The campsite at Sheshnag, teh first night halt of the Amarnath yatra with several tents spread out as seen at the break of dawn with fresh snow from the previous night in the backdrop.

Amarnath yatra: Trek on a pilgrimage

(Jump to the Amarnath yatra story) [ इसे हिंदी में पढ़ें ]

Amarnath yatra 2020 updates

Amarnath yatra 2020 has been cancelled in the wake of the current pandemic situation.
is expected to start from 23rd July and go on till 3rd August 2020. The final decision regarding the yatra for this year will be taken in the coming days.

The details regarding the registration process, the date and the route selection will be available on the Shri Amarnath Yatra shrine board website.

Legend of the Amarnath yatra

Imagine a superhero with infinite powers. The only one who knows the path to immortality. He, however, has to give in to his wife’s wish to know this secret.

To keep the secret safe from any eavesdroppers, the superhero chooses a place safely distant from any life.

En route, he lets go of all his companions. His ride, the bull at Pahalgam. The moon that adorns his hair at Chandanwari. The snakes around his neck at Sheshnag. The five basic elements at Panchatarini. His son Ganesh at Mahagunas Top. To finally reach a hidden cave.

This fascinating story is the legend of Amarnath yatra.

The cave where the superhero (Shiva) supposedly narrated the immortality lessons to his wife (Parvati) – the “holy cave” of Amarnath – has become a revered destination for hundreds of thousands of pilgrims. The route that Shiva and Parvati took in this legend is the original Amarnath yatra route.

How did we prepare for the Amarnath yatra?

We were looking for a trek in Kashmir. The Amarnath yatra was about to start. Everyone suggested we make use of this opportunity. We are not too religiously inclined. But the prospect of a journey with hundreds of pilgrims and seeing the ice shivling; the world’s most renowned ice stalagmite excited us.

Physical fitness

By then, we had spent a few weeks in the mountains in Kashmir. We did a few day treks in offbeat places in Kashmir like Chatpal and Yusmarg to increase our stamina and make ourselves fit for the 3-day Amarnath yatra trek. These day treks in Kashmir were enough to prepare ourselves for the Amarnath yatra.

Paper work for the Amarnath yatra

In Pahalgam, we decided to definitely go for the Amarnath yatra. Pahalgam is one of the starting points of the Amarnath yatra. Since we had not pre-planned this yatra, we had not registered for it and did not have the yatra permits. We made use of the on-the-spot registration for the Amarnath yatra.

We got our medical fitness certificates from the government hospital in Anantnag. We then went to the TRC (Tourist Reception Centre) office in Srinagar for the actual registration. Here we were allocated a date for commencing our Amarnath yatra.

Choosing our Amarnath yatra route

We chose the longer route for our Amarnath yatra, from Pahalgam. This is the historic Amarnath yatra route, retracing the steps of Shiva and Parvati. It is a 45 km trek from Pahalgam to the Amarnath cave. We reached the holy cave (this is how the Amarnath cave is commonly referred to) on the third day.

These days, the first 15 km, from Pahalgam to Chandanwari is just a two-hour drive. The actual trek begins only at Chandanwari.

There is another option, which takes only one day to reach the holy cave. This shorter Amarnath yatra route starts from Baltal. We will tell you in a while why we believe, the longer Amarnath yatra route is a better option.

Itinerary for the Amarnath yatra via Pahalgam

By foot

Day 0:

  • This is the day before you starting date for the Amarnath yatra (as specified in your yatra permit).
  • Arrival at the Nunwan basecamp/any hotel in Pahalgam.

Day 1:

  • Start early in the morning from Pahalgam. Between 6 AM to 7 AM would be the ideal time to leave.
  • Get into a shared jeep or bus for Chandanwari.
  • Start the climb from Chandanwari to Sheshnag.
  • The day ends at the Sheshnag campsite.

Day 2:

  • Start early in the morning from Sheshnag, post breakfast.
  • You cross the highest point of the Amarnath yatra at the Mahagunas top before lunch.
  • The day ends at the campsite at Panchatarini.

Day 3:

  • Start early in the morning from Panchatarini, post breakfast.
  • Aim to reach the holy cave as early as you can to avoid the long queues.
  • You get to spend a few minutes inside the holy cave.
  • Once you are done with the darshan inside the holy cave of Amarnath, have your lunch and start the return journey to Baltal.
  • Spend the night at the Baltal campsite or take a jeep to Sonamarg/Srinagar/Pahalgam, depending on the time you have.

On a horseback

  • The itinerary if you are doing the Amarnath yatra from Pahalgam

Start of the Amarnath yatra

We had been in Pahalgam for almost a week by then. But the morning we were to start our Amarnath yatra was the first time the clouds cleared. From our hotel room in Pahalgam, we got a clear view of Pissutop. This was the first mountain peak we would climb. It is a fabled “toughest stretch” of the entire Amarnath yatra route. We took this as a good omen and set out.

The water of the Lidder river was bright and clear. The sun was out. The air was crisp. Weather, perfect.

The main road of Pahalgam was choc-a-bloc with people. Excited faces. Some apprehensive. Everyone looking forward to beginning their Amarnath yatra. For many pilgrims, this journey is a dream come true -a once in a lifetime event. Some get so hooked on to it, they keep coming back every year. It was a great chaotic atmosphere.

Dramatic scenes greeted us at Chandanwari. Refreshing welcome drinks were being served to the pilgrims. Fistfuls of dry fruits and chocolates were thrust into our hands. Food-wise, this was going to be a luxury trek!

Horses horses everywhere, not an inch to spare

A sea of horses surrounded us. They were waiting patiently as their owners went fishing for passengers.

We figured we would see more people on horses than on their feet during the Amarnath yatra. (For days after the yatra, the sounds of “bolo, ghoda?” – Do you want a horse  – kept ringing in our ears.)

The 4 means of transport for accomplishing the Amarnath yatra: the helicopter, horse, palanquin or your own two feet!

Sadhus on the Amarnath yatra

The Amarnath yatra was our introduction to the ways and lives of the sadhus. These days, only the sadhus walk the entire route, from Pahalgam to the Amarnath cave. Every once in a while, we would see the sadhus take a break. A break always involved a round of their favourite smoke. (No, we didn’t dare ask what exactly was in it!)

This is what a sadhu-break looked like
While we wore layers of woollens and trekking shoes, the sadhus were dressed in a shawl and a dhoti.
A sadhu, dressed in minimum clothing and battered shoes falls asleep as he sits to rest on a rock, his heavy walking stick still in his hand on a steep stretch of Pissutop, the first mountain peak of Amarnath yatra.

Carrying all their worldly belongings on their shoulders, they trudged on.

A sadhu with all his baggage wrapped in orange cloth and the holy walking stick on the Amarnath yatra

At campsites, we stayed in simple albeit warm tents, with mattresses and blankets. This basic accommodation was too much of a luxury for them. They slept in the open air “sadhu shelters”.

The real sadhus were an epitome of simple living. Seeing them, was a study in cutting things down to the basics.

A sadhu sleeps on the ground with all his belongings close by after crossing the Mahaganus top, the highest point of the Amarnath yatra.
A sadhu takes a break with his smoking pipe on the way to the holy cave at Amarnath in Kashmir, India.

Any form of nicotine and alcohol is banned on the Amarnath yatra. Of course, these rules do not apply to the sadhus!

Sadhus thus become the exclusive source of cigarettes on the Amarnath yatra. Every night, post-dinner, they would be mobbed. Especially by young guys.

Addiction, after all, has a place in a person’s life, it appears!

Meet Chunnilal, the barefoot braveheart of Amarnath yatra

A young sadhu, Chunnilal, dressed in simple clothes and just a shawl to protect him from the cold with a shoulder bag and a walking stick walked the entire Amarnath yatra route barefoot.

Chunnilal was a young sadhu. We had a long interaction with him through the three days of the Amarnath yatra.

These conversations were our first real contact with a sadhu. They gave us an insight into the life the sadhus lead.

The feet of a young sadhu, Chunnilal, scarred and covered in mud as he halts at Mahaganus top, the highest point of the Amarnath yatra route on his brave feat of doing the yatra barefoot.

This was Chunnilal’s second Amarnath yatra. Like the last time, he was trekking it barefoot. The first time was quite tough, he said. That year, there had been more snow along the Amarnath yatra route. But this second time, he was at ease, walking comfortably.

His ultimate dream was to spend his life in Vrindavan, where, he felt God has His true presence!

Landscape along the Amarnath yatra route

To say the landscape on the Amarnath yatra is breathtaking is an understatement.

Green and fresh is how the trek begins. The initial path is through a lovely pine forest and waterfalls.

The river Lidder gave us company all through the first day. The reducing size of Lidder was an indication of how high up we were.

A helicopter flies through the lush green pine forest ferrying passengers from the Amarnath yatra

The interesting aspect of this Amarnath yatra route, via Pahalgam, is the variety it offers. While there are steep ascents like Pissutop (day 1) and Mahagunas Pass (day 2), there are periods of a leisurely stroll as well. Some parts we walked next to a valley, some were through flat meadows. We crossed some glaciers, played in the snow and also waded through the freezing waters of the river at one point.

Life and sights around Dal lake in Srinagar, Kashmir

The biggest challenge we faced was from the horses. They were in large numbers. At times, we had to wait for them to pass and for the trail clear out for us to walk. Savouring such magnificent landscapes with the smell of horses and horse poo was a dampener.

The emerald water of Sheshnag lake, the first night halt on the way to the holy cave along the Amarnath yatra route via Pahalgam.

The first night-halt was at Sheshnag. The emerald waters of the Sheshnag lake were a welcome sight, indicating a campsite close by.

At the campsites, tents, as well as facilities like warm water and electricity, are arranged by the locals of Kashmir. Rates for the tents are pre-decided each year and increase as you proceed higher up.

