Amarnath Yatra in India is regarded as one of the holiest points of Jammu & Kashmir pilgrim tourism which is dedicated to Lord Shiva, one of the Trinity gods. People from far flung areas come to visit the cave of Amarnath every year in the month of July to August. The Shiva Lingam of Amarnath which forms naturally through the droplets of ice over a period of time is a symbol of immense reverence for the devotees. It is believed that an ice Shivalinga forms in the cave of Amarnath in every lunar month. The Shivalinga starts taking shape on the first day of the bright half of the month and forms fully on the full moon day and then begins to dissolve on the no moon day. There are four to five ice figures resembling various deities inside the Amarnath cave. As per the custom, the largest one is believed to be of Amarnath (Lord Shiva), one on its left of Lord Ganesha and ones on the right of Parvati and Bhairava respectively.
Beliefs about Amarnath – There are many legends associated with the cave of Amarnathji. One of the legends is that Lord Shiva was describing the secret of creation to Goddess Parvati in a cave in Amarnath. Without their knowledge, a pair of mating doves overheard their conversation. Having learned the secret of creation, the doves now take rebirth again and again and the same cave serves as their abode since then. Another popular legend is that, to make all the gods immortal, Lord Shiva distributed celestial nectar of immortality amongst them. This led to awarding of the name Amarnath to Lord Shiva, meaning “Lord of Immortality'”.
The journey or yatra to Amarnath begins in the month of July when the routes are comparatively clear. There are two locations via which Amarnathji yatra can be completed. The first one starts from Pahalgam which is around 46 km away from Amarnath. Pilgrims can avail of transport facilities till Chandanwari and after that the rest 30 km has to be covered on foot by the travelers. While passing through Chandanwari people have the option of staying back for one night and the following day they can start again. Seshnag and Panchtarni are the two next destinations. From Panchtarni Amarnathji cave is only six km away.
Arranging accommodation facilities on every route to Amarnath Yatra, the government of Jammu & Kashmir also provides strict vigilance and security to the pilgrims. Registration procedures initiate quite early to avoid unnecessary rush. Also there is a specific pilgrim number beyond which people are not allowed to take part in the Amarnath Yatra.