‘Ekam sat’ means ‘there is one Being’. It is the popular verse of Rigveda. As per this verse, God has three deities to carry on the tasks of the entire world. This is called Holy Trinity: Brahma is the creator, Vishnu is the perpetuator of life and Shiva is the destroyer of evil, purifier and harbringer of good. In Rig Veda, Lord Shiva has also been mentioned as Rudra. According to Yajurveda, Lord Shiva has been described as an ascetic warrior who wears deer skin’s robe and carries a trishul in his hand. Lord Shiva is considered as a living God. He has three places of His residence – first and the foremost is Kailash Parvat, second one is Lohit Giri under which flows the Brahamputra and third one is Muzwan Parvat. Lord Shiva has been mentioned in the hymns of Rig Veda. Even in ancient India, Lord Shiva was worshiped and it is evident from the Mohinjodaro and Harappa findings.
Why is Amarnath Famous :
One of the prominent religious destinations dedicated to Lord Shiva is the holyAmarnath Cave that is located in Jammu and Kashmir. Each year, lakhs of Hindu devotees visit the cave to pay obeisance to the ice Shiv lingam, a form of Lord Shiva that is formed inside the cave.
Who discovered the cave and how?
A Muslim shepherd Buta Malik discovered the cave and the ice lingam. According to lore, in 1850, a saint gave Buta Malik a bag full of coal while he was with his herd up in the mountains. When he reached home, Malik found a bag full of gold instead of the coal. An overjoyed Malik ran to thank the saint but couldn’t find him. Rather, he found the cave and the ice lingam.The pilgrimage to the cave baegan after Malik shared his discovery with the villagers.
Duration of Yatra:
Originally the yatra used to be for 15 days or a month before the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board took over Purohit Sabha Mattan in 2000, said the Purohit Sabha president. In 2005, the board decided to extend the pilgrimage to over two months. The annual yatra ends when Mahant Deependira Giri, custodian of the Holy Mace, carries it to the cave.
Amarnath Yatra Route
There are two routes that pilgrim could undertake to reach Amarnath Cave. Pahagam route is the more traditional one but the Baltal route is the shortest for the Yatra from where, devotees could have darshan and come back to Srinagar on the same day.
For the elderly and those with lesser time up their sleeve, Amarnath Yatra by Helicopter is also available these days from both Baltal and Pahalgam. Helicopters fly till Panjtarni from where pilgrims could choose to walk, take a pony ride or hire a palki to reach the holy cave which is 6 kilometers further up from Panjtarni.
How to register for the Yatra
For registration, you first need to pick a date. The date that you will pick will be the day you will be allowed to cross the access control gate (ACG). After that get hold of the registration form which are available here.
You are also required to get a compulsory health certificate. The format of the same is available here. You also need to get your compulsory health certificate signed by the Chief Medical Officer of your district. However to ease this process, Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) is working with government authorities to authorize doctors and medical institutions throughout the country.
Insurance: A valid yatra permit entitles you to an insurance cover of 1 lakh in case of death due to an accident while undertaking the yatra.
Shelters: Toilets, shelters and rest stops are available every few kilometres on all the routes to the cave.
Medical: All base camps come with medical centres that are equipped to deal with most altitude-related sicknesses. There are also mountain rescue teams who carry portable oxygen tanks in case of emergencies.