Food is provided by the devotee volunteers. Such organisations come from all over India. They run food stalls (bhandaras) throughout the period of the Amarnath yatra, serving food from breakfast to dinner – for free.

Families from the Himalayas who stunned us with their hospitality
Kids of the hills

The owner of our tent at Sheshnag warned us of sub-zero temperatures in the night. For sure, it snowed heavily that night. We weren’t sure the yatra would commence the next morning.

The campsite at Sheshnag, the first night halt on the Amarnath yatra route via Pahalgam with several tents spread out as seen at the break of dawn with fresh snow from the previous night in the backdrop.

We woke up to the sight of fresh snow on the Sheshnag mountains. It was an enchanting setting for brushing our teeth!

The weather in the morning was conducive to proceed. We were to cross the peak of the Amarnath yatra, the Mahagunas Pass at 14500 feet. The greens of the previous day gradually gave way to brown and barren mountains.

Pilgrims head towards Mahaganus top, the highest point of the Amarnath yatra route via Pahalgam as the greenery around reduces and the mountains start turning brown and grey.

The colours of our surroundings were playing with our state of mind. The lively spring in our feet had turned into an intense climb. Realising we were in a place where nature didn’t intend for life to exist was a surreal feeling.

Two horsemen and their horses walk through the waters of the melting glaciers in the backdrop of black and white mountains towards the Mahaganus top, the highest point of the Amarnath yatra route via Pahalgam at nearly 4200 meters.

Mahagunas Top was lifeless, except for the pilgrims and the Indian army. Here, the army served us a welcome drink – warm water. The Indian army along with the Jammu and Kashmir state police does a remarkable job of handling this mega logistical exercise. Controlling the huge untrained crowds of pilgrims in remote high mountains, especially in times of bad weather is a dangerous job.

A lavish variety of food is provided by a bhandara from Delhi at Poshpathri, just after the highest point of the Amarnath yatra.

As a reward for making it through the peak of the Amarnath yatra, a small descent later we came to a five-star bhandara.

The variety served here could have put a wedding party to shame! To be served it all at nearly 14000 feet, was kind of bizarre!

The next campsite was at Panchatarini. This is also the disembarkation point for the devotees who prefer the helicopters. The helicopters operate over both the Amarnath yatra routes – from Pahalgam as well as Baltal.

Beautiful landscape of a small stream surrounded by almost barren mountains with a bit of snow with the tents of the campsite at Panchatarini seen in the far background on the morning of the final and third day of the Amarnath yatra.

After Panchatarini a short ascent on day 3, took us to the site of the “holy cave” of Amarnath.

Scenes around the Amarnath cave

A buzzing market around the area of the Amarnath cave belies its height of almost 13800 feet.

The locals have set up shops where you can buy the prasad and deposit your luggage (bags or gadgets are not allowed inside the Amarnath cave). They also provide hot water if one wants to bathe before darshan. Or a bed for a short nap.

Man selling fake saffron and black blocks of shilajeet outside the holy Amarnath cave.

Or maybe buy the “purest saffron”? We also saw shilajeet for the first time – a substance loaded with medicinal values found especially in the Himalayan mountains. Needless to say, their claims of purity should be taken with generous doses of salt!

A bearded man posing as a sadhu, dressed in a warm orange jacket and a red blanket, wearing several rings in his fingers sits in a small cave around the holy Amarnath cave trying to sell photos of the shivling, rudrakshas as well as some currency.

On the other side is a row of “sadhus” who have set shop. A long queue then leads to the cave. Since photography isn’t permitted inside the cave, this was the closest we could capture the holy Amarnath cave from.

A sea of horses, shops and people in the midst of the snow and the mountains is the landscape around the opening of the holy Amarnath cave.

It was a stampede-like situation inside the cave. We saw the legendary ice shivling for a few seconds and headed out of the cave.

A series of horses and their horsemen take pilgrims through the slush and stone filled Amarnath yatra route from Baltal to the holy Amarnath cave.

We returned through the shorter Amarnath yatra route via Baltal.

This is a straight path, with a steady ascent on the way to the cave. The base camp of Baltal is 14 km from the Amarnath cave. Thankfully we only had to descend this distance.

We were constantly walking next to a deep valley. The stunning vistas on the way up had spoilt us. Though beautiful, we found this landscape while descending to Baltal, rather monotonous.

Though this journey takes just a day, the continuous climb makes it extremely strenuous. For its variety and beauty, we highly recommend the Amarnath yatra route via Pahalgam.

Still confused on choice of route? WhatsApp Us! We will guide you.

The people of Amarnath yatra

As we had hoped, the Amarnath yatra was an excellent experience to meet all kinds of people. And as always, the people we met are our lasting impression of the Amarnath yatra.

There were healthy people who chose comfort as a way to holy darshan.

A man sits comfortably on a palkhi, a chair attached to rods held on their shoulders by four strong people and they carry this man along the entire Amarnath yatra route to the holy Amarnath cave.

And some crazy ones whose reasons we will probably never know (and maybe never understand).

A pilgrim does his Amarnath yatra on his four limbs

This man would move ahead on his four limbs, stand, fold his hands and chant a prayer. Then get down on all four limbs ahead.

We met him on Pissutop and have no idea if and  when he did finally complete his Amarnath yatra.

And then, there were some whose memories will forever inspire us. Who made it through only on the strength of their faith.

They were the heroes of the Amarnath yatra, ageless devotees on a true pilgrimage.

Old man wearing a simple kurta, carrying his bag across his chest and a wooden walking stick braves the rough terrain and the cold weather at Sheshnag on his Amarnath yatra.

Indian Army is a big help at the Amarnath yatra

An Indian Army officer helps an old woman get through the final steep stretch to Pishutop, the first peak of the Amarnath yatra.

Map of the Amarnath yatra route via Pahalgam

  • Srinagar to Pahalgam is a two hour drive. You can hire a cab from Srinagar to take you directly to Pahalgam. If you want to save money, public transport is also a good option as Srinagar to Pahalgam is a pretty popular route. Take a shared Sumo from Srinagar to Anantnag, and another shared Sumo from Anantnag to Pahalgam.
  • In Pahalgam, you can stay at the base camp in Nunwan. If not, Pahalgam is flooded with hotels. Rates will be escalated during the days of the Amarnath yatra.
  • On the day you start your Amarnath yatra, start as early as you can from Pahalgam, preferably around 6 AM. Hire a shared Sumo or a bus to take you to Chandanwari.
  • From Chandanwari, the actual climb of the Amarnath yatra commences. Pissutop and Nagakoti are the climbs on day 1. The first night halt of this route of Amarnath yatra, via Pahalgam, if you are on foot, is Sheshnag.
  • On day 2, you will cross the Mahagunas Pass and Poshpathri. The night halt for day 2 is the campsite at Panchtarini. If you hire a horse, this is where you halt on day 1.
  • On the morning of day 3, you will reach the Amarnath cave. Be prepared for a long queue.
  • After your darshan of the ice shivling in the Amarnath temple, you can descend via the shorter route to Baltal. Halt for the night in the basecamp at Baltal.
  • Facility of Western Toilets and Indian Toilets are both available enroute Holy Cave.

Map of the Amarnath yatra route via Baltal

  • The route from Srinagar to Baltal goes via Sonmarg. The cheapest way of traveling from Srinagar to Baltal is to hire a shared Sumo from Srinagar to Sonmarg (you might have to break the journey at Kangan, on the way to Sonmarg).
  • Halt for the night at the basecamp in Baltal.
  • Start the climb early the next day. Be prepared for a long day. It is a steady climb of 14 km. After darshan of the ice shivling in the Amarnath temple, descend via the same route. Rest for the night again at the Baltal base camp.

Top tips for doing the Amarnath yatra

  • The best and the safest mode of transport to do the Amarnath yatra is on foot. The pictures above will show it is not impossible.
  • Alternately, there are tours available that take care of all the arrangements for the Amarnath yatra.
  • Irrespective of your travel plans, prepare adequately before the yatra. Regular exercise in the months prior tot he Amarnath yatra will help. Practice climbing by trekking up a nearby mountain. If there isn’t one nearby, climb up the steps in the house or building.
  • Respect the mountain. It is our privilege to be in the heart of the Himalayas on the Amarnath yatra.
  • Most importantly, do not use the excuse of faith to flout the rules. Follow the dates and the times allotted. The rules are for our own safety. Many people do a tough job of ensuring our safety in these high mountains. Let us return this favour by being responsible ourselves.
  • You can do what we did, it is in fact a common Amarnath yatra itinerary among the Amarnath pilgrims. Ascend via Pahalgam, the longer Amarnath yatra route and descend via Baltal. You can leave your excess luggage in the lockers in Pahalgam. The route from Baltal to Pahalgam will be Baltal-Sonmarg-(Kangan)-Srinagar-(Anantnag)-Pahalgam. You can stay in the Pahalgam basecamp at Nunwan.
  • One way helicopter fare for Yatra is ₹1600 for the Neelgrath-Panjtarni-Neelgrath and ₹2751 (inclusive of all taxes) for Pahalgam-Panchatarini-Pahalgam.

Need help planning your Amarnath yatra?

