Shiv Jee | Shiv Temples

Om Namah Shivaaya
Shiv Temples

Home | Shiv | Shiv-Temples


Previous | Next

Shiv Temple at Amarnaath
See also   Story of Amarnaath Jee

Location - Amarnaath, Jammoo and Kashmeer

The Himaalayan pilgrimages are the oldest organized travel system, evolved over time by Hindu sages and embodying the spirit of wander, adventure and spirituality. There are many pilgrimages in Himaalaya from West to East. Most important are Amarnaath, Badaree Naath, Kedaar Naath, Gangotree, Yamunotree, Kailaash Mountain etc.

One of the holy trinity, Shiv is a living god. The most ancient and sacred book of India, the Rig Ved evokes his presence in its hymns. Vaidik myths, ritual and even astronomy testify to his existence from the dawn of the time. Shiv is known to have made his home in the Himaalaya. 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."

Legend has it that Shiv recounted to Paarvatee the secret of creation in the Amarnaath cave. Unknown to them, a pair of mating pigeons 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 that pigeon-pair when they trek the arduous route to pay obeisance before the ice-Lingam (the phallic symbol of Shiv).

Amarnaath Cave is named after Mount Amarnaath (5,486 meters high), where it is located at nearly 4000 meters height. Situated in a narrow gorge at the farther end of Liddar Valley, Amarnaath stands at the height of 12,756 feet (3,888 meters) and is 26 miles (42 km) from Pahalgaam and 88 miles (141 km) from Shreenagar. Because of this height, the cave is covered with snow for most of the year. Only for a short period in summer, the entrance is accessible. The cave is an ice cave; it contains a certain amount of ice stalagmites.

Discovery of This Cave
According to another ancient tale, there was once a Muslim shepherd named Bootaa Malik who was given a sack of coal by a Saadhu. Upon reaching home he discovered that the sack, in fact, contained gold. Overjoyed and overcome, Bootaa Malik rushed back to look for the Saadhu and thank him for the gold, but on the spot of their meeting discovered a cave, and eventually this became a place of pilgrimage for all believers. To date, a percentage of the donations made by pilgrims are given to the descendants of Malik, and the remaining to the trust which manages the shrine.

Yet another legend has it that when Kashyap Rishi drained the Kashmeer Valley of water (it was believed to have been a vast lake there long before), the cave and the lingam were discovered by Bregish Rishi who was traveling the Himaalayas. When people heard of the lingam, Amarnaath for them became Shiv's abode and a centre of pilgrimage.

Amarnaath Yaatraa
See also Amarnaath Yaatraa
Whatever the legends and the history of Amarnaath discovery, it is today a very important center of pilgrimage and though the route is as difficult to negotiate as it is exciting every year, thousands of devotees come to pay homage before Shiv in one of his famous Himaalayan abodes. This is one of the most important annual events of this place taking place during July and August. The pilgrims trek from Pahalgaam to these caves and worship the great ice Lingam. Though the original pilgrimage subscribes that the Yaatraa be undertaken from Shreenagar, the more common practice is to begin the journey from Pahalgaam, and cover the distance to and fro Amarnaath in 4-5 days with night halts at Chandanwaadee, Sheshnaag (Wawjan) and Panchtaranee. Pahalgaam is 96 km from Shreenagar.

The distance from Pahalgaam to Chandanwaadee is 13 km and is covered between 4-5 hours. and the trail runs along the Lidder River. Pilgrims camp here on the first night out. A major attraction here is a bridge covered, year round, with ice even though the surroundings are free from it.

The next day's trek, of 13 km, is through spectacular, primeval countryside, and the main centre of attraction is Sheshnaag, a mountain which derives its name from its seven peaks, resembling the heads of a mythical snake. The journey to Sheshnag follows steep inclines up the right bank of a cascading stream and wild scenery untouched by civilization. The second night's camp at Wawjan overlooks the deep blue waters of Sheshnaag lake, and glaciers beyond it. There are legends of love and revenge too associated with Sheshnaag, and at the camp these are recounted by campfires, to the stillness of a pine-scented, Himalayan night.

The third day's 13 km trek steadily gains height, winding up across Mahaagunas Pass at 2.9 miles (4.6 km) and then descending to the meadow-lands of Panchtaranee, the last camp on route to the holy cave.

From Panchtaranee to Amarnaath is only 6 km, but an early morning's start is recommended for there is a long queue awaiting entrance to the cave. The same day, following Darshan, devotees can return to Panchtaranee in time for lunch, and continue to Wawjan to spend the fourth night out; or continue further to Zojibal, returning to Pahalgam on the fifth day.

You may watch some videos on Youtube, type "Amarnath Yatra" in search window.

The trek to Amarnaath, in the month of Shraavan (July-August) has the devout flock to this incredible shrine, where the image of Shiv, in the form of a lingam, is formed naturally of an ice - stalagmite, and which waxes and wanes with the Moon. By its side are, fascinatingly, two more ice-lingams, that of Paarvatee and of their son, Ganesh. Since the base point for the pilgrim's trek is picturesque Pahalgaam, a large tented township springs up to accommodate the pilgrims. The conduct of the Yaatraa is a gigantic task in which the State Government takes the assistance of the security departments for providing security and helping to keep the route open. All intermediate halting places have the same kind of facilities as are provided at Pahalgaam, and a Yaatraa Officer is appointed to conduct the pilgrimage.

The Hindu pilgrims believe, that the height of the lingam increases and decreases with the phases of the moon. In the month of Shraavan, on the Full Moon in August, thousands of Hindu go on a pilgrimage up to the cave. At this time the lingam reaches its biggest size. The pilgrimage is somewhat dangerous. The big height and the low temperature, combined with the under-nourished state of many people, cost a yearly toll on lives of people.



Home | Shiv | Shiv-Temples


Previous | Next

Created and Maintained by Sushma Gupta
Created on March 15, 2003 and Updated on October 24, 2013