Shiva Lingam (Lord Shiva) of Amarnath cave
Shiva Lingam (Lord Shiva) of Amarnath cave

Amarnath Cave Temple is situated in Jammu and Kashmir, India and it is said to be one of the holiest temple of Hinduism. Amarnath cave is located at an altitude of 12,756 feet, and it is reported to be 5000 years old, dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is said that the holy Amarnath cave was discovered by a shepherd named Buta Malik. It is believed that a Saint gave a bag full of coal to Buta Malik. When he opened the bag after reaching home, he found the bag full of gold coins. This made Buta Malik an utter surprise and he ran searching the saint to thank him but the saint was disappeared.

A distant view of Amarnath cave
A distant view of Amarnath cave

On searching the saint, he found the holy cave and the Shiva Lingam. From then that place has become a sacred place for the Pilgrimage. Shiva lingam inside the cave is formed when the water falls from the roof gets assembled and it starts to freeze on the floor and grows up from the floor. The stalagmite formed is considered to be a Shiva Lingam and worshipped by the devotees. This temple will be opened for worship from mid-June or at the beginning of July till August.

A closeup view of ice Shiva Lingam at Amarnath cave shrine
A closeup view of ice Shiva Lingam at Amarnath cave shrine

Specialty

The main deity of this temple is Lord Shiva, in the form of Ice Lingam. It is believed that this is the place where Lord Shiva explained the secret of life and eternity to Goddess Parvati. To narrate the secret of immortality, Lord Shiva left all His belongings on the way, even His five elements (Earth, Fire, Water, Air and Sky). On the search of a secret place, He found Amaranth cave and entered inside the cave along with Goddess Parvati. Lord Shiva took His Samadhi on the deer skin and created Rudra named Kalagni and instructed him to set fire around the cave to destroy every living thing around the cave.

A remote view of Amarnath Cave
A remote view of Amarnath Cave

Then Lord Shiva started narrating the secret of eternity, but unknowingly, an egg remained protected under the deer skin on which the Lord Shiva was seated. But it was considered as non-living. Later, a pair of pigeons born out of this egg and became immortal as the secret was listened by them. It is reported that still the pilgrims can see the pigeon pair on the way towards the Amarnath temple. It is believed that the Shiva Lingam increases and decreases in its size indicating the different phases of the moon. There are two other ice formations exist in the cave which are believed to be Goddess Parvati and Lord Ganesha.

A file picture of night shelters at Baltal base near Sonarmarg 120 kms from Srinagar erected for the Amarnath yatra pilgrims.
A file picture of night shelters at Baltal base near Sonarmarg 120 kms from Srinagar erected for the Amarnath yatra pilgrims.

Shri Amarnath Yatra

Shri Amarnath Yatra is organised in the month of Shravan and commences from Pahalgam & Baltal on specified dates. Situated in a narrow gorge at the farther end of Lidder valley, Shri Amarnathji Cave Shrine stands at 3,888 m and is 45 km from Pahalgam and 141 km from Srinagar. Though the original pilgrimage subscribes that the yatra be undertaken from Srinagar, the more common practice is to begin the journey from Pahalgam, and cover the distance to Shri Amarnathji and back in four or five days. Pahalgam is 96 km from Srinagar.

Amarnath pilgrims en route the holy shrine
Amarnath pilgrims en route the holy shrine

In recent times the Baltal route via Sonamarg has also become very popular because of its short distance track (although very steep) to the Holy Cave of Shri Amarnathji. The base points for the pilgrim’s trek are picturesque Pahalgam and Sonamarg, a large tented township springs up to accommodate the pilgrims at both these locations. The conduct of the yatra is a gigantic task in which the Jammu & Kashmir State Government takes the assistance of the security departments for providing security and helping to keep the route open.

By Road

Travelers can reach Amarnath temple by trekking. Jammu and Srinagar are well connected with major nearby destinations. Buses connect Srinagar to places such as Chandigarh, Jammu, Pahalgam, Delhi, and Leh.

Taxis to the destination is also available. The entrance point to Amarnath, via Pahalgam, is at a distance of about 363 km from Jammu, whereas Pahalgam is at about 50 km from the caves of Amarnath.


By Train

The railway station is well connected to all the major Indian cities and towns such as Bangalore, Chennai, Delhi, and Trivandrum. Tourists can hire taxis to reach Amarnath from Jammu Railway Station.


By Air

The Srinagar airport, also known as Sheikh-ul-Alam Airport, is the nearest domestic airport to Amarnath. Srinagar is well connected to Delhi and Jammu via flights. The nearest international airport to Srinagar is the Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi. The Delhi airport is well connected to major countries and all Indian cities and towns.

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