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Secret of immortality in Amarnath Cave

  • Amarnath Cave

Highlights

  • Legend has it that Shiva recounted to Goddess Parvati the secret of creation in the Shri Amarnathji cave.
  • The image of Lord Shiva, in the form of a Lingam, is formed naturally of ice - stalagmite, and which waxes and wanes with the moon.

Shiva is known to have made his adobe in the Himalayas. Legend has it that Shiva recounted to Goddess Parvati the secret of creation in the Shri Amarnathji cave. Unknown to them, a pair of pigeons eavesdropped on this conversation and having learned the secret, are liberated from rebirth, and have made the cave their eternal abode. Whatever the legends and the history of Shri Amarnathji's discovery, it is today a very important centre of pilgrimage and though the route is as difficult to negotiate as it is exciting, every year, thousands of devotees come to pay homage before Lord Shiva in one of his famous Himalayan abodes. The trek to Shri Amarnathji, has the devout flock to this incredible shrine, where the image of Lord Shiva, in the form of a Lingam, is formed naturally of ice - stalagmite, and which waxes and wanes with the moon. By its side are, fascinatingly, two more ice - lingams, that of Goddess Parvati and of their son, Shri Ganesha. Situated in a narrow gorge at the farther end of Lidder valley, Shri Amarnathji 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. The yatra is also now undertaken, on a shorter route, from Baltal (Sonamarg), which is 102 kms from Srinagar. The Shrine is managed by Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB), that was constituted by an Act of the State Legislature in 2000 with His Excellency the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir as its ex-officio Chairman. The Amarnathji Shrine Board is responsible for smooth and trouble free pilgrimage to the Holy Shrine.

The legend of Amarnath
According to popular folklore, Goddess Parvati, the consort of Shiva, had asked Him to reveal the secret of immortality, which He had been keeping from Her for a long time. Shiva then took Her to an isolated place in the Himalayas where they would not be overheard and disclosed it to Her. While, on His way to the Himalayas, Shiva is said to have left the moon that sits on His head, at Chandanwari and Nandi, His bull, at Pahalgam. After that, Shiva left His son; the elephant god, Ganesha, at the Mahagunas Hill, and snake at Sheshnag. Shiva then supposedly dropped all the five elements at Panchtarni before taking Parvati into a cave.Shiva then is believed to have generated a fire inside the cave in order to annihilate any living creature present inside so they would not over hear Him. He however, failed to notice two pigeon eggs that were left unharmed as they were present underneath some deer skin. The two eggs quietly hatched while Shiva was narrating the secret to Parvati and overheard the secret.Upon reaching the Amarnath Cave, visitors can see a pair of pigeons at the site. According to popular local belief, the two pigeons who overheard Shiva's secret take birth again and again which is why they have made the Amarnath cave their permanent home.

Amarnath in mythology
This popular pilgrimage destination has been mentioned in a Sanskrit text, the Nilamata Purana that belongs to the 6th century. The Purana gives an account of the ritualistic and cultural life styles of the residents of Kashmir. Amarnath has also been linked with the saintly king Aryaraja who ascended the throne of Kashmir in 34 BCE. The king eventually abdicated his rights as a king. He is said to have frequented the destination during the summers in order to worship a naturally formed ice 'lingam'. Amarnath has also been mentioned in the Rajatarangini as Amareshwara.

The sacred cave of Amarnath
On his visit to Amarnath, between, 1420 and 1470, Sultan Zain’labidin had a canal called Shah Kol built.While, on a trip to Amarnath, travellers must not miss the Amarnath Cave situated at an elevation of 3888 m. This cave enshrines the naturally formed ice 'Shivalinga'. This ice 'shivalinga' buffs and fades depending on the cycle of the Moon and achieves maximum height from May to August. According to popular belief, this cave is around 5000 years old. This cave is believed to be the place where Shiva revealed the secret of immortality to Goddess Parvati.Two other ice 'lingams' of Ganesha and Goddess Parvati are also situated there.
The site is constantly guarded by the Indian Army, the Indian Parliamentary Forces, and the CRPF. As a result, visitors need prior permission from higher officials in order to visit the Amarnath Cave.

How to rech

Amarnath by Flight
The nearest airport is Srinagar. One must then take a cab to Baltal which is 62 kms away from Amarnath to reach the destination. One can also instead head to Pahalgam from Srinagar.
Amarnath by Road: Amarnath is on a very treacherous terrain, hence it is not very well connected by road. One travels to Jammu and then one has to go by road to Srinagar and then to reach Baltal or Pahalgam. Baltal is the shortest trek on the way up to Amarnath, but slightly difficult. Pahalgam trek is longer and relatively safer and more suited for families and elder people. People can also hire ponies and palkies to counter the strenuous terrain. From Baltal, it is a 1-2 day trek (15 km) to reach Amarnath. However, the Pahalgam route is relatively longer and takes around 3-5 days (36-48 km).
Amarnath by Train: There are no direct trains to Amarnath. The nearest station is Jammu, at a distance of 178 kms from Amarnath. From Jammu, one can hire cabs to reach either Baltal or Pahalgam. From Baltal, it is a 1-2 day trek (15 km) to reach Amarnath. However, the Pahalgam route is relatively longer and takes around 3-5 days (36-48 km).

 

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