We stayed in a tent at Panchtarni. The next morning we started our journey again. After walking for a few hours we saw the helicopters. This place was just near the cave:
There was a queue to enter the Amarnath cave.
This is just near the cave:
That’s the Amarnath cave:
After nine hours in the queue we finally entered the cave at 5 pm. Inside the main Amarnath cave lies an ice stalagmite resembling the Shiva Linga, which waxes during May to August and gradually wanes thereafter. This lingam is said to grow and shrink with the phases of the moon, reaching its height during the summer festival. According to Hindu mythology, this is the cave where Shiva explained the secret of life and eternity to his divine consort Parvati. The cave is situated at an altitude of 3,888 m. (12,760 ft). Photography was not allowed inside the cave. Inside the cave we saw a 12 feet long Shiv ling made of ice. When I saw that my pain and exursion was gone in a flash. There are two other ice formations representing Mata Parvati and Lord Ganesha.
The temple is reported to be about 5,000 years old and was mentioned in ancient Hindu texts. The exact manner of discovery of the cave is not known. In recent times, the legend is that in 1850, the cave was re-discovered by a Muslim shepherd boy named Buta Malik. According to the tale, Buta Malik was given a sack of coal by a Sadhu. Upon reaching his home he discovered that the sack, in fact, contained gold. Overjoyed and overcome, Buta Malik rushed back to look for the Sadhu and thank him, but on the spot of their meeting discovered the cave and eventually this became a place of pilgrimage for all believers. So pleased was the Dogra King Maharaja Gulab Singh by this discovery that he decreed that a representative of the Malik family would always be present at the holy shrine, along with the Mahant (Hindu priest) and Pundits of Ganeshpora, during the period of the pilgrimage each year. Also, the family of the muslim shepherd was granted a large estate near Pahalgam and exempted from paying land revenue to the state. Further one third of all the offerings made at the shrine each year were to be given to the Malik family as reward. The Amarnath Yatra, according to Hindu belief, begins on Ashadha Purnima (day of the Full Moon in the Hindu Month of Ashadha) and ends on Shravana Purnima (day of the full moon in the Hindu month of Shravana).
We saw two white pigeons in the cave. It is believed that those two white pigeons are immortal and stay in that cave. Also, we saw a grey pigeon and a black koel. Inside the cave there was a kund from where the holy water comes out. After the darshan we came out and again it was raining. Then, we had dinner in Bhandara and took tent and slept there. The next day in the morning we started returning from the Baltal route. There was a lot of dust in this route. We had lunch again in a Bhandara. All the food items in the Bhandaras are free of cost. At 5 pm we reached Baltal. There was a strike in Srinagar due to the allotment of land in the Shrine Board issue. Due to firing in Srinagar and all we were stuck in Baltal and spent the night in a tent. The next day, with the protection of military we reached Srinagar at 6 pm.
Then, we went and saw the Dal lake in a Shikara at night. The Dal Lake is a famous lake in Srinagar. It is connected to a number of other lakes of the Kashmir valley. It is well-known for its approximately 500 Victorian-era wooden houseboats, originally built as vacation homes for British administrators during the Raj. The lake covers 18 square kilometers, and is divided by causeways into four basins, called Gagribal, Lokut Dal, Bod Dal and Nagin. Lokut-dal and Bod-dal have an island each in the centre, known as Rup Lank (or Char Chinari) and Sona Lank respectively. Along most of the shore of the lake is a boulevard, lined with Mughal-era gardens, parks, and hotels. During the winter season the lake sometimes freezes over. The lake has some interesting flora and fauna. The flora includes lotus flower, water lilies and water chestnuts. Notable birds are kingfishers and heron.
After that we had the dinner at the same houseboat that we hired at the starting of our journey, for dumping the extra luggage. The next morning we decided to go to Vaishno Devi. Vaishno Devi Mandir is one of the holiest Hindu temples dedicated to Shakti, located in the hill of Vaishno Devi, Jammu and Kashmir, India. In Hinduism, Vaishno Devi, also known as Mata Rani and Vaishnavi, is a manifestation of the Mother Goddess. The temple is near the town of Katra, in Udhampur district. It is one of the most revered places of worship in Northern India. The shrine is at an altitude of 5200 feet and a distance of approximately 12 kilometres from Katra. Million of pilgrims visit the temple every year and is the second most visited religious shrine in India, after Tirumala Venkateswara Temple. The Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board maintains the shrine. A rail link from Udhampur to Katra is being built to facilitate pilgrimage. We took a bus and reached Katra at 10 pm. We hired a hotel and spent the night over there. In the morning again, there are three ways to go to Vaishni Devi Temple, one is to go by walking, second is to go by Palki and the third is to go by a pony. Once again, we decided to go by walking to see the natural beauty. After a few hours of climb we could see the panoramic view of Katra.
After about 12 hours walking we reached at the top. There was a cave at the top. After the darshan we went to the Bhairav Nath temple. It is believed that if you do not cover the Bhairav Nath Temple the Vaishno Devi journey is not yet finished. We came down at night time itself. It was raining and the weather was very bad. After walking throughout the night we reached Katra at 11 am. From Kataras we hired a sumo for Rs. 500 to Jammu. From Jammu we took a train to Nagpur and then took another train from Nagpur to reach Durg.
This post was contributed by: Pawan