Monday, 29 August 2011

Shri Amarnath Ji Yatra 29th July 2011

We woke up very early at 2 AM to be ready after bath & morning meditation to take the car at 03:30 AM, provided by the hotel, to Yatra base camp at Bhagwati Nagar, Jammu which is about 3-4 Kms from the hotel at Raghunath Bazar. Base camp looked like a fortified area with lots of security check by CRPF. The complex also has a yatri niwas providing cheap accommodation to yatris, besides Bus reservation counter & BSNL temporary SIM card counter.

Yatra Route
: there are two routes to the yatra
  1. JAMMU – PAHALGAM – HOLY CAVE: Distance from Jammu to Pahalgam 315 Kms. This is traditional but longer route (about 46 kms distance from Pahalgam to Holy Cave) consisting of many temples connected with the mythological story of Shri Amarnath ji yatra.
  2. JAMMU – BALTAL – HOLY CAVE: Distance from Jammu to Baltal 430 Kms. this is shorter route (about 14 kms distance from Baltal to Holy Cave) without any temples enroute.
ROUTE MAP (courtesy shrine board website)

Earlier one had to trek the entire distance from the starting points of yatra i.e. Pahalgam or Baltal but now Helicopter services are available by Pawan Hans and Alpine up to Panchtarni. From there one has to trek the remaining 06 kms. We had chosen the shorter route through Baltal & back to Jammu.
After taking ticket for Baltal we boarded bus at about 04:00 AM. Fare by regular JKTDC bus is Rs.365/- per person. Baltal is about 430 kms from Jammu. Bus was full with enthusiastic yatris, most of them being first timers. All vehicles moved under full security cover in a convoy with CRPF vehicles at the start & end.
Journey was very nice but very long also. It was a little warm at the start but after 2-3 hours the weather changed and it became cool. There are lots of Langars by NGOs at regular intervals feeding the yatris with all humility & care. What a gesture. Bus moved through picturesque Patnitop & other places.
 In the afternoon our convoy was stopped and there was a huge jam for about 3 hours. We learnt that some extremists had planted a bomb below some bridge on the route which was diffused by CRPF. Kudos to them. It is due to their extreme 24 hours vigil that the normal public & yatris are safe in the valley.
We came near Jawahar Tunnel which is about 2.5 kms long and after crossing this you enter the beautiful Kashmir Valley. Just after the tunnel the scenery is so beautifully breathtaking. After some more breaks at Langars we reached Srinagar at 08 PM; passing through the very beautiful and mammoth Dal Lake the convoy reached another CRPF camp for the yatris at Manigam, about 30 kms from Srinagar. Place was high security area with Langars & tents and good arrangements for toilets & bathrooms. Again cannot thank enough the govt. for arrangements & NGOs for their hospitality. Good food in variety was available. We took one tent for night stay who charged a meager Rs.100/- for the night. Tired from the full day journey we said our prayers and went to sleep. Ahead was another early morning journey as Baltal was still about 80 kms.

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