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These blog posts will help you plan your Kashmir tour

Guide for offbeat travel to Kashmir, India
Yusmarg: Should you stay here on your Kashmir trip?
South Kashmir circuit: Non touristy fit for all travelers
Tourist places to visit in Srinagar, Kashmir
Lolab valley, unexplored offbeat part of Kashmir, India
Chatpal, an offbeat travel destination in Kashmir, India
Kokernag in Kashmir, the biggest botanical garden and trout fishery

Or if you are traveling ahead of Kashmir to Ladakh

Roadtrip by state transport bus on the highway from Leh to Manali, India
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Why visit Drass on the way to Ladakh, India
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And Zanskar too…

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245 thoughts on “Amarnath yatra: Trek on a pilgrimage”

  1. yes you can combine the two but only in the month of july as amarnath yatra usually starts in the month of july every year . and vaishno devi is open for tourists through the year . amarnath yatra is only for 45 days . so plan accordingly , you can contact ahlan india tours and travels for more information about the amaranath yatra for year 2021 . you can add also sightseeing of Gulmarg and srinagar if you have time

  2. Thank you very much guys. Appreciate your effort.
    1.If someone can’t walk barefoot inside the cave due to cold and long waiting queue what to do.
    Can they wear socks and move.
    2. What is the approximate time to trek upto cave from Balthal. Also pls mention time taken to descend back to Balthal for an average trekker.
    3. Is it possible to trek from Balthal to Cave and back to Balthal same day?
    4. we trek to HolyCave from Balthal assuming the return same day. If we feel very tired and can’t come back then will there be any tents near cave for stay.
    5. What kind of shoes to be used while trekking.
    Waiting for your reply
    Thank you ?

    1. Hello Lakshmi, you can wear socks. In fact you must wear socks, and cover them with plastic bags to prevent your feet getting cold. We have explained how exactly to do this in this comment. WE had taken 3-4 hours to descend from the cave to Baltal. But climbing up will take a considerably longer time since it’s a steady ascent. You should start early in the morning, and you would be returning only late in the evening. The holy cave doesn’t have a designated camping area. There are a couple of tents set up, but the facilities that you find at the actual camping places are not available. You could consider using a helicopter one way, if you are planning to go from Baltal, and not feeling confident enough to return the same day. However, if you have the time, we will certainly recommend climbing u from the Pahalgam side. We use Action trekking shoes and they were great on the Amarnath yatra route as well.
      If you are planning to visit other places in Kashmir after your Amarnath yatra, we can help you plan a relaxed, offbeat and beautiful itinerary.

  3. Hello Sandeepa and Chetan, I never ever thought I would ever Want to do the Amarnath Yatra although I have always envied those who have done it! After reading your super blog I have got excited about it and if I ever do decide to go, I hope it will be with your tour. Provided, of course my healthy70 years permit me.

  4. Hi Sandeepa and Chetan !!

    I visited Amaranth just a week back and this beautifully written article had given me lot of details that I was looking for. Thank you for putting most of the relevant information about the trek.

    The trek is BEAUTIFUL and SCENIC and it is the India that not many of us would have seen in reality.

    Logistics around commuting have changed a bit though and it was tough to get a private hire to reach from Jammu to Pahalgam with lack of necessary information available for tourists ( the arrangement could have been better especially at the main railway stations or online channels) for people who want to do a comfortable journey.

  5. Hi am koushikan from Chennai . I want to make amarnath trip on my own in forthcoming July 19 of first week. And I downloaded the permit form at here, I can fill it out and get along with medical certificate from cheChen Rajiv Gandhi hospital . Afterwards they said said to submit the form in a registered center at Chennai . Is that sufficient?

    1. Yes, you must submit the filled out form along with the medical certificate. You will then get the permit for the Amarnath yatra. This permit will mention your date of yatra as well as the route.

    1. Pranesh Seetaram

      Hi Narender, we are also travelling from Bengaluru but on 1st week of August. please share your experience once you come back.

  6. Beautiful article!!! Is public transport available from srinagar airport to baltal ? how may hours the journey will take ? any security issues if i travel alone

  7. Such a detailed description, hard to find anywhere!! I loved reading it. Very well written and informative. Best is that yo guys are answering to each one’s query. I will save this link for sure and take reference whenever I plan to go there.
    Keep up this good work!!

  8. This is what called post. Thanks for providing all the necessary information. I will save it for future reference if ever plan to visit breath taking himalayas and holy cave.

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    1. Gunjan Kumar Satya

      Yes there is tent to stay over there but you have to book on the sport only #homytravel


    Liked it…!!! Nice pics and interesting info made my resolve firmer to visit Amarnath this year…!!
    THANKS …

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  15. R Raghavendran from Bangalore

    A very informative and well written piece. An ideal travel blog and super photos. It almost seems like you are able to read the readers mind and answer their questions. Just one important question for me – what about toilets? Do the trek organizers arrange toilet tents or are their pucca toilets built by the government. And lastly are they reasonably clean? We are planning to go in the beginning of July. Will there be still snow in the mountain sides?

    1. We have tried to address the issues and questions that we faced while doing the Amarnath yatra and figuring stuff out for it. Happy to know that it’s useful for other planning their Amarnath yatra. There are temporary toilet blocks put up by the Indian Army all along the Amarnath yatra route, as well as at the night camps. The reason we say you should try to get the earliest date possible is so that the facilities are reasonably clean. Ours was the 3rd day of the yatra and we faced no issues. No one can predict the snow conditions. We didn’t face much. But the Indian Army does an excellent job f clearing the snow en route in case of fresh snowfall.

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  17. Very nice article… Can we afford to book return ticket from srinagar on the next day of yatra permit from baltal..

    1. You can return by a late afternoon flight. But we think that would be cutting it close. We always recommend having a buffer day in case the weather acts up. Also, during the Amarnath yatra the routes from Baltal and Pahalgam towards Srinagar see some very high traffic. Travel times can easily be double than the usual. Factor in all of this before booking your tickets back from Srinagar.

  18. It is too good N helpful too.can we visit jwalamukhi on our return…If so how can we plan it.

    1. You will need to return to cross the Jawahar tunnel and the new Chanani-Nashri tunnel and come to Udhampur from where you can head to Katra. You might find local taxis at Anantnag. You will need to ask the local people.

    1. Generally it is valid only for allotted day in your case it is Tuesday. It is better to change the date in advance if you are not able to make it on Tuesday.

  19. Hi! We would like to start around 4th -5th june from jammu. we are taking yatra parchi now.
    can you please tell how we go to pahalgam from jammu. we would reach jammu around 1 pm, will we get tickets of buses from jammu for next days?

    we have to book return tickets, if we keep 2 days extra for this journy would it be enough?

    1. Ideally you should stay in Pahalgam one day prior to alloted Yatra day. There are tents in Pahalgam for yatris. Next day morning you can take local jeeps from Pahalgam to Chandanwari to begin your yatra. Not clear about your 2nd question. You should finish yatra on the 3rd day at Baltal.

        1. You will find buses from the Jammu bus station to Srinagar. There is a fork on the route where the road goes to Pahalgam. The driver/people in the bus can tell you the exact spot where to get off. From here, you’ll need to hire a taxi to Pahalgam. During the Amarnath season, it’ll be easy to find a taxi. On the way back, you will have o come to Srinagar for a bus/cab for Jammu.

  20. Thanks for this information sandeepa and Chetan

    Please tell me if we are coming back from Baltal so can we go for Kargil memorial on same day? If yes please tell me the way.

  21. I just read this but it’s as though I did the yatra . Awesome post. Just Great. I want to take pahalgam route. From Srinagar I reach Pahalgam. I read that we should be showing the yatra pass some where to gain entry. Where that is? At what time should we be in that place.

    1. Your yatra pass will be checked at the gate of the Nunwan basecamp at Pahalgam if you choose to stay in the camp. You can also stay at a hotel in Pahalgam if that’s what you’d prefer. On the day you start your yatra, try to commence from Pahalgam at the earliest possible – 6-6.30 AM would be ideal. From here on, the yatra pass is checked several times, including a detailed checking at Chandanwari.

  22. Many Many Thanks Sandeepa and Chetan, that’s absolutely fabulous article to help any first time pilgrim or even the seasoned ones. I am wishing to plan my Amarnath journey in July-Aug and your article have almost given all answers of what I was concerned about. Only 1 question I have is can I travel alone and how safe it would be since I have never travelled alone in India. I am from India but residing in New Zealand since few years. Much appreciate your reply and wish you all the best for your future travels… Your blog is amazing.. 🙂

    1. Hey Henal, Kashmir overall and the Amarnath yatra is perfectly safe for solo female travellers. There is immense security provided by the Indian Army and the police. You’ll meet several travellers along the way – couples, families, solo travellers of all age groups. For the night halts at the camps, the locals who provide the tents are considerate enough to club female travellers with a family.

  23. Revanu Navadgi

    Will the permit allow ascent via Pahalgam and descent via Baltal. We plan to fly in and out of Srinagar. In that case where should we leave our bags. Could we visit holy cave, descent via Baltal and drive to Srinagar on the same day. Thanks Sandeepa and Chetan!

    1. Hey Revanu, the permit mentions the route through which you can get to the Amarnath cave. You can return via any route you want. To ascend via Pahalgam and return via Baltal, you will need a yatra permit for the Pahalgam route. You’ll need to get to Pahalgam at least the night before your Amarnath yatra is supposed to start. Stay in a hotel or at the base camp at Nunwan in Pahalgam. There are locker facilities available. If you stay in a hotel, they’ll also allow you to keep your luggage. Ascending via Pahalgam and descending via Baltal is a common practice for the Amarnath yatra. Returning to Srinagar the same night though possible, might be a stretch. Recommend staying at the base camp in Baltal (or in a hotel at Sonmarg), having a good night’s sleep and rest then proceeding to Srinagar.

  24. Thanks Sandeepa / Chetan,

    Just fantastic narrative and representation of the pilgrimage. You have captured the trip in words and pictures beautifully.

