 2 - Sheshnag - Mahagunas Parbat - Posh Pathri - Panchtarini

Very scenic route and along the way passed the highest point - Maha Ganesh Parbat in the trek at around 14,500 feet above sea level. The weather changes at the drop of a hat though, when we left the Sheshnag camp it was sunny however within 5 minutes the complete path was filled by clouds and it stared to drizzle. Because of which the walking conditions became treacherous. Things improved in the afternoon towards Panchatarini. The sun was shining brightly when we reached the base camp in the evening.
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Old 29th July 2013, 12:15   #9
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Default Re: Amarnath Yatra 2013 - Spiritual Sojourn on Foot

Day 2 - Part 2. You can make out the difference in the weather in the pictures to follow. It was dark and gloomy near Mahaganesh Parbat while it was bright and Sunny at Panchtarini. The weather is very fickle and changes at the drop of a hat.
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Old 29th July 2013, 14:20   #10
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Default Re: Amarnath Yatra 2013 - Spiritual Sojourn on Foot

Hi Mayur

Thanks for sharing. Hopefully next year I should be able to make it .

So the Pahalgam route has 2 camps for overnight stay, right? Sheshnag and Panchtarini? Looking at the huge number of pilgrims, are there enough camps to stay?
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Old 30th July 2013, 12:07   #11
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@ Dodge_Viper.

Makes sure all you plan the trip well in advance and make sure that the permit's are in place.

As a result of the calamity in Uttarakhand, the security for Amarnah yatra has been tightened. You can undertake the yatra only on the basis of a valid permit on the specified date.

Yes, there are 2 camps for overnight stay, Sheshnag and Panchtarini.
Also, In case you decide to enter from Chandanwadi. There is a Nuwaan base camp near Pahalgam.

Apparently, the number of pilgrims this year has dwindled because of the Uttarakhand calamity. But there is enough room to accommodate atleast 10k (atleast) at each of the 2 camps enroute.

More pics of day 3 coming up....
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Old 30th July 2013, 18:58   #12
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Day 3 - Panchtarini - Amarnath - Baltal

The final day of the Yatra, a semi difficult trek of 6 kms from Panchtarini to the holy cave. Just want to mention here that yatris coming in by helicopter have to trek the final 6 kms since the helipad is in Panchtarini. Porters and horses ar available throughout the route so you can exercise the option if so required. With the sun out in all its glory, the vistas were absolutely beautiful.
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Old 30th July 2013, 21:27   #13
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Day 3 - Panchatrini to Holy Cave to BaltalAmarnath Yatra 2013 - Spiritual Sojourn on Foot-65.jpg

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Needless to say no cameras were allowed at the shrine. Almost everyone during the darshan witnessed the pair of mythical doves at the shrine.
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Old 30th July 2013, 21:31   #14
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The final batch of pictures. These include the descent to Baltal after darshan at the holy shrine.
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