Amarnath Yatra By Helicopter – Your Key To An Enjoyable Pilgrimage!
Amarnath Yatra is all about paying reverence to Lord Shiva who dwells there in the form of ice stalagmite aka ice shivalinga. The article talks about the religious significance of the cave, procedure for the holy trek, helicopter service and nearby tourist attractions.
The Amarnath caves are located on the tapering heights and the tour to Amarnath temple in India is a challenging five day long trek. Through long hours of trekking the pilgrims passes by various scenic sceneries including holy sites such as Chandanwari, mountain of Sheshnag, Mahaguanas pass, beauteous pastures of Panchtarni and more. Those physically challenged or the elderly people can also pay a visit to the holy shrine of their deity via a helicopter ride. These are new modes of transport available for the convenience of the tourists. The chopper rides are available for Amarnath Yatra every day except for bad weather conditions. These helicopters are functional between Srinagar and Amarnath and Baltal and Amarnath making the yatra a comfortable sojourn to the sacred shrine.
The months of July and August are characterized by various accounts of Lord Shiva’s life which include his marriage with Goddess Parvati. During this time of the year the ardent devotees of a trinity god begin their journey to various pilgrimage destinations pertaining to him and Amarnath Yatra is the most popular among all. Considered as one of the holiest pilgrimage best organized tours in the world and India specifically. Amarnath Cave, nestled in the serene foothills of Himalayas, is the abode of Lord Shiva. Every year hordes of pilgrims undertake this strenuous trek to pay reverence in the feet of Lord Shiva who dwells there in the form of ice stalagmite. There is a firm belief among the Hindu pilgrims that a visit to this holy shrine can free them from the cycle of life and death.
If you do not know much about Shiva, he is the Hindu God who plays the role of a purifier and a destroyer of evil. Shiva is one of the most worshiped deities of Hindus and hence the Amarnath Yatra is one of the most awaited pilgrimages for his devotees. The temple of Amarnath is believed to be the site where the Lord had uttered the secrets of immorality to his wife Goddess Parvati. Amarnath Yatra in India is therefore one that is considered of consisting supernatural powers and can free the soul of the cycle of life and death. The devotees set on this tour to pay obeisance to their deity and see the Ice Lingam inside the holy cave of Amarnath. Situated on an elevation of 14,500 ft. this is a very challenging trek recommended only to the physically fit pilgrims. The snow-capped mountains of the region produce awe inspiring vistas and the entire panorama echoes of the constant chanting of the name of Lord Shiva, the ambiance is quiet inspiring.
Legend has it that Lord Shiva chose this holy Cave to utter the secrets of immortality to his consort Parvati upon her insistence. He was on a hunt of a secluded place wherein nobody can hear the secret conversation. In this process, he left his sacred bull Nandi at Pahalgam. The religious trek which usually lasts between 45 to 60 days is an absolute test of endurance owing to erratic climate conditions. The lowest temperature can go to -5 degree Celsius and a bright sunny day can suddenly transform into rainy weather.
Significance of Amarnath Yatra
It is believed that the holy shrine has existed for more than 5000 years and thus has a very significant place in Hindu mythology. As the legend goes it was due here that after Goddess Parvati’s constant insistence that Lord Shiva had revealed the secret of creation and immorality to her. In search of an isolated place to reveal the secret, Lord Shiva had chosen the high altitude of the mountain to utter the sacred secret. The devotees who would visit the holy shrine are supposed to leave their worldly possessions behind in order to attain the ultimate enlightenment. This pilgrimage tour in India is thus considered one of the best ways to get connected to the supreme power and to attain spiritual peace.
Procedure for Registration
Pilgrims, who wish to go on this holy journey, need to be registered with the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board which is responsible for better management of the Amarnath Yatra. The registration begins two months prior to the commencement of actual Yatra. Recently the government has started issuing the form online for the convenience of devotees. The form can be downloaded from the official website of the shrine board. After the form is filled up, you need to submit them on the designated counters of Jammu and Kashmir bank and few other banks such as Yes Bank, The Bihar State Co-operative Bank Ltd etc. with specified fees.
Helicopter Service for Amarnath Yatra
Amarnath Yatra by Helicopter was launched by the government of Jammu and Kashmir in 2004. It is the shortest possible way to travel to the holy shrine for those who are either bound by time constraints or reluctant in undertaking the trekking route due to health issues. There are different packages offered for the holy Amarnath Yatra by helicopter which include airport pick up, accommodation, VIP Darshan and sightseeing excursion to Srinagar.
How to Reach
By Air: The nearest airport to the holy Amarnath cave is Srinagar. There are daily flights from Delhi to Srinagar. On the other hand, flights from Bombay, Calcutta, Chandigarh and Leh works either on alternate days or weekends.
By Rail: Various railway stations connect Jammu from Delhi. Jammu Tawi station has direct trains that connect this region to the metropolises of Kolkata and Mumbai.
By Road: Jammu and Srinagar are well connected through road. The interstate transport buses ply regularly between the two and other neighboring cities. You can also take a bus ride from Jammu to Baltal (400 kilometers) from where the holy cave is just 14 kilometers away.
Nearby Places of Interest
Amarnath Yatra is not just a religious Odyssey but a soul soothing experience as it allows you to savor the breathtaking beauty of serene lakes, majestic hills, dense forests and confounding valleys en-route.
Pahalgam: It is the starting point of Amarnath Yatra which took place every year in the months of July and August. Cozily nestled on the bank of Lidder River, this little hamlet is fondly referred to as ‘Jewel of the Lidder Valley’ and features fascinating landscapes and salubrious climate.