    I am planning a trip in July’18 – ascent via Pahalgam and descent via Baltal. My questions are around return timing and luggage pickup.
    – During ascent could we leave our luggage at Pahalgam and proceed?
    – Do we need to camp at Sheeshnag and Panchtarni two nights or can we do the full trek from Chandanwadi-Sheeshnag-Panchtrani same day and camp one night only at Panchtarni?
    – On descent from Baltal, how long is the trip and your suggested route to get to Pahalgam to pickup our luggage?
    – Can we do descent to Baltal and back to Pahalgam on the same day after darshan? We are considering a Monday for darshan so factoring in the queue will be longer

    Appreciate your reply. We are quite confused on the return trip considering we need to return back on Tuesday after Monday darshan. Any alternate suggestions very welcome!

    Thanks again, Revanu.

    1. Getting back to Baltal and reaching Pahalgam will be a stretch, you will reach Pahalgam pretty late in the night – will not recommend this. At the most, you can get to Srinagar on that day. But we will recommend staying back in the campsite at Baltal. Rest in Baltal, have a good meal, a good night’s sleep and the next morning continue to journey towards Pahalgam.
      We have already addressed the other concerns you have in the post above, hope you find them useful.
      Happy travels and hope wish you a safe Amarnath yatra.

  25. Hi Sandeepa,

    Thanks for nice blog\article. Totally how many days we require to complete Amarnath yatra? I am from Bengaluru.


    1. You can fly into Srinagar and leave for Pahalgam the same day. Start your Amarnath yatra the next day. After 2 nights (Sheshnag and Panchtarini being the night halts), you will reach Baltal base camp on the 3rd night. You can return to Pahalgam/ Srinagar the next day. That makes it minimum 5 days if you go via the Pahalgam route. Recommend keeping an extra buffer day.

  26. Hi Sandeep,

    Great information. It provides all information for anyone to do this yatra. Did you carry a DSLR for this yatra? If so, are there places to safely deposit the camera and other valuables. Also, for the night stay camps, do we need to book in advance? Please let me know.

    1. Hello Balaji, we did carry the DSLR, which we had to deposit along with all other stuff that we had carried on the Amarnath yatra at one of the shops leading to the Amarnath cave. We had to buy some prasad from them in exchange for keeping our bags safe. They do not have any official lockers to put your stuff in. You don’t need to book the night stays at the camps during the Amarnath yatra. There are enough tents for all the pilgrims.

  27. Thanks for this virtual tour from the scenic Pahalgam side. What spectacular photographs too! 🙂 Also, will be very helpful for prospective yatris looking to go on the Amarnath Yatra.

    1. Glad to read you think it’ll be useful for travelers planning to go on the Amarnath yatra. If there’s anything more you think we should include, please do let us know.

  28. Hi! sandeepa and chetan,
    your pictures and info literally took us to amarnath!, very informative and encouraging!
    you have not mentioned anything about getting a Yatri Pass, I am in Bangalore is it possible to get one at the authorized banks PNB or JK bank across the counter,before I embark on the flight to Srinagar. Are there any travel agencies who will do this for me. we are 2 of us and r planning to be at the shrine on 4th august.
    How long does an average person take to reach the cave on foot from chandanwari!

    the date on the YP has to match the date we reach the cave or the date we start the journey on foot from chandanwari!.

    thanks and anticipating your early reply..
    ashok and sai

  29. I’m really excited by seeing your writing. Whenever I talk about making Yatra to Amaranatha, my relative always used to say it will not be possible from me, as I’m 60+ years, 89 kgs, with very little habit of walking.
    Now, after seeing your blog, I also feel confident. However, I need one small clarification :
    1) If I go by helicopter, how many kms of walk I hv to do?
    Nagaraju SM

  30. Amit Kalsariya

    Sandeepa and Chetan,

    What a beautiful expression of your lovely experience to amaranth yatra, it’s an amazing and inspiring too, I like your story so much because being a photographer and as a mount trekker I was searching root of amarnath that you can go without help of horses and taking beautiful shots of heaven of the India, I’ve been curious to go next year because my brother just arrived yesterday morning from there but he was on baltal root,

    Thanks again for sharing your memories with us,

    1. Thanks, Amit. Amarnath yatra route via Pahalgam is exceptionally beautiful! You will enjoy photography around here! Just make sure you carry enough batteries because they drain out fast in the cold.

  31. Hi, while I waz reading ur blog it gave me great courage n now I feel more exciting travelling there. We are leaving on Sunday for this trip n certainly I can feel some churning in my stomach whether I’ll be able to make this trip or not, while searching do’s and don’t helped me with your blog, It’s really inspiring and a heartfelt thanks to you.

    1. Wish you a safe and successful Amarnath yatra. Let us know how it goes. We too had many many butterflies in the stomach the morning we started! It’s just natural 🙂

  32. hello sir,
    first of all thank you so much for such a detailed blog. i have 2 questions:
    1. is there any limit on the number of nights we can stay at nunwan and
    2. what is the estimate cost per person for overnight stay at nunwan.

    1. Hello Prateek, they will let you in the camps only a day before your Amarnath yatra date. After the yatra, you can stay for longer in the camps. They cost of staying at the camps is put up at the Pahalgam TRC. It is around Rs. 300. Food at the bhandaras is free of cost.

  33. Hi, we r 2 friends having registration of 16th July from chandanvari route. What is the best route while return, and where to keep luggage. And the date 16th July is to start from chandanvari or pahalgam??

    1. You can return via Baltal. You will reach the Baltal camp by late evening after your darshan in the holy cave. Most pilgrims who do the Amarnath yatra on foot go up the Chandanwari (Pahalgam) route and down the Baltal route.
      Your date of 16th July is for leaving from Pahalgam early morning. You will leave the camp/hotel in Pahalgam early morning and take a bus/taxi to Chandanwari. You should reach Chandanwari in a couple of hours from Pahalgam. The climb/trek starts at Chandanwari.

      1. Our route for Amarnathji’s darshan is as proposed/planned that is to return back via Baltal ;but only question is that if weather condition shows not comfortable very much to comeback during return path [after darshan of Lord SHIVA LINGA] ( other programs too were set from Baltal side )then where we can stay for the night ,will have to come down to Panchtarni camp or we should continue to descend down towards Baltal route slowly /cautiously along with others as there will not be no camp within Amarnathji temple to Baltal route ?

        1. Hello Kamal Kumar
          This is a very valid question. Since there is no arrangement for stay at the Amarnath holy cave, the nearest camping option is Panchtarini or then Baltal. One thing to keep in mind is, the Indian Army keeps close track of the weather and snow conditions along the entire route. If they feel the slightest chance of bad weather, they will halt the Amarnath yatra for the day. You will not be allowed to leave the camps at Panchtarini.
          We faced slight rainfall during the descent to Baltal. While this route provided us to have hot piping dosas at one of the bhandaras while it rained outside, we continued the descent slowly and steadily. The CRPF and JKP guys keep the crowds in order and all the yatris formed a single file and got off the route. Everything went smoothly.
          One thing we would recommend – for all days of the yatra is to leave the camps as early as you can in the morning. This gives you enough time in the daylight to ascend/descend, even giving you the leeway to halt for a while if you want to.

          1. i recently went on 1st July 2017 to srinagar and than baltal, did my yatra on 2nd July, stayed at the tent near the holy cave at the top and did darshan on 3rd morning and than descend to baltal and than to srinagar the same day. tent stay options are ample near the holycave

          2. Thanks for the information given , ADVICE to my inquiry &may be useful input to many others and act as ready reckoner as and when it may require ..

  34. We are 7 friends from delhi, have registered for 5th July via chandanwari route.We want to return via baltal route.
    My query is there any facility for leaving extra bags in srinagar???

    1. To go via the Chandanwari route for your Amarnath yatra, you will have to cross Pahalgam, in fact, stay in Pahalgam for the night before. There are locker facilities in Pahalgam.

        1. You will have to go to Pahalgam from Baltal and retrieve bags that you leave in the lockers at Pahalgam. As of now, they do not have the facility of transporting luggage from and to the different starting points of the Amarnath yatra.

  35. Sandeepa and Chetan, good blog. I am planning to go early July. I am in Bangalore and few friends in Delhi. How do we get the same dates and is there a way we can know the availability on particular dates.

    1. There’s no way to know of availability beforehand, they do not display this information online as yet. However, if you’re going for on the spot registration of the Amarnath yatra, you can all go together and choose the same date. If you get in the queue early, you can get the same dates and routes easily.

      1. Sir, We 3(2srctz &1at 56yrs) planned to reach Jammu rly stn on 23rd.July /to start trekking ,use 2mules via Pahalgam / Chandanwari on 25th.July returning via Balatal after shriamarnathjis darshan .We have got lot of tips from your experiences – is there any chance to meet u during that time : however we shall try to exchange our experiences with u / ur site .
        We liked your factual experiences .thnx .

        1. Hello Kamal Kumar, we will be traveling elsewhere during that time. We are glad that our experience of Amarnath yatra was of use to you. We wish you a happy, safe ad successful Amarnath yatra.

      2. Can you throw some more light on “on the spot registration” and how and where to do this?

        1. I found the place to do on-spot registrations.I am wondering is it possible to get next day or day after yatra ticket?

          1. If you manage to be among the first ones in the queue, you could get a day for immediately the next day. We had reached the registration office pretty late since we had first stopped in at the Anantnag government hospital to get the medical fitness certificate. We had got our date for 2 days later. Some of them who had reached earlier had got dates for the immediate next day for both routes of the Amarnath yatra

          2. That sounds reassuring. Few questions on spot registrations:
            1. What time does on-spot registration start
            2. There are three places identified for on-spot registrations, which is better
            3. how was the rush when you went
            4. Usually how many tickets are available for each day for on-spot registration, any idea (i know it all depends on availability etc. any thoughts will help)
            5. Any idea on lean dates (when the crowd or rush will be less)?

            Appreciate your help.

  36. We are making the trip in july and your article has been most helpful in a realistic and precise manner. Thank you so much.



