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Amarnath Temple, Srinagar

Uttaranchal Amarnath Temple Jammu Kashmir Situated in a narrow gorge at the farther end of Lidder Valley, Amarnath stands at 3,888 m. and is 46 Km. From Pahalgam and 141 Km. from Srinagar. Though the original pilgrimages subscribes that the yatra be undertaken from Srinagar, the more common practice is to begin journey at Chandanwari, and cover the distance to Amarnath and back in five days.

Pahalgam is 96 Km. Srinagar. Amarnath is considered to be one of the major Hindu Dhams. The holy cave is the abode of the holy trinity, Lord Shiva. The guardian of the absolute, Lord Shiva, the destroyer, is enshrined in the form of an ice-lingam in this cave located at farther end of the Lidder Valley. This lingam is formed naturally of an ice stalagmite which wakes up and wanes with the moon.

THE YATRA The trek to Amarnath begins at Srinagar on the panchami day of the bright half of the month. The next halt enroute is Pampur, 9 miles south east of Srinagar. Subsequent halts are at Avantipur, Brijbihara and Martand. Martand is known for its ancient temple dedicated to the Sun God - now in ruins. Enroute to Martand are Anant Nag and Gautam Nag.

Martand is known as the architectural lion of Kashmir. It is a temple with a colonnade of 84 columns full of artistic work. This temple dates back to Lalitaditya of Kashmir of the 8th century. The next halt is at Aishmukam, and the next is Pahalgam, which is reached on the day of Dasami, the tenth day of the bright half of the month. At Pahalgam is the confluence of the rivers Seshnag and Liddar.

The next stop enroute is Chandanwadi, from where the confluence of the rivers Asthan Marg and Seshnag. Further up is the Pishu Ghati, believed to be the site where the demons were crushed by the Gods. Further up is the Seshnag lake at a height of about 12000 feet above sea level.

The Seshnag river flows out of this lake. The next halt is at Wavjan before the steep climb to the Mahagunus Pass at a height of 14000 feet, after which there is a down slope leading to Panchatarni. From here, the Amarnath cave is reached on the full moon day, and the pilgrimage is complete.

 

THE MYTH The Amarnath Cave was where Lord Shiva narrated the secret of immortality, the Amar Katha to his wife Parvati. Shiva hesitated at first but finally gave in. He wanted to reveal the secret in an isolated place far from any living being and thus chose the Amarnath Cave. In preparation, Shiva left his Nandi (the Bull), which he rode at Pahalgam.

At Chandanwari, he released the moon from his hair and on the banks of Lake Sheshnag, he released the snakes. Son Ganesha was left at Mahagunas Parvat and at Panjtarni, Shiva left the Five Elements behind - earth, water, air, fire and sky - that make life possible. As a final precaution, Shiva created Rudra named Kalagni and ordered him to set afire and eliminate every living thing in and around the Holy Cave.

Finally, Shiva and Parvati entered the Amarnath Cave where he began meditating on a deerskin. He then narrated the Amar Katha to Parvati. Unknown to them, a pair of mating doves eavesdropped on this conversation and learned the secret. Reborn again and again, they have made the cave their eternal abode. Today, pilgrims claim seeing the pair of doves when they trek the arduous route to pay their obeisance at Shivalinga formed naturally of an ice stalagmite.

THE LEGEND The story narrated by people about the discovery of this Holy Cave is of a Gujjar ( shepherd) Buta Malik . He is given the credit of discovering this Holy Cave . Story goes like this , that a saint gave Buta Malik a bag full of Coal. On reaching his home when he opened the bag , to his utter surprise the bag was full of gold coins.

Dedicated to : Lord Shiva
Importance : The Amarnath Cave was where Lord Shiva narrated the secret of Immortality
Best Time to Visit : July - August

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