Chandanwari: Located at a distance of 16 kilometers from Pahalgam, Chandanwari has mythological significance for many people. It is said that Lord Shiva left his crescent at this place on his way to Amarnath. The town is a visual treat for nature lovers with innumerable treasure troves spread all around.
Sheshnag: It is basically an alpine high altitude greenish blue lake with the backdrop of seven mountain peaks resembling Sheshnag. Just 30 kilometers away from Pahalgam, Sheshnag has been enriched with the pristine jewels of nature.
Sample Amarnath Yatra Itinerary
Amarnath Yatra by Helicopter with Srinagar, Gulmarg & Pahalgam
6 Nights / 7 Days
Journey by helicopter to Amarnathji is an exhilarating experience and it commences with your arrival at Srinagar Airport. After that you are transferred to Sonmarg. On your reaching you are made to check in the hotel and you are free to relax or visit Thajewas Glacier. For one night you are made to stay in Sonmarg.
Day 02: Yatra to Amarnath & return to Srinagar
On the second day you will leave for the Holy Cave by Helicopter from Baltal Helipad. The Helicopter commences its journey at 6 o clock. The darshan takes nearly one hour and special passes are made to give precedence to people commuting by helicopter.
Day 03: Srinagar
On the third day after breakfast go visit the Mughal Gardens, Chashmi-e Shahi Nishat (The Garden of happiness) & Shalimar Bagh (dwelling of Love). In the middle of the afternoon you will be taken on a Shikara ride to the beautiful Dal Lake. After that you are given a choice to either stay in the hotel or houseboat.
Day 04: Srinagar/Gulmarg (56 Kms)
On the fourth day of your trip transfer to Gulmarg after breakfast. On reaching that place you will get to check-in at the hotel. After lunch you will be on your own and can either enjoy a pony ride or also take pleasure in a Gondola ride that is the cable car which takes you to Khilanmarg. Dinner is provided at the hotel with a night stay.
On the fifth day after breakfast you will be transferred by car to Pahalgam. After lunch time be free to do whatever you feel like. Dinner is provided in the hotel and during the night you are at the hotel.
Day 06: Pahalgam
After breakfast the day is free for leisure. You can go for walks and enjoy the beautiful weather besides the river or go for a pony ride to one of the many fine-looking spots around Pahalgam. Dinner is served within the hotel premises.
On the seventh day you are transferred by car to the Srinagar airport
The helicopter journey can be cancelled if the weather is bad or because of some other inevitable circumstances and the authorities cannot be held responsible for any type of financial loss. Then the passengers are offered to take the flight the next day and in case the weather is bad continuously for days then they are allowed to have refund for the airfare only.
How To Make Your Amarnath Yatra Go Smooth
For the Amarnath Yatra to go off smoothly you must plan in advance and also book with the appropriate tour organizer. You could choose the surface route or, better still, have a delightful helicopter Yatra, offering a breathtaking view of the Himalayas and the countryside from the air. Most organizers arrange for a pickup at Srinagar and transport to Baltal from where you clamber aboard the helicopter for this short trip to the helipad, about 5 kilometers from the Shrine. From there you walk or take a pony. Regardless of whether you walk from Baltal or go by copter there are a few things you must know to make the trip go off smoothly.
1. You need a permit to visit the Holy Cave. Check if the Amarnath Yatra organizers manage this. If not apply for one and get it before you do anything else. Get the card and carry it with you on the trek. Plan your trip for summer, before the rains start.
2. Go in for a thorough medical check up since you will be trekking at heights of over 3500 meters and the air is thin. It takes time to get acclimatized to the height otherwise you experience shortness of breath, even for the 5 kilometer stretch. You must practice walking for at least 10 kilometers a day for a month before you undertake this holy pilgrimage.
3. It is cold up there in the mountains so please make sure you carry warm woolens, socks, boots and caps to keep yourself fully protected against biting chilly winds. Your boots must preferably be ankle length and must have good soles with non-skid grips. Also include a raincoat in your pack; a disposable one will do nicely. You can buy these at Chandanwari if you like or in your home town.
4. Food can be a problem so carry high energy, nutrition rich packaged foods to keep you energized during the walk. Carry a stick along with you for support.
5. Up there in the rarefied atmosphere the amount of UV will be high so protect your exposed surfaces with sun screens.
6. Insure yourself and carry identification papers.
7. Rather than travel alone, go with a friend or better, in a group. It is more enjoyable and safe.
8. If you cannot carry luggage, you can hire coolies but make sure to fix prices and schedules and keep in contact.
9. If you are short of time or do not have walking practice, opt for a helicopter ride.
10. Carry cash and documents separately in a pouch you can keep securely in your pocket or clothing, separate from your shoulder pack.
11. Follow guidelines and advice and avoid any shortcuts.
12. Do not use plastic containers and dispose them off on the route.
13. Do not carry drugs or alcohol on the trek.
14. While at the cave of Shri Amarnathji, the culmination point of the Amarnath Yatra, please do not touch the Lingam or shower it with flowers as is customary in other places.
The best way is to go as part of a group and go by helicopter for the Amarnath Yatra for a smooth, enjoyable pilgrimage that will fill you with a sense of peace and of having done your duty. That said, there is a lot more that can be written about Amarnath Yatra….but to make long story short, the journey to Amarnath Cave is not just all about answering the higher calling within you but also about taking delight in the grandeurs of nature sprinkled throughout the way of the Amarnath Yatra.
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