There are two main routes through which pilgrims can visit the Amarnath Temple in Jammu and Kashmir, India:
Pahalgam to Amarnath Route:
This route is longer than the Baltal route but is considered more scenic and less steep. The route passes through beautiful valleys and scenic meadows, and the pilgrims can witness the natural beauty of the Kashmir valley. The trek starts from Chandanwari, which is about 16 km from Pahalgam, and the journey can take up to 3-4 days to complete, depending on the pace of the trek.
Some of the major halting points on this route include Pissu Top, Sheshnag, and Panchtarni. The Sheshnag Lake is also a popular attraction for pilgrims on this route. The trek ends at the Amarnath Cave, where the holy ice lingam is situated.
Baltal to Amarnath Route:
This route is shorter and steeper than the Pahalgam route, and is preferred by pilgrims who are short on time or who want to experience a more challenging trek. The trek starts from Baltal, which is about 14 km from the base camp of Sonamarg. The trek to the cave can be completed in a day or two, depending on the pace of the trek.
Some of the major halting points on this route include Domail, Barari, and Sangam. The trek ends at the Amarnath Cave, where the holy ice lingam is situated.
Both routes have basic facilities like food and accommodation available at regular intervals. However, the pilgrims should carry their own essential supplies like warm clothing, rain gear, and medicines, as the weather can be unpredictable in the region. It is also important to undertake the trek under the guidance of experienced guides and to follow all safety guidelines issued by the authorities..
Srinagar is the nearest airport to the Amarnath Temple, and it is well-connected to major cities in India. From Srinagar, pilgrims can reach the base camp of the Amarnath Yatra by road or helicopter.
By road, the distance from Srinagar to Pahalgam (the starting point of the traditional Pahalgam route) is approximately 95 km, and it takes around 3-4 hours to cover this distance. From Pahalgam, pilgrims can start the trek to the Amarnath Cave.
Alternatively, pilgrims can take a helicopter from Srinagar to the Neelgrath helipad near Baltal (the starting point of the Baltal route). The helicopter ride takes around 30 minutes to reach Neelgrath, and from there, pilgrims can undertake the trek to the Amarnath Cave.
It is important to note that the Amarnath Yatra is a challenging trek, and the altitude can cause altitude sickness in some individuals. Pilgrims should consult their doctors before embarking on the yatra and should undertake the trek under the guidance of experienced guides. They should also follow all safety guidelines issued by the authorities to ensure a safe and successful yatra.