Pilgrimage to Amarnath Cave located in Jammu & Kashmir in India is of great religious significance for Hindus. The deity, Lord Shiva resides in this cave shrine situated at more than 12000 ft above sea level and every year when the cave is accessible in the summer months, thousands of pilgrims brave the rigors of inhospitable terrain and possible bad weather to take “Darshan” or see the stalagmite formation in the shape of the “Shivalingam” inside the cave. This natural ice formation is considered to be the manifestation of Lord Shiva on earth and the holy cave is considered as the home where the Deity resides.

The Amarnath cave is located amidst the mountains that are perennially snow clad deep in the Lidder Valley and is considered to be the one of the twelve important places where the holy Shiva lingam shrines exist for people to offer their obeisance and devotion to the guardian and destroyer of all. The cave is inaccessible almost all through the year and is open only for a short time between 45 and 60 days in July and August. The ice lingam is seen at its full majestic height at the beginning of the pilgrimage and melts slowly and disappears in that period because of natural heat and the heat emanated by thousands of devotees who come to witness this natural phenomenon.

The Lingam

The Amarnath cave on the side of the mountain is 40 mtrs high (130 feet) and the stalagmite formed due to the freezing of droplets of water that fall from the roof of the cave and grows into a Lingam shape from the floor to almost the ceiling which is 40 mtrs high. The majestic formation that resembles the shape of the Lingam (which is the form in which Lord Shiva is worshipped) is considered as the representation of Shiva and is worshipped b Hindus. When the cave is opened for public worship in July, the Lingam is at its tallest height. It subsequently starts melting because of the heat of thousands of pilgrims and the summer heat.  

The Lingam is also believed to wax and wane as per the phases of the moon but this claim is not backed by evidence.

The pilgrimage to Amarnath Cave shrine is of great significance to Hindu devotees as it is believed that it was here that Lord Shiva told the great secret of everlasting life to his consort, Parvati. Two other stalagmites are also formed in the cave which is smaller than the main Shiva Lingam. These two stalagmites are worshipped as Parvati and son Ganesha.

Discovery of Holy Cave

The Hindu Holy Scriptures, the Puranas mentioned the existence of the Holy Cave in the Himalayas. Legend however gives the credit of finding the cave to a local shepherd called Buta Maalik. The tale told is that a once Buta Maalik was given a bag of coal by a saint and when he went home and opened the bag, he found that the bag was filled with gold coins instead. Buta wanted to thank the saint and looked for him everywhere but could not find him. While he was searching for the saint, he found the cave and the ice Shiv Lingam. He instantly realized it was Lord Shiva who had given him the bag of gold coins and wanted him to show the world the way to his holy cave. Buta did his bidding and announced the existence of the cave to the people in that area and soon it became a place of pilgrimage.


The Amarnath Cave Shrine is located in a narrow chasm at the farthest end of Lidder Valley at a height of 3888 mtrs. It is 46 Kms from Chandanwadi, Pahalgam and 16 Kms from Baaltal. Pahalgam is at a distance of 96 Kms from Srinagar and Baaltal is about 140 kms.


The summer months of July and August when the Yatra is held bear a possibility of rain at any time. One cannot predict the weather at all and bright sunshine can drastically change to chilly winds and rain at any time. The days are generally warm and in night, temperature could fall steeply and could even reach minus 5 degrees Centigrade.

Time & Duration of Yatra

The pilgrimage to Amarnath caves is conducted in the months of July and August each year. The exact dates and the duration are announced by the Government and the Amarnath Shrine Board depends upon the weather.


Devotees travel on foot, either from Baaltal or from Chandanwadi near Pahalgam. The journey takes 5 to 6 days. A helicopter service run by private operators but under the control of the Government has also commenced from Pahalgam and Baaltal to Panchtarni for a quick ride covering more than half of the trekking route. Booking for this service can be made in advance. This reduces the traveling time to one third.

There is regular bus service operated by State Road Transport Corporation and Private Transport Operators during the pilgrimage period from Jammu to Pahalgam and Baaltal. Devotees can use private taxis are available from Srinagar to reach Pahalgam or Baaltal from where the pilgrimage commences.

The trekking route from Baaltal is shorter and is around 16 kms. It is however steeper and more difficult than the route from Pahalgaon and Chandanwadi. Starting at Baaltal it goes through Domial, Baraari, and Sangam (where there are campsites) with the river Amaravathy (a tributary of the Chenab River) flowing on the side.

Clothing & Accessories

  • Track pants or trousers
  • T-Shirts
  • Sweatshirts
  • Sweaters / Jackets
  • Pair of woolen / Cotton socks
  • Hat (wool if cold) and sunglasses
  • Warm clothing (i.e. synthetic fleece)
  • Comfortable footwear
  • Toilet paper/tissue
  • Camera and film
  • Small notebook and pens

Useful Information and Tips

The Amarnath pilgrimage is organized by the Government of Jammu & Kashmir, usually in the summer months of July and August every year. The exact dates are announced in advance in the newspapers and other media. The pilgrimage begins from Pahalgam and Baaltal. A helicopter service run by private operators but under the control of the Government has also commenced from Pahalgam and Baaltal to Panchtarni for a quick ride covering more than half of the trekking route. Booking for this service can be made in advance.

Medical Assistance

To provide medical assistance to the pilgrims, medical posts or centers are established on the route that is equipped with basic medicines and medical staff consisting of doctors and nurses. However, these are only basic facilities that are provided fee for all pilgrims. Any special medicine that pilgrims need must be carried by their own selves.


The Government and the Shrine Board have made available necessary provisions at fair prices specified by the Government. These fair price shops and Government depots are set up at Chandanwadi, Sheshnaag and Panchtarni where the camps are located. Small dhabas and tea shops are on also set up on both the routes. It is better if pilgrims carry their own supply of snacks such as biscuits, chocolates, fruits, toffees, packaged food etc. to snack on the way. For those who wish to cook their own meals, firewood or LPG gas is available at the camps at Chandanwadi, Sheshnaag, Panchtarni and also near the Holy Cave.


As the pilgrimage has elements of risk and peril, it is advisable that pilgrims take insurance before undertaking the Yatra.


Accommodation in tents is provided by the JKTDC and some private parties at the camp sites and is available at nominal rates that are decided by the Government. Advance booking of these living facilities can be done at the base camp.


The Government announces the dates when the Amarnath Yatra will be conducted during the particular year. Every pilgrim that wants to undertake the pilgrimage has to be registered and gets a registration card which he or she has to carry on person throughout the period of the Yatra and this registration starts about a month before the Pilgrimage commences.

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Amarnath Yatra
Amarnath Yatra
Amarnath Yatra
Amarnath Yatra
Amarnath Yatra
Amarnath Yatra

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