My 12th Amarnath Yatra – Trip Report and Pictures , Part 1

January 04, 2013 By:

Want to share my experience of Amarnath Yatra 2012 (24th June to 29th June 2012) with all.This is my first detailed write up for any journey.

This was my 12th Amarnath Yatra. First time I went in the year 1998 in Yatra Bus organized by some religious organization and then regularly every year since 2002.Usually I travel with a group of 7-8 friends and approximately half of them changes every year. Generally we hire the Taxi (Innova/ Tavera) from our home station (Ambala Cantt) for the whole tour. It takes us 6-7 days to complete the tour in Taxi. Hiring taxi for the whole tour is very comfortable, but more expansive.
As soon as the News of Yatra starts, I started planning for Amarnath Yatra with my friends. So, first of all we fixed the date of 24 June to start the journey as we wanted to have Darshan in the first week itself and when the registration starts in first week of May I arranged 5 registration form from J&K Bank for 26th June 2012.Two registrations were taken Online for the same date. Advantage of the registration form taken from the Bank is that you get blank form which can be filled later by the finalized members but for online; you have to fill complete details of Yatri on the time of registration itself. Now it was the time to finalize the persons for Yatra and the problem started here. Total 9-10 people became ready for this year Yatra; some were interested via Baltal route and others from Pahalgam route and it was not possible for all to travel in one Taxi (Innova/ Tavera). We were unable to reach an amicable end.So, I quit the group with one of my friend and permanent companion, Sushil Malhotra (it was his 10th Yatra and 8th with me) and decided to go via train. My friend gets ready for this new experience. So we finalized to catch the Sarvodya Express from Ambala which departs from Ambala at 8:00 AM and reaches Jammu Tawi at 2:45 PM. Time was too short to get confirm seats and we left all on Lord Shiva and decided to go in General compartment with “Jo hoga dekha jayega” attitude. So finally the date of 24th June came.

Chinab river in route

Chinab river in route



Day1:

I get up early in the morning and asked my wife to prepare and pack lunch for two persons .Bag was already packed at night. I left home at 7AM. My friend had already reached Railway station before me and has bought the Train tickets. Train was running on time and we were mentally prepared for heavy rush in General compartment. The train arrived on time and we rushed to the General compartment. To our surprise there was no rush in the train and we got seats near window in just few minutes. We were relieved that now there is no tension till Jammu. The train departed on time. There are only three stoppages for this train for 400 KM journey. These are Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Chakki Bank. The train reached at JammuTawi Railway station at 3PM.After taking launch we searched for the auto/ Mini Van to reach Yatri Niwas at Bhagwati Nagar (Base camp for Amarnath Yatra). I have already searched the location of Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas on Google earth, so the location was in my mind. (In case you don’t get the direct conveyance from railway station for Yatri Niwas, there is second option; go to bus stand and from Jewel Chowk you can find multiple options for Yatri Niwas.) We found a mini bus which was going to Bhagwati Nagar Yatri Niwas directly. I ask the fare from bus conductor and he replied that the fare is Rs. 30 per head, I offer him Rs 50 for two people and he became ready and ask us to take seats. Bus was filled with Amarnath Yatris in few minutes. In the Bus I came to know that he was charging Rs.20 per person from other people. Any way in just 15 minutes we reached at Bhagwati Nagar.

Yatri Niwas (Base Camp for Amarnath Yatra) at Bhagwati Nagar.

Yatri Niwas (Base Camp for Amarnath Yatra) at Bhagwati Nagar.

