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A trip to Amarnath – Jammu and Kashmir

The Cave Shrine in Amarnath, about 95km from Srinagar, attracted more than six lakh devotees this year. The yatra concluded on August 13, Raksha Bandhan Day. The base camp for the yatra is at Pahalgam, 46km away. There are facilities for tourists to stay, eat and relax before the four-day trek up. Enroute, there are stopovers at Chandanwari, Sheshnag and Panchtami. Sick or disabled people are carried on palanquins to visit the cave. The trek is tedious and hazardous – fatalities are not uncommon.

The cave is located at 13,000ft, and people have to climb the Mahaguns at 14,500ft and then walk the trail down to reach the sacred site. For those who can afford the trip, they can travel by helicopter from Pahalgam to Amarnath. Lasting up to a month and a half, the yatra is jointly organized by the Shree Amarnath Yatra Trust and the state government. Devotees receive the best treatment – good supply of water, electricity, provision of ponies, firewood, and setting up of shops and stalls. The Hindu pilgrims also receive hospitality from the Muslim population in the areas on the route.