A Trekkers/ pilgrims Diary of visit to the Holy Amarnath Cave
Day 1 July
10th , 2003 Thursday
The Scenery enroute was breathtaking , beautiful driving through villages and countryside , every 1 kms or so there was presence of Army , BSF and J&K Police on lookout for terrorist or miscreants who try to disrupt the holy journey and create panic , confusion and communal hatred on the direction of our peaceful neighbors ( they want piece , just a piece of India's beauty , Kashmir ) . We crossed many flowing rivers with unmelted ice on them , glaciers and reached Sonmarg another tourist attraction place specially in winters famous for skiing . Finally at around 5 p.m. we reached Baltal and checked into, the BSF Base camp 40th Battalion under the Commandant Harish Chand .
We were lucky to be allocated the tent with only 20 beds and which had sleeping bags . In the evening we went for a small walk , had our early dinner at the Shiv Shakti Bhandara ( wow what tasty meal ) and retired early at around 8.30 p.m. . By the way , we thought we retired early but was a difficult sleeping with people coming in and out , talking , and me a light sleeper was keeping a watch on our luggage , while Ajay was sleeping with ease .
Day 2 July 11th , 2003 Friday
We were forced to get up at 4.00 a.m. as everyone in the base cam had woken up to get fresh , we the lucky ones had to share the toilet with just 20 other guys , hence you can understand why getting up at 4.00 a.m. was indeed necessary . Well somehow managed to get ready and leave the base camp by 5.30 a.m. . Stood near the entry and waited to fix a Pony to take our bags to the Holy Cave . The deal got fixed at Rs. 600/- and after saying " Jai Bhole nath " " Jai Shivji Maharaj " we started our journey towards the holy cave .
The scenery enroute was breathtaking , passing through glaciers , water flowing under the unmelted snow , greenery , wild goats , the devotion of the people in short just look at these pictures and am sure that you will also soon plan your journey .
The path was easy than we had anticipated , but being physically fit had its advantages and the going was smooth . We reached Sangam at around 10.00 a.m. and there is when we saw the first tough , very tough trek , a staright climb of nearly 2-3 kms , wow this was tough going 10 steps resting and then doing 5 more and resting , at nearly 14000 ft the oxygen level is also less and body had not got adjusted to intake of less oxygen . By this time the legs also start aching a bit is you rest long and to get warm up gain takes a bit of time.
We reached the Holy cave at 12.10 p.m. and seeing the boldness of other pilgrims Ajay decided to take a dip in the ice cold freezing water ( not advisable at all by expert doctors ) , well I decided to opt out and only washed my hands and feet .
After many tugs , pulls , pushes , stampede , lathi charge etc.. had a nice darshan of the Shivjis divine form in the form of the natural Lingam . Standing in the line with no shoes makes your feet first numb then there is no pain or coldness that you can feel . Special note , pls take care of your shoes as we saw many pilgrims loosing their shoes to thieves at this holy place .
After the darshan we arranged for horse change to take us to Cahndanwari by staying overnight at Panchtarni which was 6 kms away . The deal got fixed with Bashir Ali at Rs. 1200/- and we left for Panchtarni camp .
We reached the BSF camp at Panchtarni at 4.20 p.m. and once again got lucky and were alloted the VIP tents which accommodates 4 people with a bathroom to share . Lucky once more that only we two stayed in the tent , resting our tired bodies after traveling 21 kms .
Day 3 July 12th , 2003 Saturday
After a cup of tea and biscuits at Panchtarni Langar we departed at 7.00 a.m. for another hectic day of the trek . Wow once again what a scenery and landscape , till Bhoj Patra the trek was nice and easy and after that tough again the climb to Mahagunnas top and Shesh Nag and therafter downhill all the way . We reached Sheshnag at 12.00 p.m. and then it started to pour heavy rains with slush , slippery tracks , lots of mud , soaked , drenched and gradually enjoying the rains we recahed Chandanwari at 4.00 p.m. covering 28 glorious kms , with breathtaking spectacular view of the Himalayas where once the lord Shiva had walked .
From Chandanwari after saying bye to our Pony escort , we took a taxi shared with 10 other people for Pahalgam which was 16 kms away . We were all wet and soaked and at 5.30 p.m. checked into the hotel Woodstock at tariff Rs. 1400/- for the night .
Day 4 & 5 July 13th & 14th , 2003 Sunday & Monday
Next day after a good nights sleep and lavish dinner at the local dhaba , we got up fairly relaxed with minor pains here and there . After breakfast we took a taxi to Srinagar which was 96 kms away . The scenery enroute was again classic , breathtaking and spectacular , reached Srinagar at around 1.20 pm and checked into a houseboat having 2 rooms " New Moon of Kashmir " , tariff for 2 days fixed at Rs. 2500/- including breakfast and Dinner . After washing up and relaxing we went for a local sight seeing of Srinagar , Dal Lake , Shankaracharya Mandir , Shalimar bagh ( disappointing ) , Nishat Bagh ( More dissapointing ) and Chashma Shahi ( most dissapointing ) , we thought we have seen enough of Srinagar and planned to retire early . It was a good experience staying in the house boat , with rides of the shikhara , and what lovely interiors WOW ., ethnic Indian touch .
Next day we thought of lazing around , but as we had got used to getting up early , it became boring staying doing nothing in the house boat . So we decided to visit another place called GULMARG on the recommendation of our house boat owner Ali Sheikh . The taxi journey of 50 kms not that exciting but on reaching Tanmarg , we realised that if we had not come here , we would have missed something . Gulmarg is a MUST visit spot for anyone going to Kashmir . It is situated on hills with huge meadows ideal ski slopes during winter and lovely scenery and ski lifts . And if you are here try the Parathas of Fazal , classic , different and tasty . We trekked , enjoyed the view , relaxed and saw the golfing greens , was tempted to play but .... you know .
In the end thanks to Bholenathji for the lovely invitation he had given us to visit his place and see the beauty of the creations .
JAI BHOLE NATH KI