Myself posing at Yatri Niwas

Myself posing at Yatri Niwas

My friend Sushil Malhotra

My friend Sushil Malhotra

Bus Fare Chart

Bus Fare Chart

Yatri Niwas

Yatri Niwas

There was fool proof security at Bhagwati Nagar base camp. All bags and luggage were checked three times manually and one time by X-ray machine before entering the Yatri Niwas. Our registrations were also checked. JKSRTC has opened one counter at Yatri Niwas from where peoples were buying bus tickets for Pahalgam and Baltal route for next day morning journey. Tickets were being issued only after checking the registration cards and valid Yatra dates. We also bought two tickets for Baltal route. Person at ticket counter told us to take our seats in Bus before 3:30 AM.There was a huge rush of pilgrims in the Yatri Niwas. All basic facilities were available in the Yatri Niwas for pilgrims. Peoples were coming continuously at Yatri Niwas and rush was increasing. After buying tickets, we were roaming here and there, carrying our bags with us. Due to our bags we were not feeling comfortable. We found no locker facility at Yatri Niwas. We came out of the Yatri Niwas, to roam in the adjoining market. One person came to us and asked, if we want a room for Night. We decided to book a room so to get rid of our bags and roam freely. Another reason to book a room was to sleep peacefully at night. Actually resident of nearby colony offer their rooms to yatris at reasonable price. We checked the room. There was air cooler in the room so we booked the room for one night. We left our bags there and went to the market. After taking dinner at Bhandara (Community Kitchen) we returned to room at 9 PM. Around 11 PM we got sleep.

Day2:

We wake up at 3 AM and left the room. Room was approximate 300 meters away from Yatri Niwas. After brushing teeth, we took tea and Rusk from Bhandara. Then we searched the Bus no. 3 in which we were allotted seats. We were the last persons to enter the Bus. Many buses and private vehicles were standing there and were waiting for start of convoy. After long wait, Convoy started at 5:15 PM. Convoy is headed by an army vehicle called pilot vehicle.5-6 more army vehicles were with the convoy. Around 9.30 AM convoy stopped near Kud for breakfast at one Bhandara .After taking breakfast our bus again started.

Breakfast venue

Breakfast venue

All the buses of convoy were running at slow speed. They are safest for hilly journey but take too much extra time. First 200 KM, from Jammu to Srinagar, is totally hilly area and the next 100KM (Kazikund to Srinagar) is totally plane area. Normally the taxies cover the distance of 300 KM between Jammu and Srinagar in 9-10 hrs. Our bus took complete 12hrs to reach Srinagar.

helping stream of chinab

helping stream of chinab

Chinab river in route

Chinab river in route

Our bus was stopped by one police party at Srinagar and asks to go back as there was some stone pelting incidence on the road. Later we came to know that some fire was broken out at some old Sufi Dargah due to which local persons were creating disturbances in the area. All buses returned 15 Km and took the Gulmarg Bypass road. All this exercise wasted one hour. I was sure that we will not reach Baltal in the evening because we were too late to cross Manigam Camp .Generally all the Yatra vehicles moving towards Baltal are stopped at Manigam Yatra camp after 5 PM. Manigam lies in Ganderbal district and 35 Km away from Srinagar. As feared our buses were stopped at Manigam camp. A lot of vehicles were already parked there. Our bus driver told us that the buses will leave for Baltal next morning at 6.30 AM. There were lots of tents available for night rest. 3-4 Bhandaras were also there for food and snacks. We took our bags and book one tent @100 per head. Then after taking dinner at Bandara we came to our tent for sleep.

Manigoun base camp

Manigoun base camp

Day 3:
We get up early at 5:30 AM and completed daily routines. Then we decided to take bath so that we may get ready for tracking after 2-3 HRS. The water was very chilled but we braved to take bath. Then we changed the clothes and wear the woolens. After taking tea and biscuits we rushed to our Bus. Announcements were already being made on PA system that convoy is ready to move, took your seats in vehicles. Convoy started at 7AM but there was heavy rush on the road and there were frequent traffic jams. It took us 4hrs to cover the next 60 Kms.

Sind River

Sind River

Traffic Jam

Traffic Jam

mountain stream

mountain stream

Sonamarg

Sonamarg

Sonamarg

Sonamarg

Bus parking before Baltal

Bus parking before Baltal

Around 1 km before Baltal, there was a security check post where every person and his belongings were checked thoroughly. Due to this check post there was a long traffic jam around 1.5 km long. We decided to walk up to check post because vehicles were not moving at all. After we came down from the bus all passengers from the bus followed us and started walking towards check post. We reached the check post and after checking we continued to walk and did not wait for the bus. After walking 1 more KM we reached at Baltal. There was one another check post at Baltal and we were again thoroughly checked. After checking we decided to start the tracking without wasting any time. It was 12.15 AM.

