Amarnath ji Cave in Anantnag
The shrine is positioned in the hill top of Mount Amarnath which is positioned at the altitude of 12,756 feet above the sea level. This is said to be one of the hardest pilgrimage in Hinduism due to its tough geographical conditions and excruciating climatic environment. This shrine is opened for very short period of time and it is allowed only for physically fit and healthy persons. Amarnath caves are usually accessible during the summer season and thousands of devotees come here to show their devotion.
Amarnath caves are established in outstretch of Anantnag district. It has ice pillar which is stalagmite formed indoors. This is believed to be phallic symbol of Hindu God, Lord Shiva and considered among the top holiest places in the world. The Lingam inside the 40 meter heighted caves is of around 5 feet in height formed due to freezing of water drops falling from the roof of caves.
Two small stalagmites are also found in the arena adjacent to the main Lingam that is believed to be Goddess Parvati and their son Lord Ganesha. The amazing fact about this ice Lingam is that its size changes as per the phases of moon. On the full moon day it is believed that lingam gets its maximum height and due to this significance the full moon day of Shravana month, has this place witness huge flow of pilgrims.
History of Amarnath Caves
As per another fact, it is believed that it was re discovered by the Buta Malik, the shepherd who used to come in this region along with his sheep. A saint came to that place and gave him bag of coal. On arrival at home he found gold coins instead of coal. He came back to same place to give thanks but he found only holy shrine of Amarnath there in form of ice lingam. And from that time it is renowned place of pilgrimage in Hinduism.
Significance of Amarnath Caves
To keep story of immortal secret and undisclosed he left alone all his belongings on the way to Amarnath caves. While taking departure from Pahalgam, Lord Shiva left Nandi, the ride of God. At Chandanwari he left moon, at Sheshnag left his snakes, at Mahagunas Parvat his son Ganesha, at Panjtarni he left 5 elements of body i.e. earth, water, air, fire, and sky; whose owner was Lord Shiva.
Lord Shiva entered this Cave along with Goddess Parvati. Lord Shiva take deep Samadhi and to ensure no living being get that secret, he recalled kalagni to destroy all living element in the caves. Afterwards, he began his narration of reason behind the immortality and creation of universe to goddess Parvati.
In Immortal means ‘Amar’ hence this place is called as Amarnath because Lord Shiva revealed the fact of being Immortal here. By chance one pair of pigeon heard this story and became immortal. Some people get the glimpses of this couple in the caves which are said to be perpetual. This amazing fact is believable because at such high altitude it is hard to deem that birds can survive such destructive climatic conditions.
Description of Amarnath Caves
Amarnath Caves are significantly larger in shape. From distance it looks mammoth size in appearance. Its horizontal height is 75 feet and it is 80 feet deep inside the mountain. The lingam form due to drops stalagmite is of five feet with cone on the top. It is adjoined by two small blocks of ice which are said to be Goddess Parvati and Lord Ganesha. The significance is that lingam gains its height till the full moon day and starts declining after as similar as moon starts reducing in size. On moonless day the lingam vanishes completely hence this pilgrim is visited during full moon days in shravana only.
How to Reach Amarnath Caves
Anantnag- Pahalgam- Amarnath Caves Route
Till sheshnag, the trek is friendly, but here onwards people have to face steep ascending path. This remains till devotees arrive at Panchtarni via Mahagunas Pass which is 4.6 km from Sheshnag and afterwards devotees have to face sliding meadows of Panchtarni. The complete distance from Sheshnag to Panchtarni is 13 km. The Holy caves are 6 km away from its last stoppage i.e. Panchtarni.