One of the most sacred Hindu pilgrimages, Amarnath is worldwide famous for the natural formation of Shiva Linga from the snow. This divine Yatra to the holy cave is opened only in the months of Shravan i.e. July and August as these are the only months when it is quite easy to access the holy cave.
Hundreds of thousands of Hindus and other devotees make an annual pilgrimage to the Amarnath cave across challenging mountainous terrain. The Amarnath Cave Temple is one of the 51 Shakti Peethas, temples throughout South Asia that commemorate the location of fallen body parts of the Hindu deity Sati.
It is believed that Lord Shiva left Nandi, the bull, at Pahalgam (Bail Gaon). At Chandanwari, he released the Moon from his hair (Jata). On the banks of Lake Sheshnag, he released his snake. Then, finally, Lord Shiva entered the AmarnathP Cave along with Parvati and both of them manifested into a Lingam made of Ice.
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AMARNATH CAVE STORY:
It is believed that once Parvati asked Lord Shiva about when He started wearing the beads on his heads. To this question, Lord Shiva replied when Parvati was born. Parvati then queried: why are you immortal and I keep on dying again and again? Lord Shiva said that this is due to the Amar Katha. Parvati insisted to hear that Amar Katha and after convincing Lord for a long time, Lord Shiva decided to narrate that story to her.
To narrate the story, Lord Shiva started looking for an absolutely lonely place so that no living being can hear that Amar Katha except for Parvati. He finally found the Amarnath Cave. To reach there, he left all his belongings on the way like His bull Nandi at Pahalgam, his moon at Chandanwari, his snakes at the banks of lake sheshnag, his son Ganesha at Mahagunas Parvat and at Panjtarni, he left his Five Elements (Earth, Fire, Water, Air and Sky).
After this, Lord Shiva entered this holy Amarnath Cave with Parvati. It is believed that he sat himself on the deer Skin and took a samadhi. To further make sure that not even a single living being could hear the secret Amar Katha, He created a rudra named Kalagni and ordered him to set fire around the cave so that everything living around that place could be destroyed. He then started narrating the story of immortality to Parvati. But in spite of all these efforts, one egg remained protected under the deer skin on which the Lord was sitting. A pair of pigeons were born out of that egg and supposedly became immortal. Pilgrims can still see the pigeon pair while going towards the Amarnath Cave.
HISTORY OF AMARNATH:
According to the local folk tales, it is said that a poor Muslim shepherd named, Buta Malik found the cave in 1850.
Going by the legend, the shepherd was given a bag of coal by a saint which later turned into gold. To sincerely thank him, the shepherd went back but instead of finding the saint he ended up finding the cave and the Shiva Linga.
Another story of the discovery of the shrine is that Brighu Muni was the first to discover the cave in the valley of Kashmir and it was he who informed the existence of the divine ice shrine to the local villagers.
If we look at it scientifically, the structure is just a stalagmite which is formed due to the falling freezing drops of water from the roof of the cave.
During the months of May to August, the ice melts and waxes and during the after months due to the continuous seeping of water, it wanes.
For Hindus, the stalagmite is more than a natural phenomenon, it represents their belief, faith and their devotion to Lord Shiva, who embodies the ice shrine and blesses everyone who seeks for him.
Amarnath is truly a beautiful cave and a place to visit. A lot of religious sentiments and beliefs are attached to the temple.
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