Valley view

Valley view

one more glacier

one more glacier

one glacier in route

one glacier in route

Pilgrims on the way

Pilgrims on the way

After half an hour we reached at Domel point. Domel is 2 Km away from Baltal bus stand where the CRPF has put a barrier. Barrier was closed and no one was allowed to proceed for Yatra. Around 100 odd peoples gathered at Domel barrier and were requesting them to let them go. After 15 minutes of persuasion CRPF personnel allowed us to proceed. We went to Barfani Sewa Mandal Bhandara, which is after barrier. We are associated with this Bhandara for last 13 years and are members of this. We took only raincoats and woolens with us in rucksack and left all other belongings in bag at the Bhandara. From this point (Domel), Holy cave is about 12 KM. the mountain track started from here. Snow and Glaciers were available besides the track. There are some steep rises & falls on the way, as compared to the Chandanwari route. Pilgrims can return back to base camp Baltal through this route only in one day if tracking can be started early in the morning.

After continued tracking we reached Barari at 4 PM and after taking rest for 15 minutes we again started tracking. There was a big Jam at one place due to a very narrow passage on one Glacier in route.
1K.M. after Barari, there are two way to reach the cave. First one is the old and is used by both pilgrims as well as by the mules. It is broad and safe but lengthy. Second one is new, shortcut, very narrow, steep ascend and descend and not used by mule but only by few pilgrims. We took the new short cut after Barari which bypass the Sangam Velly and reaches directly to Cave. Around 7 PM we reached the camps, which are situated 1 KM before the Holy cave. We were so tired that we booked one tent @ Rs200 per person for one night.

Horse stand before cave

Horse stand before cave

Sangam valley

Sangam valley

Sangam valley and zig zag way

Sangam valley and zig zag way

Darshan at Holy cave are stopped at 7PM due to aarti. Darshan are open again in the morning after 7 AM. SO this was rest time for Lord Shiva and for us also. Atmosphere was very cold and temperature was near freezing point. We took the quilts and laid down for sleep. It was very cold and I started shivering under single quilt so we decided to join our quilts. We were so tired that we could not go for dinner available at one Bhandara just 50 mts away. We both took Combiflame and slept.

About Naresh Sehgal

has written 36 posts at Ghumakkar.

Belongs to Ambala (Haryana). Working as Sr. Engineer in a Telecom company . Traveling, Music,Himalayas and reading travel blogs are my passion.Being a GOD loving, I love to visit the places having religious and historical significance. With God Grace, regular traveler to Sh Amarnath Ji Shrine since 2002 and frequent traveler to Maa Vaishno Devi Shrine.

27 Responses to “My 12th Amarnath Yatra – Trip Report and Pictures , Part 1”


  1. Praveen Wadhwa says:

    Great entry and a great travelogue. Very informative and useful post supported by good and appropriate pictures.

    I wish one day I will take this journey but problem is that it has a very short span of season.

    • Naresh Sehgal says:

      Thanks Wadhwa Sir,
      Actually,indirectly, it is because of you that I am on the Ghumakkar. once I was searching at Google on Garhwal and I got your link on Ghumakkar, which was your popular story on Shilajit and Kedar Nath Yatra. I was glued to this story and started waiting for next installments. I got register myself on Ghumakkar to comment. Then I read more stories written by Mukesh Bhalse, Vishal Rathod , Sandeep Jat,manu prakash tyagi, Vishal Rathode,Vipin, toddler ved etc. etc.It became daily routine for me to read travel stories at Ghumakkar. it inspired me to write my own blog and I am here.
      I am very much pleased to got the first comment from that person who is a great author and true Ghumakkar and inspired me to be on Ghumakkar .
      thanks Sir..

  2. Mukesh Bhalse says:

    Naresh,
    A warm welcome to ghumakkar family. Your entry to ghumakkar is really “Dhamakedaar”. The narration as well as pictures were breathtaking. Waiting for the next post…………..

    • Naresh Sehgal says:

      Mukesh Ji..
      Thanks for your encouraging words…when i did this yatra, have never thought that it will be written and published. I took photographs randomly and all but two photographs are taken by mobile camera. Thanks again for liking..

