Amarnath Cave is a much revered pilgrimage destination dedicated to Lord Shiva also known as Amarnath Ji. Lord Amarnath is enshrined in this cave shrine in the form of a naturally formed ice stalagmite. Along with that of Lord Shiva’s, there are two other smaller ice lingams; one of Goddess Parvati and another of their son- Lord Ganesha.
The Amarnath Gufa is perched at an altitude of 4175 meters above the sea level and is located in the midst of the snowcapped peaks of the Kashmir Himalayas. As per common folklore, it is in this very cave that Lord Amarnath revealed to Goddess Parvati the secret of his immortality…that gives Lord Shiva the name of Amarnath and the cave the name of Amarnath Gufa. If you are planning to embark on the Amarnath yatra this yatra season, then you must know that apart from the Amarnath shrine there are many other good places to visit around the Amarnath cave. A good tour operator will often take you on a tour of all these places apart from just the cave shrine of Amarnath.
Availing an Amarnath Yatra Package from one such tour operator will let you get a very fulfilling tour experience…here are the top 10 places you could visit during the Amarnath yatra…Read on to learn:
01. Tarsar Lake
This almond shaped, oligotrophic alpine lake is located amid the Aru valley and is quite favorite among the passionate trekkers. The lakeside offers breathtaking views of surrounding snowy peaks. The lakeside features a quiet, tranquil environ that calms the mind. Visit this exquisite lake to experience some scenically rewarding moments.
The scenic Lidderwat valley is located at about 17 kms from the hill town of Pahalgam. The valley has magnificent snowy mountains at its backdrop. It is a sprawling lush green vale with a serene ambiance that brings solace to the mind. It is an apt camping ground for the Amarnath Yatra pilgrims.
03. Aru Valley
This stunning lush green meadow vale falls at a distance of 12kms from the hill town of Pahalgam. The alluring scenery of the valley attracts tourists and nature lovers to this valley from far and wide. The beauty of this valley is characterized by the dense alpine woods, snowcapped majestic mountains and gurgling streams. Many movies have been shot in this beautiful valley. Taking a stroll across this valley is a mesmerizing experience that you would cherish lifelong.
04. Sheshnag Lake
This lake has its association with fascinating folklore and is steeped in deep spiritual importance. It is an amazingly beautiful turquoise hued mountain lake cradled at an altitude of 3658 meters above sea level. Until the month of June, the lake happens to be a frozen lake and beyond June, with the melting of the snow, it turns in a turquoise blue lake. As per myths, Lord Shiva or Amarnath ji left his serpent in this lake before making his way to the Amarnath cave and the lake waters turned blue due to the venom of the snake. Interestingly the seven towering peaks around the cave resemble the 7 hoods of the mythical serpent; Sheshnag and the lake Gets its name from this mythical serpent.
05. Kokernag Botanical Garden
This beautiful botanical garden sprawls across an area of about 26 hectares and presents you with a vast assortment of exotic flora. This botanical garden was founded in 1969. The botanical garden comes with some very modern features and attributes such as live garden seats, Japanese arched bridges over streams and artificial ponds, topiary work, rosary, specially treated grounds for growing wild flowers, bushes and ornamental trees and plants of the region. Apart from being an amazing botanical garden this is also a great pleasure spot. Thus, you’ll really enjoy strolling around the garden.
06. Aishmuqam Shrine
This famed hill top Dargah is located at a distance of 40kms from Pahalgam. This Dargah has a beautiful architecture and features as many as 560 steps at its entrance. The shrine has been built in honor of the renowned Sufi saint; Baba Zain-ud-din-wali. For the Muslims of Kashmir this is a much revered shrine. On Fridays of every week this shrine witnesses record crowd.
07. Zoji La Pass
This famed mountain pass lies on NH 1D- a highway connecting Srinagar and Leh. The pass is cradled at an elevation of 3528 meters above sea level. If you wish to visit zoji la pass, you need to make sure that the driver who has the steering in his hands is a seasoned driver. This is because the roads that lead you towards zoji la pass are pretty dangerous. The pass offers one with mesmerizing views of high snow crested Himalayan peaks. A 4 hrs drive from the hill town of Pahalgam can take you to Zoji La Pass.
08. Baltal Wildlife Sanctuary
This wildlife sanctuary is situated in the Ganderbal district of Jammu and Kashmir and sprawls across an area of about 0.3.00 sq km. It came into being in the year 1987. Its rich biodiversity makes it a worthy habitat for scores of exotic Himalayan wild animals. The sanctuary indeed turns out to be a veritable treat for the wildlife enthusiasts.
09. Baltal Valley
This picturesque vale with a serene ambiance lies at the base of the famous zoji la pass and is 14kms away from Sonamarg; the famed tourist hub of Kashmir. It is laid out along the banks of the meandering Sindhi River. The undulating terrain of this valley is adorned with verdant green meadows and surrounding snowcapped peaks. This valley serves as the base camp of a shorter alternate route of 9.6kms to the holy cave of Amarnath.
10. Kolahoi Glacier
This valley glacier located at a distance of about 26 kms from Pahalgam is considered extremely holy by the locals of the region. They call it the ‘Goddess of Light’. The glacier is the perennial water source for the two rivers; Lidder and Jhelum. The glacier lies at the base of the majestic Kolahoi Peak. The wonderful glaciated valley is adorned with green meadows and crystal care rivulets.