The Yatra via Baltal is the Shortest Route to Holy Amarnath Cave and many pilgrims prefer to proceed via Baltal Base Camp. The Distance of Amarnath Cave from Baltal is just 14 km and pilgrims usually take 2 days to visit the shrine and return back. Compared to this, the Pahalgam Route takes 5 days.
Baltal is 113 km from Srinagar, the summer capital city of Jammu & Kashmir state of India. The Journey from Srinagar to Baltal passes via romantic hill station of Sonamarg. Baltal just 15 km north of Sonamarg on the Sind River at the base of Zojila pass. Baltal is one hour away from Sonmarg on a taxi or a bus. It can also be reached from Pahalgam, 24 km away, in about 45 minutes. For hikers, it takes around 5 hours to reach Baltal from Pahalgam.
Baltal – Domail – Barari -Sangam- Holy Cave
Baltal: At an Altitude of 2743 m, Baltal is the most preferred base camp for pilgrims who want to reach Amarnath Cave in lesser time. It provides with pitched tents to pilgrims for overnight accommodation.
Domail and Barari: These are intermediate stops for pilgrims with refreshment and other basic facilities. They have unknown religious importance.
Sangam: It is located a near Panchtarni (place) and is the confluence of Panchtarni and Amaravati River. This is where the routes of Yatris from Pahalgam and Baltal Base Camp intersect and join together. The Holy Amarnath Cave is 3km from Sangam. Pilgrims usually proceed by taking a holy dip in the confluence of rivers.
Amarnath Cave: Located 3km from the Sangam is the Holy Amarnath Cave. Pilgrims return back to Sangam within hours after having the Darshan and offering prayers to Shri Amarnath ji. They can proceed to Baltal immediately.
Caution: While it is a shorter route to Amarnath Cave, this route is steeper and narrower due to which pilgrims have to walk cautiously while crossing ice bridges across mountain streams. It is recommended only for those who are physically fit. Ponies and Porters are also available from Baltal.
Some enthusiastic Pilgrims start from Baltal Base Camp, visit the cave and return back within 24 hours.