Pahalgam

Pahalgam (Hindustani pronunciation: [pɛhɛlɡaːm]), known as Pahalgom (Kashmiri pronunciation: [pəhəlʲɡoːm]; lit. ’village of shepherds’) in Kashmiri, is a town and a notified area committee in Anantnag district of the Indian union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. It is a popular tourist destination and hill station. Its lush green meadows and pristine waters attract thousands of tourists from all over the world each year. It is located 45 kilometers (28 mi) from Anantnag on the banks of the Lidder River at an altitude of 7,200 feet (2,200 m). Pahalgam is the headquarters of one of the five tehsils of the Anantnag district.

Pahalgam is associated with the annual pilgrimage to the shrine Amarnath Yatra. Chandanwari, located 16 kilometers (9.9 mi) from Pahalgam. The town is the starting point of the yatra that takes place every year in the months of July–August, receiving hundreds of thousands of tourists. Because of its religious significance and role as a base camp, the town attracts 70% of visitors to the valley. This flood of tourists overwhelms some of the local infrastructure, especially waste management in the town.

Demographics
As of 2011 India census, Pahalgam had a population of 5922. Males constitute 56% of the population and females 44%. The average literacy rate is 35%, lower than the Indian national average of 59.5% with male literacy at 49% and female literacy at 17%. About 14% of the population is under 6 years of age.

Administration
Pahalgam is administered by the Pahalgam Development Authority, headed by a Chief Executive Officer who functions as the administrator of the local town area committee.

Tourism
The town has 3,510 rooms with 7,020 beds for tourists.

Amarnath Temple
Main article: Amarnath Temple
Amarnath cave is a Hindu shrine located in Pahalgam. The cave is situated at an altitude of 3,888 m (12,756 ft).

Kolhoi Glacier
Main article: Kolhoi Glacier
Kolohoi Glacier, situated up the Lidder Valley, just below Kolhoi Peak is currently a hanging glacier. It is accessible from Pahalgam via Aru and is known to have extended for at least 35 kilometers (22 mi). According to the mountaineers from Jawahar Institute of Mountaineering, in 2008, the glacier receded by half since 1985 and it is not safe to study because it is hollow and has 200-foot-deep (61 m) crevices.

Betaab Valley
Main article: Betaab Valley
Betaab Valley is a valley located 15 kilometers (9.3 mi) from Pahalgam. The valley got its name from a Bollywood movie Betaab that was shot here.

Baisaran Valley
Baisaran Valley, barely 5 kilometers from Pahalgam in Kashmir’s Anantnag district, is a popular tourist attraction that has been dubbed “mini-Switzerland” due to its scenic splendor. It’s a verdant meadow on a mountaintop flanked by snowcapped mountains and studded with thick pine woods.[14] The optimum time to go to Baisaran is determined by the type of experience you wish to have. From January through March is the best time to visit if you want to experience the snow. Visit there during April and June to appreciate the foliage and lovely weather.

Religious significance
Pahalgam is one of the most important sites for Hindus. Amarnath cave situated at 3,888 m (12,756 ft) is an important Hindu shrine located in Pahalgam.

Mythology
Lord Shiva is believed to impart the secret of immortality (Amrit Vachan) to Parvati in Pahalgam. Before entering Amarnath cave Shiv left Nandi in Pahalgam, moon in Chandanwari, snakes in Sheshnag Lake, Ganesha on Mahaguna Parbat, five elements at Panchtarni.

Environmental issues
Annual tourist flow to the town produces much more waste than locals, overwhelming the local solid waste management system, and leading to dumping of waste throughout the town. 74% of the total municipal waste comes from the tourism sector. This waste issue increase waterborne disease downstream and other health issues, as well as polluting the local landscape