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Amarnath Tourism And Travel Guide
-14.1° C / 6.5° F
March to September
2 to 3 Days
Srinagar (141 kms)
Jammu (178 kms)
Located in the northern-most Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir at an altitude of 3888 m is the famous Amarnath Cave. About 141 km from the state capital of Srinagar, Amarnath is considered to be one of the holiest pilgrimage sites of the country. Every year in the months of July and August, an ice Shivalingam forms inside the Cave and then gradually melts away. It is truly a wonder and has hundreds and thousands of pilgrims thronging the caves for a glimpse of the lingam. Coupled with an adventurous journey, tourism in Amarnath is a complete package. Here is a snippet of travel guide to see in this holy site.
How to Reach
The nearest airport to Amarnath is in Srinagar. From here government buses and private cabs ferry tourists to Pahalgam, which is 70 km from the state capital. The actual trip to Amarnath begins here at Pahalgam. From here tourists can either avail of helicopter services to reach the cave or undertake the 45 km trek which usually takes about 3-4 days with halts at Chandanwari, Sheshnag and Panchtarni. Instead of Pahalgam, tourists can even reach Baltal for an alternate 15 km trek to the caves.
Amarnath does not boast of a railway station and the nearest railhead is at Jammu, located about 178 km from Amarnath. Jammu is well connected by rail with most major cities of the country. From here tourists can take buses or cabs to reach either Pahalgam or Baltal and consequently take a helicopter or trek up to the cave.
Given the treacherous nature of the terrain, there are no good roads connecting Amarnath to other cities. Tourists can reach till Baltal and Pahalgam by road and then they will have to rely on themselves for a trek up to the cave.
Getting by in Amarnath:
The major attraction in Amarnath is the Cave. People brave the difficult terrain and weather for a glimpse of the Shiva ling. Apart from this there isn’t much to see and people have to move around by foot, in palanquins or atop mountain ponies.
Weather and Best Time to Visit
Summer (March to June):
Summer is considered the best season for visiting Amarnath. The weather is amiable. It is neither too hot nor too cold. Most importantly, the cave where the Shivalingam appears every year remains covered with snow for major part of the year and becomes visible only during summer. The lingam too starts forming during the months of June and August, which signals the beginning of Amarnath Yatra.
Monsoon (July to September):
The Amarnath Yatra commences in July and continues till September. The Yatra coincides with the auspicious Hindu month of Shravana, the month where Shiva is worshipped with much pomp and show. Monsoon months often cause sudden unseasonal blizzards that could become fatal and hence necessary precautions are required while visiting Amarnath.
Winter (October to February):
Owing to high altitude, winters in Amarnath are extremely harsh. Temperatures dip well below the freezing point and everything gets covered with snow. These months witness heavy snowfall. It is recommended to not visit Amarnath during this time as trekking can prove to be very risky. The cave too remains covered with snow.
Things to Do
Trekking forms part of the journey to Amarnath cave unless one opts for helicopter services. From Srinagar or Jammu tourists will have to reach Pahalgam or Baltal, which are the starting points for the trek up to the cave. From Pahalgam it is a 45 km journey which takes 3-4 days with night halts at Chandanwari, Sheshnag and Panchtarni. Though a longer route, it is considered safer for families and aged people. From Baltal there is an alternate trail which is only a 15 km journey.
If in Pahalgam, try not to miss the opportunity for rafting in the white waters of the river. There are different programs tourists can choose from, ranging from less difficult to moderately difficulty. People can also choose the length of the journey from 2.5 km, 5 km and 8 km respectively. There are professional guides to help tourists go through this safely.
Pahalgam boasts of a magical nine-hole golf course where golf lovers can unwind. Set amidst beautiful surroundings, the golf course is every golfer’s dream. There is also a club that offers light refreshments.
Never had the opportunity to fly in a helicopter? This is your opportunity to fulfil your dream as chopper services are available from both Pahalgam and Baltal to reach Amarnath cave. The helicopter treats you to a magical ride across the valleys and mountains and the rugged terrain giving an aerial view of the surroundings. It is a journey of a lifetime to be cherished forever.
Shopping in Pahalgam
Though Srinagar offers more choices to shoppers as the state capital, tourists can nevertheless check out the main market area in Pahalgam. Tourists can opt for some Kashmiri carpets and handicrafts or pick up a pashmina shawl that is world famous. It is a beautiful souvenir take back home.
Eating in Pahalgam
Visiting a new place and not tasting the local cuisine is an unpardonable offence. While Amarnath does not offer many choices for obvious reasons, Pahalgam is the place to relish some mouthwatering local cuisine. Kashmir is popular for spices which add beautiful flavours to their food, along with gravies that are rich. There are many restaurants to choose from in Pahalgam - From Cafe Log Inn and Punjabi Rasoi to Dana Pani, Trout Beat, Nathus Rasoi, Volga and Palestine Restaurant.