    1. Hello Dr Swamy, we are pleased to know that our blog about the Amarnath yatra has inspired you. You can stay on 10th night in the Baltal base camps. On 11th, you can head straight to Pahalgam (you can hire a taxi. Else you will easily find shared cabs: Baltal-Sonmarg, Sonmarg-Srinagar, Srinagar-Pahalgam). You can then leave early morning on the 12th for Jammu. We would, however, recommend booking your flight from Jammu for the 13th so you have a day to rest and travel slowly back to Jammu. Why don’t you book a return flight from Srinagar itself, so you avoid the long journey from Srinagar to Jammu? This gives you some time to rest and explore a bit of Pahalgam/Sonmarg/Srinagar. Have a happy and safe Amarnath yatra.

  38. HI sandeepa,
    Is this possible to go from baltal and return from phelgam. because i got a registration on 05-07-2017 from baltal.

  39. hi sandeep . ….. i want travel jammu tawi to phelagam. any taxi, or buss there. our permit 0n 18 july am coming jammu tawi at 17 morning is ok.

  40. Hello sandeepa,
    Your article was very informative. But I have a doubt. Our arrival date and time at jammu tawi is 11th July 3pm , and we have registered for permit on 12th of July. So will I reach pahalgam on time or have I taken a risk, as you have suggested to reach pahalgam a day before the registered date.

    1. The best thing you can do right now is canceling your tickets to Jammu and book a flight to Srinagar. Even if you reach Srinagar in the evening, it still gives you time to get to Pahalgam, settle in the basecamp, have dinner, rest and have a good night’s sleep before commencing your Amarnath yatra. The following 3 days will be long and exhausting and you want to feel perfectly healthy before you start your Amarnath yatra.
      Jammu to Pahalgam is a journey of over 250 km and we wouldn’t recommend doing it in the night. Even if you hire a direct taxi to Pahalgam, you will be reaching Pahalgam very late at night. And you’ll have to start for your Amarnath yatra early the next morning. So yes, it is a risk. Some risks are worth taking. But this one is something we wouldn’t recommend. Booking a flight to Srinagar is the best option we can suggest.
      Safe a safe and successful Amarnath yatra.

  41. Hello sandeepa chetan is locker facility is available at baltal Base Camp? Pls reply me fast …

    1. hi sandeepa i am from hydrabad we are got parmmet on 07-07-2017 via phelgam
      any shoping center at phelagam or chandanwadi
      raincots, etc purches and also when we came to phelgam
      plz tell me

      1. Hi Ramesh, there are stores inside the base camp at Nunwan (Pahalgam) from where you can buy raincoats, walking stick (recommended if you aren’t a regular trekker) and masks (if you think the smell of horse dust will be a problem). There is also a huge market at Pahalgam from where you can stock up on some knick-knacks like dry fruits, biscuits or chocolates for the Amarnath yatra. Wish you a safe yatra. Happy travels!

        1. we hava reach jammu tawi on july 6th moaring 4 am we reach phelagam at time plz sugest me

  42. Excellent detail next only to achieve it practically to get the excellent feeling.One thing ,we have registered from our city for the holy journey through J & K SASB ‘s authorised bank getting CHC to from its authorised health centre & doctor ;then should we go the Tourist centre in Jammu / Shrinagar further report to get registration again /intimate etc or may go directly to Chandwari to report / cross verification of 3 copies of Yatra permit at this point , preliminary check up and for appraisal further about Do’s Don’ts etc / take all needful instructions/advice etc.

    1. Hello Kamal, since you have registered already in your city and also have the medical certificate, you do not need to go any other registration office. Just stick to the date and route mentioned in your permit. You can stay at the Pahalgam base camp the night before your Amarnath yatra commences.

  43. Hi I want to do on spot registration at jammu, what time will taken for registration pls guide me all the details of on spot registration

  44. Hi Sandeepa Chetan,

    I’m Narendran and I would like to know if I can select the required date for the yatra? I want to take the shortest route up to the cave and while returning, explore the other route. So can I fix the dates accordingly?

    Say I don’t want to register and go directly (because I want to travel according to my own dates). Can I then go with a medical certificate,and register somewhere near Baltal/Sonamarg before beginning the yatra?

    Thanks for letting me know,
    Narendran. M

    1. Hello Narendran, you can register in Srinagar – but your dates would be restricted by the number of slots available for the on the spot registration. We had registered on the spot in Srinagar (they do not have registration counters near the Amarnath yatra commencement points) and got a date for 3 days later.
      We would recommend going up by the longer (Pahalgam) route and coming down via the shorter (Baltal) route. Because the Baltal route is a steady ascent (on the way up) and descent (on the way down), it’s easier getting down it than up.

  45. Very useful article……….i,ve got permit for Pahalgam route for date 16/07/2017…………….
    Q.1:- Am i eligible for return journey via Baltal route??
    Q.2:- What “date” means?? entering Jammu or Pahalgam camp or something else…….
    Q.:3- Are cigarettes strictly banned??

    1. Hello Kapil, yes – you can return via any route. If you have ben assigned the Pahalgam route, you can return via Baltal. You will be allowed to stay in the Baltal campsite after you return from the yatra as well as at Pahalgam, should you need to later. That’s exactly what we did.
      Date means the date you commence the yatra from Pahalgam (you will take a jeep/bus onward to Chandanwari and start on foot from there onward). Leave as early as you can in the morning, the roads are jam packed and there’s a lot of checking. You will be allowed to stay in the Pahalgam campsite (at Nunwan) the previous night.
      Cigarettes are banned, they check. Besides, it isn’t safe to carry anything combustible on you as you trek up. It’s risky to you and your fellow pilgrims.
      Wish you a happy and safe Amarnath yatra.

  46. sundeep boorugu

    hi sandeepa name is also sundeep.. i have read ur amarnath yatra article which u hve mentioned detailed..that was really great by u. but a small info i need .
    this yr 2017 the yatra starts on 29th of June.. infact i got medical chk up frm doctors . an its clean. so can i travel on July 2nd from hyd this yatra.. coz i heard form a lot ppl saying go as early as possible coz due to pollution the shiv ling fastly melt.. n more over i am trvelling frm hyd to jammu through.. so frm jammu can u guide me brother.. from jammu shld i go directly go to srinagar or pahalgum pls uggest .. this is my 1st amarnath yatra tour.. need ur suggestions.. can i hve ur num .TIA

    1. Hello Sundeep, when you register for the Amarnath yatra, you are assigned the date you should start your yatra on as well as the route. You must stick to that date.

  47. 2travellingsisters

    Reading this post we had a virtual yantra of this holy place! The pictures are breath taking, few look so surreal! 🙂

  48. shaivikafunda

    Hi, what a detailed and insightful post! My in-laws had been there in the 80’s and today I made them relive the experience through ur post.

    1. Oh that’s wonderful, Shaivi! Things must’ve been quite different back them. Do they have any photos from their Amarnath yatra? Would love to know more of their experience!

    1. Thanks, we want to encourage people to take u the Amarnath yatra on foot, by themselves. Hopefully the story of our journey to the Amarnath holy cave will inspire others and give them the confidence that they too can do it on their own.

  49. Rajdip Chakraborty

    hello sir, is there any deadline time to entry from the gate for the same day? or i have the entire day to entry ?

    1. Hello Rajdip, there is a set time. Try to leave as early as you can. On day 1, there is a lot of checking from Pahalgam to Chandanwari. The jeeps/buses are stopped by the JKP or CRPF to check the registration of all the passengers. And there is a cut off time, beyond which you aren’t allowed to start because then it means that the chances of reaching the camp by nightfall are dim. These restrictions are for your own safety so it is better to adhere to the time. IF you miss your start day, you might not be allowed to proceed on the next day (it is completely at the discretion of the official you talk to).

      1. Rajdip Chakraborty

        sir, can i get a clock room or locker in pahalgam or chandanwari for my extra luggage?

        1. Hello Rajdip, you can store your luggage in Pahalgam. There is storage facility available. You can find more information at the Pahalgam TRC once you get there.

  50. Hello Sandeepa and Chetan, You have provided an excellent account about on Amarnath Yatra. I have completed Yatra earlier twice on Horse from Panchtarni route with Family. This time I want to trek. Will it be possible for you to let me know about any groups planning to do this and which I can join. Thanks & regards

    1. Hello Tripti, you do not really need to join a group for the Amarnath yatra. Just register and reach the Nunwan base camp at Pahalgam a day before the prescribed date. You will meet many fellow pilgrims there and you can group together with anyone of these. Even while climbing, there are many other pilgrims always walking with you, so you always have company. The JKP and the CRPF staff is always close by in case you need anything.

  51. Hello Guys,

    ‘Quit your jobs, Sold your house and Travelling the world” WOW !! Read your article with great interest. I always had this in mind for the past 10 years but couldn’t muster the courage to do it. It still is on my mind and hopefully i will do it sooner than later. Congratulations to you both for this decision, you are living it up.

    Now coming back to my need for some assistance for the Amarnathji Yatra. I have done the Valley of Flowers and the Hemkund Saheb trek in August last. I trekked from Gobindghat to Ghangharia (11kms) in about 9 to 10 hrs at my pace n energy. The next day did the valley of flowers in about 3 hrs and 5 hours on return leg, then did the Hemkund uphill by horse and down hill by foot in about 4 hrs. I found the downhill journey far more difficult than uphill because of the pressure on the knees and feet. So my physical condition was average but lots of determination. I am 53 but am 20 at heart with an urge to travel the world.

    Now i have been walking regularly since Jan for about 5 to 8 kms in the mornings and intend to continue the same in preparation for my Amarnathji Trip. I will continue to build the endurance for this. So you think i can do this trip in 3 days uphill from Pehalgam and return Via Baltal in 1 day?