  3. Mukesh Bhalse says:

    Oh, one thing i forgot to ask…. How was your recent trip to MP (Ujjain & Omkareshwar). Did you cover Dewas and Maheshwar? When you are going to post them on Ghumakkar?

    Thanks.

    • Naresh Sehgal says:

      I had plan to leave with my one friend for Ujjain & Omkareshwar Yatra at 15.30 PM on 20/12/2012. All of sudden that friend’s mother got ill on 20/12/2012 and taken to Hospital where she expired at 12.00 Noon. We had have no option except cancelling the tour.

      लगता है भोले नाथ नाराज हैं इसीलिए उन्होंने आने नहीं दिया..

  4. Hi Naresh ,

    Warm Warm Welcome to Ghumakkar that too with Amarnath Yatra. First of all I bow down to a adherent devotee of Lord Shiva, who has performed Amarnath yatra 12 times. You are really blessed and loved by Lord Shiva because it is only and only Lord Shiva who calls his devotees here , No one can come here unless he calls. He only helps to perform yatra and takes care of his devotees during the yatra.

    Coming to post, it was wonderfully written and pictures are really beautiful . Narration was so engrossing that I started to read stopped all my work till it was finished . As an opener it is a mind blowing and blissful post.

    I am eagerly waiting for next one where I can have cave darshan from your pictures.

    I had performed this yatra with my family this year 2012 via Pahalgam route and for me this is ” YATRA OF LIFE” . Once performed I want to do again and again.

    To write this yatra along with Amritsar and Vaishno Devi , It took me 19 posts , more than 50000 words and
    407 pictures . If you wish to read click the link of the first post below. The links of the remaining posts you will get in the index before as well as in the end of the each post.

    http://www.ghumakkar.com/2012/08/10/mighty-journey-to-almighty-one-example-on-how-lord-calls-his-devotees/

  5. Naresh Sehgal says:

    Thanks Vishal Ji..
    Fully agreed with you that it is only and only Lord Shiva who calls his devotees here , No one can come here unless he calls. He only helps to perform yatra and takes care of his devotees during the yatra.
    pleased to know that you have also performed the yatra in 2012. I will surely read your story but as you have said it has 19 post, will take some time.
    Pahalgam route is more scenic than Baltal route .I had performed 5 yatra from this route. Last time I track this route in 2010.May be some time I write that journey also..
    Jai Bhole ki..

  6. D.L.Narayan says:

    Warm welcome to the ghumakkar family, Naresh. It is a once in a lifetime experience most can only dream of and performing it a dozen times is a miracle! We are privileged to have you here and learn from your experiences. Though it is a debut post, you have written with skill and assurance of a veteran. The text and pictures are excellent. Looking forward to more contributions from you. Jai Bholenath.

    • Naresh Sehgal says:

      Thanks Narayan Sir,
      Thanks for encouragement..
      I am still learning from experiences of other…and as a responsible member on Ghumakkar family, I will contribute more..

  7. bhupendra singh raghuwanshi says:

    नरेश जी
    बहुत ही शानदार यात्रा वर्णन
    भगवन अमरनाथ को प्रणाम के साथ आपका इस परिवार में हार्दिक स्वागत
    आप उज्जैन नहीं जा पाए कोई बात नहीं मे उज्जैन के पास नागदा जो की उज्जैन से ५५ की मी दूर है में रहता हूँ आपको जनवारी से मार्च के बिच उज्जैन में आमत्रित करता हूँ आप इन महीनों में कभी भी आ सकते है यहाँ का तापमान मार्च तक बहुत बढ़िया रहता है.
    my email address : [email protected]

    bhupendra

    • Naresh Sehgal says:

      Thanks bhupendra ji..
      Sure.. i am re planing the tour to Ujjain & Omkareshwar .
      बाकि जैसी भोले नाथ की इच्छा…

  8. SilentSoul says:

    Welcome to Ghumakkar.. first log is fantastic. Hope yo u continue sharing your travels with us

  9. Vipin says:

    A warm welcome to Ghumakkar family & congratulations on your first post, Naresh Ji. What a lovely post to start with! You guys are so lucky that you’ve done this yaatra so many times, kudos to you! Nice narrative and pictures too are pretty good…let’s see when Bhole baba calls us to this lovely place…

    • Naresh Sehgal says:

      Thanks Vipin ji..
      It is due to you people I am here. reason behind the regular travel to Amarnath Shrine is Extenal force which pulls me towards that place every year. I have felt this many times.
      You too will get call from Bhole baba very soon.May be it in 2013..Be ready..
      Jai Bhole Ki..

