A trip to Amarnath temple.
Amarnath temple.

A trip to Amarnath temple.

A trip to Amarnath temple.

Amarnath cave is a Hindu shrine located in Jammu and Kashmir, India. It is dedicated to  Lord Shiva. The cave is situated at an altitude of 3,888 m (12,756 ft) which is about 141 km from Srinagar, the capital of Jammu and Kashmir and it could be reached through Pahalgam town.

The shrine forms an important part of Hinduism, and is considered to be one of the holiest shrines in Hinduism. The cave is surrounded by snowy mountains. The cave itself is covered with snow most of the year except for a short period of time in summer when it is open for pilgrims. Thousands of Hindu devotees go to an annual pilgrimage to the Amarnath cave on tough mountainous terrain to worship the lord inside the cave.

Inside the 40 m (130 ft) high Amarnath cave, the stalagmite is formed due to freezing of water drops that fall from the roof of the cave on to the floor and grows up vertically from the cave floor. It is considered to be a Shiva Linga by Hindus. The Cave waxes during May to August, because of the melting of snow in the Himalayas above the cave and the remaining water flows into the rocks that form the cave and gradually disappear after that.

As per the religious beliefs, it has been claimed that the lingam grows and shrinks with the phases of the moon reaching its height during the summer festival. According to a Hindu legend, this is the cave where Shiva explained the secret of life and eternity to his divine companion, Parvati. There are two more ice formations which represent Parvati and Shiva’s son, Ganesha.

The main purpose of the annual pilgrimage to the cave is worship of the ice stalagmite Lingam.The beginning of the annual pilgrimage, called Amarnath Yatra is decided by ‘pratham pujan’ to invoke the blessings of Shri Amarnathji. Devotees travel on foot, either from Srinagar or from Pahalgam. The whole journey takes approximately 5 days.

It is believed that Lord Shiva left Nandi,The Bull of Shiva, at Pahalgam. At Chandanwari, he released the Moon from his hair which is called as jattha. On the banks of Lake Sheshnag, he released his snakes. At Mahagunas Parvat , he left his son Lord Ganesha. At Panjtarni, Lord Shiva left behind the five elements – Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Sky. As a symbol of sacrificing the earthly world, Lord Shiva performed the Tandava Dance. Then, finally, Lord Shiva entered the Holy Amarnath Cave along with his wife Parvati.