    A few other questions:

    1. Necessary to carry an Oxygen cannister?
    2. The Water proof shoes that i bought for the Valley of flowers trek okay for Amarnathji trip?
    3. I have all other things like woolen Socks, Rain coat, Jacket, Pull over, climbing trousers etc from my previous trek trip, U think this is ok?
    4. Are Thermals absolutely necessary?
    5. Can you extend your stay in the tents for a day if need be?
    6. Once you finish the Darshan is it necessary for you to come back to the starting point of 6 Kms if you have to descend via Baltal?
    7. Any thing that you may want to add?

    Thanks in advance for your assistance.

    God bless u both


    1. Hello Sudhakar, kudos to your zeal and we have only this to say, “go for it!”. The Amarnath yatra trek is not really a difficult one. Especially from the Pahalgam side, the uphill, downhill and plain stretches are nicely paced so you don’t strain your legs and knees moving in only one direction. And the landscape is breathtaking! That coupled with seeing fellow pilgrims of all ages (some even in simple slippers!) is a big motivator and doesn’t let you tire out till you reach the campsite.
      You do not need an oxygen cannister. All the other gear that yo have is sufficient for the Amarnath yatra. If you do not want to carry the rain coat, you get thin lightweight ponchos along the way which give decent protection. Recommend wearing thermals because it gets quite cold in the night. It isn’t too uncomfortable with the thermals during the day. You can always take off the sweater. Have a look at this comment too.
      The Baltal and Pahalgam routes meet at a point called Sangam (around 3 km but takes longer because there are just too many people there besides shops and bhandaras), till where you return back from the holy cave and then proceed to Baltal side.

      Happy yatra and happy travels! DO let us know how the experience was for you!

  52. Hi Dear, thank you so much for useful information, it will help me this time. I got registration for coming Amarnath Yatra. Am going alone from my all dear n near, I would like to go by walking with Pahalgam route, we have come back by the same route.
    As per your blog one week is require for both ways.
    What is the horse cost ?
    Is the horse is available between the way?
    Kirti Raval ( Ahmedabad)

    1. Hi Kirti, if you feel tired you can hire a horse midway. The rates for the horses are fixed by the board each year, though if you hire it midway, they might charge you a premium. It will take 6-7 days for going up and coming back by the Pahalgam route for the Amarnath yatra. Try to return by the Baltal route if you do not want to trek for so many days. Happy travels and all the best!

  53. Hi it’s very useful information and I want to know is tents are safe for ladies

    1. Hi Divya, the tents are safe. The tent owners take precautions while pairing the tent mates, they will usually club in couples/solo female travellers with families. Do not worry.

  54. Suparna Banerjee

    You have described the trip very nicely. I just want to know , we are going in 12 persons group. what will be the convenient for luggage, a porter or horse? how much it costs? How will be the weather(temperature). How many woolen clothes are needed?

    Suparna Banerjee

    1. Hello Suparna, wish you a happy Amarnath yatra. It is too soon to tell how the weather will be and the weather can change drastically overnight in the high mountains. Be prepared for rain, wind and cold. Recommend woollen socks, woollen caps and a sweater. Keep a jacket (windcheater) with you. For the rains, you can buy a poncho that you get around the Amarnath camps. We had also kept a layer of thermals with us. You can use a porter or horse for luggage, whatever makes you comfortable. They do walk very fast, though. So if there is anything that you will need as you walk, recommend keeping that in a bag with you. Stay away from doing the yatra on horses, do not recommend them AT ALL.

  55. Very well explained in your blog Sandeep. Few questions as I am too planning for Sri Amarnath Darshan in 2017:

    1. Can same day ascend and descend via pehelgam route is possible as lot of crowd is there at the holy cave ? Or night halt at Sheshnag base camp is needed in any situation ?

    2. Will authorities allow you descending via Baltal if your permit is ascending via Pahalgam ?

    3. In which Hotel you stayed in Pahalgam ? We’ll plan to acclimatize ourselves by staying one day at Pahalgam.

    Shefali Shukla
    New Delhi

    1. Hello Shefali, to ascend the Amarnath yatra route via Pahalgam, you will need to halt for 2 nights along the way (night 1 at Sheshnag, night 2 at Panchatarini). Horses going up via this route skip Sheshnag. Then you spend only one night (at Panchatarini) before getting to the Amarnath cave. We do not recommend horses AT ALL.
      You can descend via any route you want, however for climbing up, you must stick to the route and the start date strictly. On the way back after the Amarnath darshan, you can stay at both Baltal and Pahalgam.
      You can stay at the Nunwan base camp in Pahalgam on the night before your commencement. If you want to stay longer, there are many hotels in Pahalgam. We recommend any which is away from the main market road.
      We wish you a happy and safe Amarnath yatra.

      1. Hello Dipak, if you plan to tr. You will be staying tents (at Nunwan [Pahalgam base camp], Sheshnag and Panchatarini. The rates for the tents at each camp are fixed by the government every year, it should be somewhere between Rs. 200 to Rs.300 each night. Other expenses will be some supplies you might want to carry – ORS packs, some nuts, walking stick, rain poncho and a BSNL sim card if you choose to buy it – in all a few hundred rupees ….
        at one place ,you have mentioned /rather strongly recommended /mentioning that you never suggest /prefer to take pittu /horse during journey up to the cave [may be health may not allow horse for hire or so .

        PLEASE INTIMATE WHY YOU DO NOT ever allow horse upto cave -on you only …please reply soon if this advice is okay !!!!

        1. We do not recommend horses based on what we saw and the experiences of fellow travelers who took the horse for the yatra but suffered. First of all, the horses are always on the valley side, not the hillside. The hillside is for those walk, it is always the safer side to be on (esp on the Baltal route). If by some chance, the horse takes a fall, the rider will prioritise saving the horse over you (simple logic: the horse is their means of earning a livelihood, not the rider.) This has been an account of our tent mate who took a fall and was told this exact thing by the horse owner. Horses move fast as their owners want to do as many rides as they can. It creates a rather uncomfortable situation for the rider who is not used to sitting on a horse in the first place. The “palkhi” in this case is better than the horse.
          From all these observations, we feel it is better to work on your health and fitness. Amarnath yatra is not an arduous trek and a little bit of regular climbing practice will enable anyone to do it easily on foot.

  56. lalita varanasi

    Great blog and lovely explanation. Only one question, if I am a lone traveller, a woman, can I take more time…to ascend…as I am not sure of the speed and also is it safe for a lone woman traveller?

    1. Hello Lalita, the Amarnath yatra is perfectly safe for a solo woman traveller. There are hundreds of others on the same route as yours, so it’s easy to find company along the way. Also, the Indian army is posted at regular intervals – so any help needed is easily available. The distances are easy to cover for even old pilgrims and getting to the campsite at the end of the day should not be a problem even if you walk really slow. In fact, you should move ahead at your own pace irrespective of the speed of the fellow pilgrims. A steady pace is the best way to move ahead. Also, if you feel the need for resting a day longer, you can easily stay for another day at any of the camps. Follow a fitness routine as we have suggested above and the Amarnath yatra will be a joyous experience.

      1. Hello Lalita,
        I am planning to go for Amarnath ji darshan in first Week of Jul 2017. If you are ok, you can join me. Kindly let me know

  57. No words seriously!!!! You written it very well and the most important thing is that don’t missed any single thing that happened during Amarnath Yatra! From Tented camps to cave everything you covered in it. Thanks to sharing it Sandeepchetan 

  58. Hello Sandeep,

    Very nice blog.

    I just wanted to know the total approx expenses, If i start from Pahalgam route?


    Dipak Agarwal

    1. Hello Dipak, if you plan to trek up to the Amarnath cave from Pahalgam, your expenses will be negligible. You will be staying tents at Nunwan (Pahalgam base camp), Sheshnag and Panchatarini. The rates for the tents at each camp are fixed by the government every year, it should be somewhere between Rs. 200 to Rs.300 each night. Other expenses will be some supplies you might want to carry – ORS packs, some nuts, walking stick, rain poncho and a BSNL sim card if you choose to buy it – in all a few hundred rupees more. If you do not plan to walk and want to hire a horse instead, then you will pay extra for the horse (to carry you) and a porter (to carry your stuff).

  59. Namaskar Sandeepa and Chetan … Guys ur blog inspired us……We are from Maharashtra and planning to Amarnath Yatra.
    So can u plz guide us ..Hume kaha registration karna hoga if we come from Maharashtra by train.and other compulsory things which is we have to be do. and we are planing this trek as per ur is that ohk na agar hum khudse plan karke jaye without any tour packages….????
    Plz guide us

    1. Hello Avinash, we are happy to know that the story of our Amarnath yatra experience has inspired to you plan a trip of your own. It can easily be done by yourself, without booking any packages. The registration opens around March, be on the lookout for the registration open news. You can register for the yatra at the local banks that they tie up with, the announcement will give clear directions for the same. You will need to get a health certificate from the government hospital. Stay tuned for around March, we will also be notifying our readers through Facebook and Twitter when the Amarnath yatra registration opens. In the meanwhile, you can start building up your fitness – regular exercise at home will make the trek to Amarnath very easy.

  60. Pingback: Pilgrimage at LOC: A privilege and a paradox -

  61. I live in South America and your blog inspired me to take on this pilgrimage next year. Thank you and lots of love from Suriname.

    1. Hey Sharona! Thank you so much – you are probably our first reader from Suriname! We missed out on visiting your country on our first trip to South aMerica – simply because the visas were a bit complicated. Hopefully next time! Hope you do make it to Amarnath next year. Happy travels!

  62. Hello Sandeep,

    Very nice blog.
    I just wanted to know the expenses, if I trek to the holy cave from Pahalgam route.
    Apart from registration charges(which is Rs.50), food and accomodation charges, are there any charges to be paid?
    Thanks in advance for your reply.