  10. Abheeruchi says:

    Welcome to Ghumakkar.

    Very nice description and beautiful pics.

    You are really fortunate that it was ur 12th visit.

    Waiting for continuation story

    Keep travelling,keep writing.

  11. Nandan Jha says:

    Welcome aboard Naresh.

    A very honest and engaging log on your travel. Being someone who has done this 12 times, it is a privilege for Ghumakkar to have you. I am sure this log and through other means your experience is going to be tremendously useful for people planning a visit.

    For some reason, the profile pic is not visible. Please try once more by uploading a different picture. Now I go to next part. Warm wishes.

    • Thanks Nandan Sir,
      A few encouragement words from the people like you inspired me a lot to write more travelogues .
      Next I have started to narrate the journey of Sh. KedarNath Ji..Badrinath ji and Hekunt Sahib ji..
      I will submit the first part of this to you shortly..
      and have changed the profile picture and its visible now..
      Thanks a lot…

  12. Dear Naresh Sehgal,

    Welcome at Ghumakkar. Your description of your journey would be immensely useful for all of those who aspire to undertake this pilgrimage but are afraid of the unknown. You have provided stitch-by-stitch account of the operation and have even provided very appropriate pics to support what you are telling. You have all the characteristics of a great ghumakkar which is already obvious from the fact that it was your 12th pilgrimage to Amarnath Ji.

    Please keep writing and keep sharing.

  13. SLN RAJU says:

    hi.. this is very useful.. and i am eagerly waiting to visit amarnath this year.. can u please suggest me the requried things to pack up for this yatra..and where can i get them for reasonable prices. lik e trekking shoes, water proof bags and woollen colthes. i want to go from pahalgam route.

  14. dnyanesh katruwar says:

    HI NARESHJI. you have given a very good details of your journey and photos are also quite informative. i am from maharatra. me and my 2 nephews have planned a trip to amarnathji in month of july. we have done all our ticketing as well. we r going to udhampur from delhi via train. so plz tell, how to get a bus from udhampur to pahalgam. and how to register online for the yatra. is online registration possible or we have to register at banks only ?? we have booked the pawan hans helicopter tickets for pahalgam-panjtarni-pahalgam. coz we can not trek so long. plz reply

    • Dear Dnyanesh ,
      Thanks for liking it.
      Answar to your query :
      1. No online registration this year. Contact authorized Bank for registration.
      2. Medical Certificate from Distrcit Medical officer (Civil Hospital) is required for all yatris.
      3. It will be very difficult to have bus from Udhampur. Drop at Jammu, go to Yatri Niwas and book you Bus tickets to go Pahalgam .

  15. Ritwika Dey says:

    Sir its really helpful information. I am going to visit AMARNATH JI after one week. Hope in my trip your blogs will help me to cope up with ever changing & ever exciting SHRI AMARNATH JI trek a lot. I am starting to walk from Chandamwari on 29.06.2014, the 2nd day of yatra. Here I have a question. Sir please give me some information about CHHARI MUBARAK. Am I capable to see this during my journey as I am starting my trek on 2nd day of yatra but I will present in Pahalgam on 28.06.2014, the first day of AMARNATH JI Yatra, 2014?

  16. Naresh Sehgal says:

    Dear Ritiwika,
    CHHARI MUBARAK leaves for Amarnath shrine from Srinagar in last week of Yatra. This year it will start on 5th or 6th August.
    On the way to Amarnath, the Chhari lodges in various destinations on the route from Pahalgam to Shashnag to Panchtarini to Amarnath. On Raksha Bandahan, it stays at Amarnath Cave, where Chhari pooja is performed. This holy Chhari is then brought back to Pahalgam, and is immersed into the water of Lidder River. The people who take Pahalgam route for Amarnath Cave can complete their journey along this holy mace.
    As you are going in first week you will not be able to see this.



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