Amarnath caves is one of the most famous of Hindu temples, dedicated to Lord Shiva, located in Jammu and Kashmir. Situated 145 Kms east of Srinagar. Amarnath shrine is located inside a cave in the Himalayas.
There is an ice Silva-linga here that changes size with the seasons, and also as the moon waxes and wanes it becomes bigger and smaller. On the full moon day the linga is about 6 ft high. Each year on the full moon day of July-August (Sravana) when the Siva-linga attains its maximum height there is a festival at this cave temple. It is said that Lord Siva first appeared on this day.
It is located in a glacial valley at 4,175m (13,700 ft.). The cave is about 150 feet high and 90 feet long. Within the cave there are four or five ice formations that resemble the figures of different gods. The biggest figures of different gods. The biggest figure is regarded as Siva (Amarnath). On the left side of the linga is an ice formation called Ganesh, and on the right side is one of Parvati and Bhairava.
The of the most important event during July/ August, is Amarnath Yatra to the Holy Pilgrimage. This is an annual event when thousands of Hindus from different corners of the Globe visit Amarnath caves. The pilgrims trek from Pahalgam to these caves and worship the great ice Lingam.
Legend has it that Shiva recounted to Parvati the secret of creation in a cave in Amarnath. Unknow to them, a pair of mating doves eavesdropped on this conversation and having learned the secret, are reborn again and again, and have made the cave their eternal abode. Many pilgrims report seeing the doves-pair when they trek the arduous route to pay obeisance before the ice-lingam (the phallic symbol of Shiva). This is an event you certainly will talk about for the rest of your life.
There are two different ways of reaching the Amarnath shrine. The traditional route passes via Pahalgam, Sheshnag and Panchtarni.
The new route is via Baltal. If pilgrims opt to travel by the old route then it takes approximately four days to reach the holy Amarnath Dham. Those who choose to travel by the new route reach the place in a day's time. Most Hindus try to visit this shrine at least once in a lifetime.
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