Amarnath Yatra (File Photo)
All necessary arrangements are in place as the first batch of Amarnath pilgrims are all set to leave for Kashmir amid tight security on Sunday, a day ahead of the formal commencement of the annual pilgrimage to the holy Himalayan shrine. The 46-day long yatra will start on July 1, which marks the Masik Shivratri, and would conclude on August 15, the day of Shravan Purnima. Over 1.5 lakh pilgrims from across the country have so far registered for the pilgrimage, which takes place from the traditional 36-km Pahalgam track in Anantnag district and 14-km Baltal route in Ganderbal district. Hundreds of pilgrims, including sadhus (saints), have started arriving in Jammu and are enthusiastic about undertaking the pilgrimage.
Meanwhile, days ahead of the commencement of the much-awaited Yatra, here we bring you the routes, dates, requirements, safety tips and other essential details regarding the annual pilgrimage to the holy shrines of Amarnath.
How To Reach Amarnath Yatra Base:
The State Transport and different private operators ensure bus services between Jammu and Pahalgam and Baltlal, from where devotees start the Amarnath Yatra.
Routes for Amarnath Yatra:
Devotees start the Amarnath Yatra from Srinagar or Pahalgam on foot and take one of the two possible routes. The 14 km long Northern route, which starts from Baltal, is shorter, but difficult to climb due to an almost vertical slope. It passes through the routes of Baltal, Domial, Barari and Sangam and allows people to take a round trip in 1-2 days. However, this route is considered ideal for returning back from the shrine as the steep slope can cause serious health problems among unexperienced vsitors while they are on their way up. Generally, young, healthy and experienced trekers take this trek for a fun-filled and adventerous trip.
The longer route for the Amarnath Yatra passes through Pahalgam and is preferred by most of the devotees. The length of the trek varies from 36 to 48 km and takes 3-5 days to reach the shrine. This route is much wider than the Baltal trek and slopes gradually. However, one will find it crowded with aged, sick and people suffering from some illness taking this route for Amarnath Yatra. Ponies are also allowed in this route unlike the Baltal route.
Facilities provided in Baltal and Pahalgam route:
However, authorities provide best possible security and facilities for pilgrims in both the routes with help of Indian Army, Central Government and State Government Police Forces. Besides, various non-profit and private organisations place resting camps along the way. Stalls are being set up for continuous supply of food to the pilgrims. Shri Amarnath Yatra trust, which organises the entire pilgrimage, also provides services like medical support, telecommunication, power supply and firewood among others. For those unserved, mobile phones do not work in the area and, therefore, online helicopter bookings and other necessary arrangements should be completed before leaving for the yatra.
Keeping in mind the extreme weather, natural disasters and frequent road accidents, concerned agencies carry out compulsory health check-up for the pilgrims. However, the risky routes and the possibility of disaters do noe deter the faithful followers of Lord Shiva from taking this perilous journey every year with joy.
Amarnath Yatra In Helicopter:
Starting Point: Baltal helipad
For Pahalgam-Panjtarni-Pahalgam route
Provider name and website:
Himalayan Heli Services Pvt. Ltd - www.himalayanheli.com
Price: One-way ticket fare on this route- INR 2950 per person.
Starting Point: Pahalgam helipad
Timings for all rides are according to service providers and should be strictly adhered to.
However, the price can vary from year to year.
Pilgrims are allowed to do a maximum of 5 bookings against a single debit/credit card. The same card cannot be used for booking for the next 3 weeks. The debit/credit card used for booking are required to reproduce at the time of issuing a boarding pass.
In the view of safety purpose, children below 13 years, elderly people above 75 years and ladies more than 6 weeks pregnant are not allowed to undertake the pilgrimage.
All pilgrims/travellers intending to avail helicopter services for Amarnath Yatra are should show a Compulsory Health Certificate (CHC), issued by authorised doctors/institutions, as instructed by the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB). The list of authorised doctors/institutions are available on the official website well in time before the commencement of advance bookings.
No pilgrim/traveller shall be allowed to board the helicopter without submitting a CFC, issued on the specified date. Any CFC issued before/after the specified date will be considered invalid.