The Amarnath Pilgrimage Yatra commences from the Pahalgam base camp at Kashmir. Pilgrims going for Amarnath Cave Yatra can also snatch the opportunity to spend few memorable vacation days in exploring the beautiful valley of Kashmir and some of its popular tourist haunts. To know about the best rated places in Kashmir to visit during your Amarnath Yatra.
The Amarnath Yatra is one of the holiest pilgrimages for Hindus as it offers a unique chance to see the natural stalagmite that is formed inside the cave. The stalagmite is revered by Hindus as Shiva Linga and this Cave is supposed to hold the secret of life within it. The Amarnath Caves are situated about 141 km away from Srinagar and this is why visiting some of the top attractions around Srinagar is highly recommended during the course of the Yatra.
This is a beautiful and serene lake in Srinagar which is the capital city of Jammu and Kashmir. This is one of the most famous lakes in Kashmir and has often been referred to as “Jewel set in the crown of Kashmir” as maximum tourists make it a point to visit this lake. The Dal Lake is a very important source of commercial operations like fishing and harvesting water plants.
The shore of the lake expands to a gigantic 16 km in length and is surrounded by a boulevard. This is a part of a natural wetland which encompasses 21.1 square kilometers including the floating gardens. The gardens are filled with lotus blooms and are known as rad. The Dal Lake Wetland has 4 beautiful basins namely Gagribal, Nagin, Lokut Dal and Bod Dal. There is an island in the middle known by Rup Lank.
The Dal Lake finds a lot of mention in ancient Hindu Sanskrit texts. While it was the Mughals who actually built the boundaries of Dal Lake, the British people accentuated its beauty by commissioning the construction of beautiful houseboats on the lake. Each houseboat is actually said to represent a small slice of England. Pir Panjal mountain ranges are reflected in the lake and vendors ply stuff from souvenirs to flowers on houseboats in the lake.
The Shankaracharya Temple is also known a Pas Pahar and it lies at the top of Shankaracharya Hills or the Hills of Sulaiman in the mountain ranges of Zabarwan. This temple is dedicated to God Shiva and overlooks the capital city of Srinagar. This is one of the oldest temples in India as it dates back to 200 BC and the saint Adi Shankaracharya had actually visited this place. In the 19th century a Shiv Linga was placed here and it became known as an active Hindu Temple. All pilgrims who come to the Amarnath Yatra make it a point to visit this temple. There are more than 24 stairs that run up to the vicinity of the temple and another flight of steps that devotees have to ascend in order to reach the temple hall. Make sure that you visit the temple before 5 pm.
The Mughal Gardens are also lovingly known as Garden of Bliss and its foundations were laid down by Asif Khan who was the father of Empress Noor Jahan. This garden has 12 terraces and all of them rise from the Eastern side of the Dal Lake. However, only 9 terraces are accessible to the public now. The 2nd terrace is outstandingly beautiful with its big clumps of Persian Lilac flowers, fountains of sparkling water and beautiful pansies. There are old structures in the middle of the garden that lend an aura of grace along with Gusing fountains that fill the gardens with a joyous spirit.
Most Pilgrims who come on the Amarnath Yatra make a small detour to visit the beautiful Sonmarg or the Valley of Gold present in the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir. The enchanting natural beauty of Sonmarg is nurtured by the Sindh River and is offset by luscious forests of sycamore, fir, pine and silver birch. Nature lovers find solace in pristine blue water and meadows of alpine blooms here. From Sonmarg you can also visit Niagrad as it has pure red water which is believed to cure many skin diseases.
If you are on the Amarnath Yatra then the chance to visit the exotic Sheshnag Lake will come right at the flag end of your journey to Amarnath. This is an alpine lake which is high altitude and oligotrophic. It lies in the track leading to Amarnath from Pahalgam in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Sheshnag actually means the king of snakes and according to mythology the lake was dug by Sheshnag himself. The lake is now nurtured by the streams which flow down from the mountain. The caves of Amarnath are situated 20 km to the north of this lake. It is possible to reach this lake from Chandanwari from where ponies can carry you to the lake after a trek of 7 km up the slope.