Amarnath is located at 145 km east of Srinagar in Kashmir. Amarnath is an ice Siva-linga that changes size with all the seasons of the year and also as the moon waxes and wanes, it becomes bigger and smaller. On the full moon day, the Lord Shiva linga is about 6 ft high. Amarnath is located in a glacial valley at 4,175 m which is about 13,700 ft anove mean sea-level and cave is about 150 feet high and 90 feet long. Within the auspicious cave there are four or five ice formations that resemble the figures of different gods. The biggest figure is regarded as Siva which is called as the Amarnath.
Video - In and Around Amarnath Temple
Gujjar Buta Malik a shepherd was the person who has discovered this Holy Cave. Story gives evidences that a saint gave Buta Malik a bag full of Coal and on reaching his home when Gujjar opened the bag , to his utter surprise the bag was full of gold coins which made him overwhelm with joy. As the Gujjar ran to thank the Saint, he found that the Saint had disappeared. Instead the shepherd found that Holy Cave and Shiv Lingam were inside in it. Then the Gujjar announced the discovery of this to the villagers and from then onwards this has become the sacred place of pilgrimage.
The ancient epics also narrate another story which says that the valley of Kashmir was under water which was big lake. Kashyap Rishi drained the water through number of rivers and rivulets. While in those days the Bhrigu Rishi came that way on a visit to the Himalyas and was the first to have Darshans of this Holy Cave. As people started hearing about the Lingam, Amarnath for them became Shiva’s abode and a Centre of pilgrimage. Since then lacs of devotees perform the pilgrimage through tough terrain and avail eternal happiness.
Significance of the temple
Amarnath Shiva Lingam is one of the holy trinity where Lord Shiva is a living god. The Rig Veda most sacred and most ancient book of India evokes his presence in its hymns, Vedic Myths, rituals even testify his existence from the dawn of time. Legend conveys that Shiva recounted to Parvati the secret of creation in a cave in Amarnath. Every year an annual yatra to Holy Amarnath Cave, situated at 14000 ft. above sea level, is organised by the Jammu & Kashmir State Government during the month of July and August. The pilgrims who would like to visit the Holy Shrine Amarnath are allowed to perform darshan from Ashard Purnimashi to Shravan Purnimashi which spreads over a month or so.
Amarnath Cave is one which was chosen by Bhole Shankar for narrating the secrets of immortality and creation of Universe to Maa Parvati ji. Centuries ago Maa Parvati asked Shiv ji to let her know why and when Lord Shiva started wearing the beads of heads ( Mund Mala). Lord Bhole Shankar replied whe ever you (mata parvati ji) are born I add one more head in my beads. Maa Parvati said," My Lord, my body is always destroyed every time and I die again and again, but you are Immortal. Please let me know the secret of this then " Bhole Shankar replied that it is due to Amar Katha ."
Maa Parvati insisted that she may be told that secret and for long Shiva ji continued postponing. Finally one fine day because of constant demand of Maa Parvati, Lord Shiva made up his mind to tell the immortal secret. He started revealing the story of the lonely place where no living being could listen it for he chose Amarnath Cave.
While going to it Lord Shiva left His Nandi (The Bull which He used to ride) at Pahalgam (Bail gaon). At Chandanwari the Lord released Moon from his hairs (Jataon) and at banks of Lake Sheshnag Lord Shiva released the snakes. Lord Shiva decided to leave his Son Ganesha at Mahagunas Parvat (Mahaganesh Hill). Then At Panjtarni, Lord Shivji left the Five Elements behind (Earth , Water, Air , Fire and Sky) which make living being. It has been believed that as a for sacrificing the earthly world, Shivaji and Maa Parvati did the Tandav Dance. After leaving behind all such things Bhole Shankar had entered the Holy Amarnath Cave along with Parvati Maa. Then Lord Shiva took his Samadhi on the Deer Skin and concentrated to ensure that no living being is able to hear the Immortal Tale. Shivji then created Rudra named Kalagni and ordered him to spread fire to eliminate every living thing in and around the Holy Cave. After all these preparations he started narrating the secret of immortality to Maa Parvati. But as the matter of chance one egg which was lying beneath the Deer skin remained protected. It is believed to be non living and more over it was protected by Shiva -Parvati Asan (Bed). The pair of pigeons which were born out of this egg became immortal having listened the secret of immortality (Amar Katha).
Many pilgrims report seeing the pair of pigeons when they trek the arduous route to pay their obeisance before the Ice-Lingam (the phallic symbol of Shiva).
Time to Visit
The trek to Amarnath is usually in the month of sharavan (July–August) when 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, which eventually waxes and wanes with the Moon's cycle. By its side are fascinating, two more Ice Lingams, that of Maa Parvati and of their son, Ganesha.
Rules and Rituals of the temples
Improve Your Physical Fitness - As Amarnath Yatra involves very long distance of walking, it is advised to start preparatory morning / evening walk of about 4 - 5 Kms per day at least a month before the actual date of Yatra which would make the Yatra smooth and trouble-free as the body already gets accustomed with long walking.
Apart from walking, daily massage of body with mustard (sarson) oil or body oil and bathing in the lukewarm water helps the body to become flexible and people would not feel tired. Which would also reduce the effect of sudden change in temperature and climate to a large extent.
Improve your Breathing Efficiency - It is very much advisable to increase your body efficiency of oxygen through deep breathing exercise or through Yoga exercise like Prana Yam as there might be trouble in inhaling oxygen.
There would be a trek through high mountains like Pahalgam to Chandanwadi with an average walking distance of 4 hours; Chandanwadi to Sheshnag with a walking distance of 5 to 6 hours; Sheshnag to Panchtarni with a walking trek of 6 hours; and Panchtarni to Baba Amarnath Cave that finally takes 5 hours.
While passing through these treks people may face number of problems like unpredictable climate that may change abruptly from sunny weather to rain and snow, the temperature may fall even up to (-5) degree C. So, people should be well prepared by taking the essential belongings before departure.
Due to unpredictable weather conditions, which might be often wet and extremely cold during the Yatra period, pilgrims are strictly advised to carry rain coat, woollen clothing, small umbrella, walking stick, dry fruits, torch and personal medical kits, etc.
Accommodation Facilities at the Temple
There are good arrangements for accomodaton done near the holy shrine like the tented accommodation with cot, quilt, mattress, blanket, chadar and pillow,etc. Then on sharing basis with meals (breakfast and dinner) at Chinaware, Sheshnag, Panchtarni and Baltal.
Hotel accommodation are available at each halt like at Pahalgam and Deluxe Houseboats at Srinagar as per Itineraries.
Transportation is also available by non A/C Tata Sumo's with maximum 06 pax plus driver per vehicle for transfers and sight seeing as per Itineraries.
Amarnath Yatra registration is done usually by Tourist Offices as no pilgrim is allowed inside the territory of the holy shrine without registration with the Yatra board first.
Registrations & bookings for Amanath Yatra have to be done with the J&K Govt and can be done from several of the centers like Mumbai, Calcutta, Delhi, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Jammu and Srinagar.