The Amarnath Yatra is one of the most sacred Religious Trips for Hindus. Traditionally the Holy Amarnath Cave is reached by Pahalgam Base Camp. The Amarnath Shrine is just 45 km from Pahalgam and it usually takes 4-5 days to visit the Shrine and return back to Pahalgam.
A Shorter and a bit dangerous route to the Amarnath Cave is Baltal Route.
Pahalgam is 96km from Srinagar and 315km from Jammu. The Nearest Airport is Srinagar while the nearest Railway Station in Jammu. Taxis and Buses are available both from Jammu and Srinagar.
Pahalgam – Chandanwari – Pissu Top – Sheshnag – Panchtarni – Holy Cave
Pahalgam: The Town of Pahalgam is part of Anantnag District of Jammu & Kashmir. It is located on the banks of Lidder River at an altitude of 7200 ft. from sea level. It is a popular tourist destination, and every year, many tourists visit Pahalgam. Besides tourist huts, several hotels in private sector have come up here and these hotels provide modern facilities to their guests.
Chandanwari: The Base Camp for Amarnath Yatra is located 16 km from the town of Pahalgam at a place called Chandanwari (2,895m MSL). The road from Pahalgam to Chandanwari is on fairly flat terrain and can be undertaken by a Car or Bus. The route runs along the Lidder River with a fabulous scenic view. There are many Langars (Community Food Courts) that offer food to the Yatris (Pilgrims).
Pissu Top: From Chandanwari onwards the track becomes much steeper, and is accessible only by foot or by pony. After 3 km comes the high peak known as Pissu Top, which is also of Religious Significance. It is said to be the site of a legendary battle between the Devas (Gods) and Rakshasas (Demons).
Sheshnag: About 11 km from Pissu Top is the mountain lake of Sheshnag (3,574 m above MSL) It is usually the second overnight halt for Pilgrims. Sheshnag has seven peaks nearby and as per beliefs the seven peaks resemble the seven heads of Snake God, who accompany Lord Shiva. Also in nearby is Sheshnag Lake where pilgrims take holy bath.
Panchtarni: Panchtarni is located about 13km from Sheshnag. This place is famous for confluence of rivers and is usually the last halt en-route the holy Amarnath Cave. Pilgrims have to cross Mahagunas Pass in order to reach Panchtarni. The Mahagunas Pass is at 14000 ft or 4276 m above MSL. From there a descent leads to Panchtarni valley.
Amarnath Cave: After 6km from Panchtarni one reaches Amarnath Cave. Usually Pilgrims leave from Panchtarni in the morning, take a dip at the Sangam(confluence of Rivers) and reach the Holy Cave. The Last 1km to the cave has to be accessed by Foot and Ponies are not allowed.
Return Trip: After the Darshan (view of Shivlinga accompanied by Prayers), Pilgrims can return back to Panchtarni on the same day. Some stay overnight at Panchtarni while few enthusiastic Pilgrims reach Sheshnag on the same day.