Amarnath temple – The mighty shrine of a mighty God
There aren’t many who aren’t aware of the larger than life Amarnath Yatra that takes place in the beautiful snowy mountains of Jammu and Kashmir. The Amarnath temple is situated in a cave at an altitude of 12,756 ft some distance away from Srinagar and can be reached through Pahalgam. What captures the imagination, curiosity and faith of the people is the ice stalagmite, considered to be the Shivalinga that naturally forms inside the cave every year. That ice stalagmite is considered to be a manifestation of Lord Shiva, and the followers of this God of Destruction make their way to Amarnath amidst cries of “Bam Bam Bhole!”
The Amarnath cave is believed to be the place where Lord Shiva told Goddess Parvati the secret of life and eternity. This secret was heard by a pair of pigeons, and it is said that even today that immortal pair of pigeons visit the Amarnath cave at the same time when the ice stalagmite is formed. The Amarnath temple has found place in the ancient texts as a place of worship, giving this religious destination added charm and history. The Amarnath cave also comprises two other ice formations that are worshipped as Goddess Parvati and Lord Ganesha. It’s said that the lingam grows and shrinks according to the phases of the moon and reaches its height during the summer festival.
The Amarnath temple sees as many as 622,000 pilgrims during the 45-day season in July-August. This year, the Yatra started on the 2nd of July and will end on the 29th of August. Pilgrims reach the Amarnath temple either by foot, by helicopter, on a Yatra doli or on a horse. On the way, several non-profit organizations supply free food and tents to the yatris to make travelling easier.
What’s more, this trek to the Amarnath cave is made more beautiful by the surrounding environs and snow-capped mountains of the region. Although difficult and dangerous, the journey to Amarnath is something everyone should take up at least once in their lifetime.