Amarnath is one of the most famous of Hindu temples, dedicated to Lord Shiva, located in Jammu and Kashmir, Republic of India. The temple is reported to be around 5000 years old and is considered as the most sacred pilgrimage in the Hindu religion - about 400,000 people visit during the 45 day season around the festival of Shravani Mela in July-August, coinciding with the Hindu holy month of Shravan.
The temple is reported to be about 5000 years old and has been mentioned in ancient Hindu texts. The exact discovery of the cave is not clear, though it is commonly believed that a Gujjar (natives of Kashmir) shepherd found the cave and was given a bag by a saint in it. When he returned home he found them to be gold coins, and this got the entire village excited and believed that the cave is the home to the Lord. Another legend says that a Hindu rishi, Kashyap drained the lake of Kashmir and found the cave along with the lingam in it. This latter legend might be alluding to the geological transformation of this region, when the massive sea in this part was compressed by the Indian geological plate to form the Himalayas.
The Shivalingam at Amarnath is formed of ice and it is popularly known as ICELINGAM. It is the firm belief and trust of Hindus that those who are able to visit this shrine will have no re-birth. One of the holy trinity, Shiva is a living God. The most sacred and most ancient book of India, the Rig-Veda evokes his presence in its hymns. Vedic myths, ritual and even astronomy testify to his existence from the dawn of time. But Shiva, the destroyer, the mendicant, is un-definable. He is the great yogi, the guardian of the absolute. His actions are the temes of the myths in which his nature unfolds.
Inside the Amarnath Cave lies the ice Shiva Linga (along with two other ice formations representing Ganesh and Parvati) a natural formation of an ice stalagmite in the form of lingam. This lingam, of Shiva is said to grow and shrink with the phases of the moon, reaching it's height during the summer festival. According to Hindu mythology, this is the cave where Lord Shiva told about the secret of Life and eternity to His divine consort Parvati, and hence this shrine holds a very special value to the Hindus.
Location and Climate
Situated in a narrow gorge at the farther end of Lidder Valley, Amarnath stands at 3,888 m. and is 46 Km. from Pahalgam and 141 Km. from Srinagar in the state of Jammu and Kashmir in India.
The climatic conditions are very uncertain . Rain or snowfall may take place at any time or place during the Yatra . It is to be particularly noted that abrupt changes in temperature might occur . Sunny weather may turn into rain / snow fall in a short time . The temperature may fall upto -5 degree C .
Yatra to Baba Amarnath Holy Cave for which one has to trek a height of about 14,500 ft is full of thrill and joy .The feeling of divine which is always beneath ones' heart , burst out and one realises ‘Moksha’ as one attends the Cave and perform the prayer before the Shivlinga . Surrounded by beautiful valleys, mountains , one will always feel His presence on the paradise of the earth, the memory of which hardly vanishes with time A journey which will rediscover the nature and its love which is always inside but one has never felt.
Air : The nearest Airport is away in Badgam Distt. This Airport is connected with major cities of India.
Rail : The nearest Rail Head is at Jammu which is 300 Kms
Road : National Highway NH1A connects the Kashmir valley with country. Every sort of transport to suit every budget from Buses to Taxis ply on this Highway
The Amarnath Yatra, according to Hindu beliefs, begins on Ashadha Poornima (Full Moon Day of Hindu Month 'Ashadha') and ends on Shravana Poornima (Full Moon Day of Hindu Month 'Shravana'). The two-month Yatra for the year 2007 began on July 1, 2007 amidst tight security and adverse weather conditions.
The cave is situated at an height of 3888 m about 141 km from the Kashmir's capital city of Srinagar. The area is under the control of the Indian Army due to terrorism threats and hence prior permission is needed from the government before making the pilgrimage.