The 42-day-long annual pilgrimage to the holy cave shrine of Amarnath in South Kashmir Himalayas will commence on June 23 this year.
The shrine board decided to schedule the 2020 pilgrimage from June 23 till August 3.
This year’s pilgrimage will be longer by two days against last year’s 40 days. The pilgrimage had a duration of 60 days in 2018.
The Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) chose 23 June for the commencement of Amarnath yatra as it is the auspicious day of Jagannath Rath Yatra as per the Hindu calendar, and conclude on Shravan Purnima (Raksha Bandhan) on 3 August 2020.
The registration for the Amarnath yatra will begin from 1st April 2020.
About the Amarnath Yatra
The Amarnath yatra attracts lakhs of pilgrims every year . The five-day trek originates at Pahalgam till the Amarnath cave shrine at an altitude of 12,756 feet.
The cave is placed at an altitude of 3,888m, about 141 km from Srinagar, the capital of Jammu and Kashmir. The shrine has an important part to play in Hinduism and is considered to be one of the holiest shrines.
The annual ‘Amarnath Yatra’ is marked by ‘Pratham Pujan’ which is said to invoke the blessings of Baba Amarnath.
Moreover, since the ice is collected from the water dripping from the top of the cave due to the melting of the ice on top of it, the ‘lingum’ reaches a maximum around July-August when the ice caps around the cave are melting. Water seeps into the rocks that form the cave and progressively fades thereafter.
As per the religious beliefs, it has been claimed that the lingam grows and shrinks with the phases of the moon reaching its height during the summer festival.
Mythology behind Amarnath yatra
The legend says that Lord Shiva had to give in to Goddess Parvati’s demands of knowing the secrets of life and death but he couldn’t risk anyone eavesdropping. So, they set on their way to a cave in the mountains – too difficult to be reached by any lesser person than the gods themselves.
The secret was so sacred that all the companions also had to be left behind. So his ride – Nandi, the bull – was left at Pahalgam, the moon atop his head at Chandanwari, the snake around his neck at Lake Sheshnag, the 5 basic elements of life that he carried at Panchtarini and even his son – Lord Ganesha himself – at Mahaguna top. And, now Hindu devotees find themselves en route this perilous mountainous trek every year.
Journey to The Amarnath Cave
Other than walking to the cave there are also the options of hiring a “Palki” or “helicopter ride.” If opting for the helicopter ride, the pilgrim will be dropped at Panjtarni, which is a 6km (2 hours) walk to the Amarnath cave but with many pilgrims present, the walk will take up to 4 hours on easy terrain.
Pony rides are available too but they will drop you off 2 kms before reaching the cave as the terrain gets a slight slope.
For safety purposes, children below 13 years, elderly aged 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 required to furnish a Compulsory Health Certificate (CHC) for each individual, duly issued by authorised doctors/institutions, as per instructions laid down by Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB). The list of authorized doctors/institutions is made 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 rendered invalid.