Ranked 2 among Places to Visit in Amarnath
Time Required: 3 - 5 days
The Amarnath yatra route attracts lakhs of pilgrims every year who visit the site during Shravani Mela in July-August (Shravan month in Hindu calendar) - the only time in the whole year when the Amarnath Cave is accessible. The cave is placed at an altitude of 3,888m, about 141 km from Srinagar, the capital of Jammu and Kashmir and reached through Pahalgam town. The shrine has an important part to play in Hinduism and is considered to be one of the holiest shrines in Hinduism. The annual 'Amarnath Yatra' is marked by 'Pratham Pujan' which is said to invoke the blessings of Baba Amarnath.
The cave is embraced by snowy mountains. The cave itself is covered with snow most of the year except for a short period of time in summer when it is open for pilgrims. Thousands of Hindu devotees make an annual pilgrimage to the Amarnath cave on a rugged, mountainous terrain to see an ice pole formed inside the cave. Inside the 130 ft high Amarnath cave, the ice stalagmite is molded due to the freezing of water drops that fall from the roof of the cave onto the floor and rises up vertically from the cave floor. It is considered to be a Shiva Linga by Hindus.
The Cave waxes during May to August, as snow melts in the Himalayas above the cave and the resulting water, seeps into the rocks that form the cave and progressively fades thereafter. As per the religious beliefs, it has been claimed that the lingam grows and shrinks with the phases of the moon reaching its height during the summer festival. According to a Hindu mythology, this is the cave where Shiva enlightened the secret of life and eternity to his divine consort, Parvati. The main purpose of the annual pilgrimage to the cave is worship of the ice stalagmite Lingam.
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