Amarnath yatraOne 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 indefinable: he is the great yogi, the guardian of the absolute. His actions are the themes of the myths in which his nature unfolds.
Legend has it that Shiva recounted to Parvati the secret of creation in a cave in Amarnath. Unknown to them, a pair of mating doves eavesdropped on this conversation and having learned the secret, are reborn again and again, and have made the cave their eternal abode. Many pilgrims report seeing the doves-pair when they trek the arduous route to pay obeisance before the ice-lingam (the phallic symbol of Shiva).
Amarnath is 145 km east of Srinagar in Kashmir. There is an ice Silva-linga here that changes size with the seasons, and also as the moon waxes and wanes it becomes bigger and smaller. On the full moon day the linga is about 6 ft high. It is located in a glacial valley at 4,175 m (13,700 ft.). The cave is about 150 feet high and 90 feet long. Within the cave there are four or five ice formations that resemble the figures of different gods. The biggest figure is regarded as Siva (Amarnath).
By its side are, fascinatingly, two more ice-lingams, that of Parvati (on right), and of their son, Ganesha (on left).
The trek to Amarnath, in the month of Shravan (June-July-August) has the devout flock to this incredible shrine, where the image of Shiva, in the form of a lingam, is formed naturally of an ice-stalagmite, and which waxes and wanes with the moon.
The area is covered with snow from September to June. The cave opens only in June, July and August. This is the rainy season, so pilgrims have to brave the rain to get there. About 1,00,000+ people make this pilgrimage each year. There is a yearly pilgrimage starting from Srinagar that is led by the Chhari Saheb, the holy scepter.
Shiva, he of the opposites and the absolute, is known to have made his home in the Himalayas. He built no house nor shelter, not for himself nor for his bride. He was an ascetic, and yet married; he could be both for he was the wild god sporting in the forest or taking his ease on a cloud.
Darshan Season : July To August
The of the most important event during July/ August, is Amarnath Yatra to the Holy Pilgrimage. This is an annual event when thousands of Hindus from different corners of the Globe visit Amarnath caves. The pilgrims trek from Pahalgam to these caves and worship the great ice Lingam. Legend has it that Shiva recounted to Parvati the secret of creation in a cave in Amarnath.