    1. You will not have to pay any charges for the food as the bhandaras along the way serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. You will have to pay for the tents when you halt, the rates are fixed and displayed in Pahalgam. If you need hit water for bathing during the yatra, you will have to pay extra. Also, you might want to buy a SIM card provided specially for the pilgrims so you can stay in touch even along the trek. If you want to carry some light food with you like nuts and chocolates, some ORS packs, masks to cover your mouth and a trekking stick, these will incur some additional expenses. Have a safe yatra.

  63. Hi Chetan,

    We went on the Amarnath yatra on 13 Aug via Baltal. We started the trek early morning and came down to the base camp same evening. It was an experience of a lifetime. Your advises were very helpful, Thank you.


      Hello Mayank, this is Rajdip, we have completed our registration via baltal this year. can u please tell me where can we safely hold our extra luggage in baltal



  65. Jyoti Chhokra

    Hello Sandeep.

    Hope you are doing well!.

    Really Appreciated , awesome travelogue!

    Thanks for sharing your experience. I have one query here, Initially we have decided to take the route of Baltal. But now after going through with the experience shared by people like you, we are planning to go by Pahalgam and to come back by Baltal. As out flight is for tomm early morning from Delhi to Srinagar. We are having registration from Baltal, but curious to go by Pahalgam instead. So I request your immediate reply if you can please,
    ” would it be possible to go by Pahalgam, if we have registration for Baltal route ? ” would the authorities allow us to go by Pahalgam and come back by Baltal ?

    1. You have to travel by the route you have registered for. If you want to change the route, you can do the on-the-spot registration in Srinagar and change your route.

  66. Maragathavalli Inbamuthiah

    Beautifully captured and informative. Thanks for sharing your experience. I am leaving in a week for Amarnath albeit by helicopter as we are taking old people with us, but your pictures make me crave for the actual trek – maybe some other time!

  67. Hi…I liked the way u narrated ur amaranth trip story n ur experience…just reminded me our trip…it was awesome nawesome… I loved your pics…Jai Bhole!!!!!

  68. A big thanks Sandeep,
    I’m planning for yatra this year and this is what I was looking for on the review.. Pictures were awesome.. i cant wait to trek on those snow trails..

  69. Lovely blog Sandeep. Enjoyed reading every bit. I, along with 5 frnds, planning the pilgrimmage in July 2015. After reading you blog and seeing the pics cant wait to start off the yatra. Just one question. What are he probable dates with least crowd expected.

    1. Hello Umashankar, there is probably no such date. Since most of the Amaranth yatris register themselves much in advance and have to comply by the date they are assigned to. Wish you and your friends a safe Amarnath yatra.

  70. Hi Sandeepa Chetan, awesome travelogue! After reading other blogs, was somewhat apprehensive of our plans to undertake ghd yatra on 8th July from baltal. But you blog and photos made me feel that its a must see place. We did Manas sarovar and Kailash yatra last June and temptation to visit Himalayas again is high!
    A couple of queries please.
    – Can a 10 year old boy undertake the yatra? What abt 13 years old boy? In good health.
    – if we use helicopter, how is the acclimatization managed ?

    Thank you and keep traveling and blogging. You write very well.
    – Prabha

    1. Amaranth yatra should be possible for young boys in good health. It is a tiring route from Baltal, since you are continuously climbing up towards the cave. If you take the helicopter, there won’t be enough time for acclimatization. But it is only 6 km climb once you disembark from the helicopter at Panchatarini. Wish you a safe Amaranth yatra.

  71. Hi sandeepa and chetan .Buses are available all time from jammu to pahalgam coz i can reach jammu at 9:30am. Or timimg is fixed . And can i get proper guidance as i m going for the 1st time.

  72. Hi sandeep
    my date to visit amarnath is 8july. So i should book my train for 6july night to reach jammu in the next morning 7july and then take bus to pahalgam. Please assist me as i dont know how much time it would take for jammu to pahalgam and how to reach there and when will the yatra start or i have to stay pahalgam at night before yatra

    1. Hello Vineet
      To start your Amarnath yatra from Pahalgam on 8th July, you should be in Pahalgam on 7th. Take one of the shared jeeps from Jammu to Srinagar. It takes 1-1.5 hour to get to Pahalgam from Srinagar. On the way from Jammu to Srinagar, you can get off at the Pahalgam diversion and take the route towards Pahalgam. However, it might not be easy to get a connecting vehicle at this point. It’s safer to go to Srinagar and from there get into a shared jeep going to Pahalgam. If you leave early in the morning from Jammu, you should reach Pahalgam base camp by late evening.

  73. Prasad Bhanushali

    The narration is excellent….nice photography and details of sadhu ..absolutely true.I deed felt the same on my Kedarnath yatra last year .These sadhus walk right from Haridwar to kedarnath almost 250 km .I have plan my yatra in month of Aug..your blog will definately help me…..

  74. Lovely Travelogue ! I’m just wondering about hiring a porter, I have done Kailash and I know even a jacket seems to weigh a ton.
    Are porters availble ?

    1. Thank you Meena! and Congratulations on completing the Kailash yatra. All the best for the Amarnath yatra. Porters are easily available right from Chandanwari all the way to even somewhere close to the Amarnath cave. You might even find them hounding you to hire their services.

  75. Anjali Parikh

    Hi..Sandeepa Chetan,
    I and my cousin we two ladies are going for yatra on 4th July.I wish to do this yatra on my foot…I want to know that to carry my laggage can I get porter over there?..or should I take horse in case of emergency. we will start our yatra from Pehlgam route n end it by baltal so can’t leave our luggage at pehlgam..we have return flight tickets from Shrinagar..we won’t take too much luggage but whatever we have for that what we can do?
    And yes I loved to read your yatra excellent. ..

    1. How many days does it take to get pilgrim and medical certificate. If i register now can i get my date around 5july

      1. Hello Shubham
        We were already in Kashmir when we decided to do the Amarnath yatra. So we went from Pahalgam to Anantnag, did the medical certification at a public hospital there, then the yatra registration at the “on-the-spot” centre in Srinagar TRC. (The centre was later shifted near the Srinagar railway station, which is much further away from the main city.) We got the date for 2 days later to proceed on our Amarnath yatra via the Pahalgam route. This is one way of getting your registration.
        You can ofcourse do the registration in your hometown, but we do not have experience about this. Have a look at the Amarnath shrine board website, you will certainly find all the information there. Either this or on-the-spot, we don’t think getting a date for 5th July should be a problem.
        Whatever date you get, do stick to that date, they are very strict about checking this at all the checkpoints. People try to bend the rules, some are ven successful. But we strongly advise against doing this.

    2. Hello Anjali, congratulations on deciding to do the Amarnath yatra on foot. It is the best way to experience this journey. Porters are easily available right from Chandanwari, they are called “pittu”. You can easily avail their services. Also, a lot of pilgrims do start their Amarnath yatra at Pahalgam and end it at Baltal. They leave their luggage behind at the lockers in Pahalgam. Pahalgam-Srinagar is an hour long journey. All the best to you and your cousin for your Amarnath yatra.

    3. Hello Sandeepa and Chetan, You have provided an excellent account about on Amarnath Yatra. I have completed Yatra earlier twice on Horse from Panchtarni route with Family. This time I want to trek. Will it be possible for you to let me know about any groups planning to do this and which I can join. Thanks & regards

  76. Like you said just 1500 people per day then how they can manage 4lakh people(as per previous year record). Please tell. Coz i can just go between 5 to 15 july.

  77. Thanks for the answer @sandeep
    how many days it would take for medical and pilgrim certificate. Also the restriction to the people 1500 is according to the city(panipat) to which a person belong or people crossing pahalgam for yatra and how many days before a person could register himself Like this time yatra starts from 2july

  78. Is this compulsory for one to be in group or one can go indiviually. What about tents they take charges per head or book the whole.

    1. Hello Sahil, you do not need a group to go for Amaranth yatra. You will find many individual pilgrims on the way. Tents are charged on a per person basis.

  79. Could we get date to visit amarnath according to our need or they will decide. What about electricity to charge the phones. Is there any diffrence being a early visitor or afterones

  80. Hi
    what is delux and semi delux vehicle also what about the clothes we’ll be wearing do we take the luggage along with us or we wearing the same for 3 days

    1. Hello Vinay, which vehicles are you referring to? If you are talking about the buses from Jammu to Srinagar, you will actually not find much difference in these buses. You can keep your excess luggage at the lockers in Pahalgam and only take the stuff that you need. Whether you want to wear the same clothes or carry the clothes for 3 days is up to you. But we can assure you that its better to wear the same clothes than carry excess baggage. Makes a lot of difference when climbing up. Keep your luggage weight to the minimum. And don’t compromise on the essential things like warm wear and rain protection.

  81. Hi Sandeep…. lovely travelogue…. enjoyed reading it.
    We are a group of 4 women planning to trek to the Holy caves via the traditional route in August. Please let us know if tents are available on as and when we reach the halting place or do we need to make prior bookings. As of now we plan to take off on our own and not through an travel agent.
    Thanks in advance.

    1. Tents are available when you reach the camps, right from Pahalgam. No prior bookings are done nor are the required. As long as you stick to the dates assigned to you and the timings, Amaranth yatra is a pretty easy pilgrimage to go on. Food, stay, medication is very well managed. We wish you all the best for this pilgrimage. Let us know if you need anything more.

      1. Could we get date to visit amarnath according to our need or they will decide. What about electricity to charge the phones. Is there any diffrence being a early visitor or afterones

        1. Hello Shubham, you get the dates depending on the empty slots. They have a restriction of sending 1500 yatris from each of the bases, Pahalgam and Baltal. If this number fills up, then you are given the date for the next day. Charging points are available at the overnight camps. End route, the bhandaras had arranged for charging points at Pishutop and Poshpathri (first and the second day of the Amarnath yatra). The advantage in going early is that the camps are cleaner and there is a better chance of seeing a bigger shivling. Wish you all the best for your Amarnath yatra.

