The journey to the Holy Cave of Lord Shiva is known as the Amarnath Yatra. This Yatra takes place every year in July and August. During the month of July and August, a natural Shivalingam (formed by ice) forms inside the cave and attains complete form on a full moon day. Two more ice sculptures are formed next to the Shivalingam that represent Parvati and their son, Ganesha. The route to the Amarnath caves is a tough trek and cannot be achieved by everyone.

About Amarnath Lord Shiva is renowned by many names. Amarnath is one of these names. Amarnath means ‘The Immortal God’. The Amarnath Holy Cave is located in the Himalayas at a very high altitude. This Holy Cave is dedicated to Lord Amarnath and is considered the most sacred temple of India. Many devotees believe that this Holy Cave is where Lord Shiva revealed the secret of immortality and creation. This secret was revealed to his wife and the daughter of the Himalayas, Goddess Parvati. The Amarnath Holy Cave is located almost 141 kms from Srinagar and approximately 45 kms from Pahalgam.

Things To Do The route to the Amarnath Holy Cave is a tough trek that cannot be undertaken by everyone. Every devotee has to undergo a medical test and only those considered fit are permitted to undertake the Amarnath Yatra. Visit to the Holy Cave is regulated and the darshan of the Holy Trinity is conducted in a speedy manner due to the number of pilgrims waiting to visit the ice-lingam (Shivalingam). Many devotees sing bhajans and chant incantations during the darshan. Priests are sene performing aarti and pooja seeking the blessing of Lord Shiva. Since the Amarnath Yatra sees pilgrims only during two months, the beauty of the track is maintained well. This route is extremely beautiful and unique. The Sheshnag Lake along the way is an added attraction. The Sheshnag Lake is surrounded by seven amazing identical peaks. These peaks are said to resemble the head of a mythological snake called Sheshnag.

Best Time To Visit The best time to visit the Holy Cave is during the month of July and August as the ice Shivalingam forms only during these two months. The Amarnath Yatra is organized by the Jammu & Kashmir State government. Registration can be done from any tourism office located in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Chennai, Hyderabad or Jammu & Kashmir.

The town of Katra and the temple of Vaishno Devi experience sub- tropical climate. Summers (March to June) in Katra are hot and humid, with temperature reaching 40 °C, though the temple area experiences cold nights. Monsoon starts in July and lasts till mid-September. Most of the precipitation occurs in the month of August, increasing the humidity levels. The post-monsoon months of September and October are quite pleasant, in comparison. Winter arrives in December and lasts till February. The weather is quite cold and the temperature reaches below 0 °C, accompanied by snowfall.

While the walk can be done throughout the year although, the peak season is during the summer (May-June), the New Year and the Navratra months in March-April and September-October. It is advisable to avoid the walk in the monsoon (late July to early September) when the road becomes slippery. The route is very cold in December and January, so it is better to start the walk at dawn.

All visitors need to register at the Yatra Registration Centres in Katra before leaving, and carry a registration slip with them. Online registration can also be done on the Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board's official website. The trek begins at the Banganga check post, situated at the foothills. Video cameras and other electronic equipment are not allowed beyond this point, so leave them behind in Katra. It is advisable to travel as light as possible during the climb, since food, water and blankets are easily available on the way.

The maximum number of pilgrims is limited to 30000-35000 a day. During the peak season when the numbers exceed this limit, waiting slips are issued. To avoid inconvenience, register online and check your waiting status from the website before travelling.



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