      2. Please If you could make me clear of the official expenses from jammu to pahalgam and then baltal in return including tent.
        If unknown person visit there how he will get to know the route.

        1. Hello Shubhu, from Jammu you take a bus or shared jeep to Srinagar. From Srinagar you can get a sumo jeep to Pahalgam. While returning, you will have to come to Sonmarg from where you will get a sumo jeep for Srinagar. The costs of the tents are fixed by the government every year. We had paid Rs.200 per person at Pahalgam. Cost increases at the higher camps. Once at the Pahalgam base camp, you will find many fellow yatris. So finding the route is not a problem at all. There are many CRPF and JKP personnel on the way to the Amarnath cave. They can guide you in case you have any problem.

  82. Mayank Chauhan

    Hi Sandeepa & Chetan,

    We are a group of five guys in late 20s planning for Amarnath Yatra. We plan to take the Baltal route. As you have mentioned that journey through Baltal must be completed within one day, I am assuming that there are no lights available enroute therefore one must return to the Baltal base camp by sunset, if this is the case then-

    1) Can we come from Srinagar in the morning and return back the same day, considering that Srinagar to Baltal is a 2.5 hrs journey, or

    2) We make a night stay at Baltal before the journey, start the trek early morning and return to Srinagar in the evening.

    I want to know your opinion about the two options. Or if you could suggest something better.


    1. Hello Mayank, option 2 is the feasible option for your plan. You will have to leave from Baltal early in the morning. They have a cut off time after which they do not let the pilgrims out from the base camps. So get to Baltal the previous evening, have a good dinner and a good night’s sleep. Start your Amaranth yatra early the next morning. You will have a long day ahead. There are no camps for a stay over in between on the Baltal route. At the Amaranth cave, they have arrangements for a short nap or rest. But its not adequate for staying over. Days are long at this time if the year, it gets dark only by 8.30 PM, so you will be able to get back to Baltal on time. From here, we would recommend staying the night again at Baltal and proceed ahead the next morning. Wish you a happy pilgrimage and a safe journey to Amaranth. Let us know if you have any other questions.

      1. Mayank Chauhan

        Thank You Chetan,
        Please explain me the accommodation options available at Baltal and nearby areas.

        1. There are base camps at Baltal where you will get decent accommodation in the tents. Sumos are easily available from Srinagar for Baltal. These are specially set up for the pilgrims of the Amaranth yatra. The tents are equipped with mattress, pillows and blankets- enough to keep you warm for a comfortable sleep. The rates are officially decided by the government. There are ‘bhandaras’ set up by several zorganisations which provide a wide range of foods. They do not charge for the food.

          1. Mayank Chauhan

            We have booked our yatra permit for 13th August from Baltal. As advised by you, we will be staying night before and night after the yatra in tents at Baltal base camp. I had one more query though, while we would on trek what are the facilities available to keep our luggage safe?

  83. sanjoy ghosh

    Namaskar Sandeep chetan ji . It is very useful post for me . what type of footwear is useful during amarnath yatra ? suitable latrine facility are available for ladies ?

    1. Hello Sanjoy, good trekking shoes are a must for Amarnath yatra. Both of us used these Action Trekking shoes and were very happy with them. They also have a high ankle version, if that suits you better. Also carry a couple of pairs of good quality socks. We had kept one pair of woolen socks as well, in case it got really cold or to wear at night when the temperature dips further. Another thing we highly recommend is to carry plastic bags that you can wear in your feet. We wore these inside our socks to stand on the cold stone steps to enter the Amarnath cave. The steps are extremely cold and wet from the dripping ice melt water from above. Wish you a happy pilgrimage to Amarnath.

  84. cnicholsonpaine

    We so enjoyed reading your post and looking at your beautiful photos! We are two young American women and one older British gentleman who look forward to completing the pilgrimage this July. We want to dress respectfully as we hike this sacred trail; what should we wear as women? Is it ok for us to wear pants and jackets? Does it often snow on the pilgrimage? Do you have any other suggestions for us? Thank you so much for all your valuable information!

    1. All the best for your Amarnath pilgrimage. It is perfectly fine to wear pants and jackets on this journey (in fact it is recommended). You will find a lot of Indian women dressed this way. We were lucky to get perfect weather conditions on our Amarnath yatra, but like they say about the mountains, weather can be rather unpredictable. The Indian army does an excellent job of keeping people safe on the yatra. On indications of bad weather, the yatra is halted for a day. In any case, one should be prepared for rain and cold. Snow, though not a certainty is quite likely. The extent varies every year. We hope you have done the prior registrations required, the last minute registration process can get chaotic. Let us know if you need any more information. And enjoy the pilgrimage!

      1. cnicholsonpaine

        Thank you so much for your kind reply and for all of your information! Your beautiful photos and encouraging words have made us very excited to experience this wonderful trek!

        We are planning to do the Yatra in July, so we still have some preparation time, but we would like to get as much of the registration done as early as possible. Is it possible to register for the trek online now (where?) or is it better to do it in person when we arrive?

        Thank you!

  85. Hi sandeepchetan,

    Thanks much for so much informative post!
    We 4 couples are planning yatra this year (2015) august mid, but we have max 4 days to complete and back to delhi.
    So planning to choose Baltal route, please guide how much time would it take by foot and ponnie if we take to go and come back.

    1. Hello Udit, all the best for your Amarnath yatra. The journey to Amarnath from Baltal has to be done within a day. Unlike the camping sites,there aren’t sufficient stay arrangements near the cave. So either by foot or on horsebacks, the journey to the Amarnath cave and back to Baltal is a one day event. From what we have seen, we recommend doing the journey on foot, as we felt that was the safest option.

      1. Hi Sandeepa & Chetan,

        Wanted to know whether to access the Baltal route, Sonmarg would be a better starting point right? So is Pahalgam-Amarnath Temple-Baltal- Sonmarg doable?

        1. To start the yatra from Baltal, Sonmarg (to be precise – Baltal, which is further ahead from Sonmarg. The map included here will give you a clear idea) is the official starting point.
          Pahalgam-Amarnath cave-Sonmarg is doable, which is exactly what we did, as we have mentioned here.

          1. Hi Sandeepa & Chetan,

            Thanks for the reply! I am planning on doing that route this July and then continue from Sonamarg for the Great Lakes Kashmir Trek. Hopefully, I get leaves from the office, ha! 🙂

            Also, thanks a lot for putting up such a detailed and beautifully written blog post. Cheers.

  86. I have already did once in 2013 now i am planning to go again on 04.07.14 from Delhi if any one want to join our group can contact…

  87. Buddhadeb Basu

    SandeepaChetan – I have read a lot of material on the net on Amarnath Yatra – yours is by far one of the best written – factual, anecdotal and informative. Thank you so much for sharing. I will leave for the trek in a couple of weeks and hope to have a great time.

    1. Thank you, Mr. Basu. We wish you a safe and glorious journey to Amarnath. Recommend carrying plastic bags to wear in your feet, under your socks after you take off your shoes. The rock steps at the entrance, where you will spend considerable time, are freezing cold from the dripping ice water. The plastic bags are a useful protection.

      1. Really mentionable TIPS : are very much useful to some one needy prior to any real attack causing a lot of suffering that too at very odd time ,odd place =readymade doctor’s like .THNX to Mr Chetan .

  88. Lynn Esposito

    I’d like to talk about your beautiful photo of Sheshnag Lake.
    I saw that view too…..and forever remember it.
    But when I saw it, there was a large tall glacier covering the mt. on the opposite shore.
    White snow capped and tall walls of that wonderful aqua/blue glacial silt.
    There were no horses, not that many people….only 5 of us who had decided one night to do the trek to Amarnath and taken off with a backpack and small knapsack early the next morning.
    When we settled in at Sheshnag, I left them back in the tent “village” and walked up into the hills to see this sight.
    While sitting there, a robed shape came to me thru the mist. It was a woman, dressed in ragged clothes and lots of coral and turquoise stones.
    She said “Salaam Halakum”….a Muslim.
    I answered “Halakum Salaam” ….or however you spell it.
    She slapped me on the back. b/c I knew to reverse the greeting.
    She sat beside me for a while. We couldn’t speak each other’s language, but mimed a lot, and added a few words we each knew. Then we sat quietly and listened to the glacier creak.
    You could actually hear it.
    She got up and held out her hand to me, pointing in the direction of the hills and said the name of her village, I think. She wanted me to come with her.
    One of those pivotal moments in life.
    I could have just left with her and gone off on an adventure beyond even the one I was already having.
    But caution prevailed, and I said no.
    She shook her head, we smiled and she disappeared back into the mist.
    I’ve no regrets, but sometimes still wonder what if…..
    Thank you so much for that photo. It’s as I remember it, but no glacier.
    And now woman from the mist.
    So thank you also for the memory.

    1. As always Lynn, you have enriched our experience with your comments. You talk of times when things were so very different – peaceful. I am guessing she must have been a Gujjar woman. Maybe they had set up their summer camp in the mountains around Sheshnag. Maybe she was inviting you over for a cup of tea- as everyone in Kashmir does!
      These days, there are no people around in these mountains except during the Amarnath yatra. A chance meeting like the one you had, was a possibility only of the past.
      I can imagine this meeting must have felt magical, a memory to be carried forever!
      Thank you so much for sharing this special moment with us.

      1. Rakesh Sharma

        I live in Australia and planing to go to Amarnath next year. Could you please tell me where i can book the trip ( Amarnath booking) online and if they allow kids 15 and 11 years old to do the yatara?

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