One of the holy Trinity, Shiva is a living God. the most sacred and the most ancient book of India, the Rig-Veda evokes his presence in its hymns. Vedic myths, rituals and even astronomy testify to his existence from the dawn of time. But Shiva, Destroyer, the mendicant, is indefinable : He is a great yogi. 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 ardous route to pay obeisance before the ice-lingam.
Situated in a narrow gorge at the farther end of Lidder valley,
Amarnath stands at 3,888 m. It is 363 kms. from Jammu Via Pahalgam and about 414
kms. Via Baltal. It is on the distance of
44.8 km from Pahalgam and 141 km from Srinagar .
Though the original pilgrimage subscribes that
the yatra be undertaken from Srinagar, the more common practice is to begin journey at Pahalgam,
and cover the distance to Amarnath and back in five days. Pahalgam is 96 kms from Srinagar.
The Legend about the importance of Amarnath Cave is as follows :-
is The Cave which was chosen by Bhole Shankar for narrating the secrets of
immortality and creation of Universe to Maa Parvati ji . The story goes like
this . Centuries ago Maa Parvati asked Shiv ji to let her know why and
when He started wearing the beads of heads ( Mund Mala) . Bhole Shankar
replied when ever you are born I add one more head in my beads . Maa Parvati
said ," My Lord, my body is destroyed every time and I die again and again,
but you are Immortal. Please let me know the secret of this ." Bhole Shankar
replied that it is due to Amar Katha ."
Maa Parvati insisted that she may be told that secret. For long Shiva ji continued postponing . Finally on consistent demand from Maa Parvati He made up his mind to tell the immortal secret . He started for lonely place where no living being could listen it . He choose Amarnath Cave . In preparation to that He left His Nandi ( The Bull which He used to ride ) at Pahalgam (Bail gaon) . At Chandanwari He released Moon from his hairs (Jataon). At the banks of Lake Sheshnag He released the snakes . He decided to leave his Son Ganesha at Mahagunas Parbat (Mahaganesh Hill ) . At Panjtarni, Shivji left the Five Elements behind (Earth , Water, Air , Fire and Sky) which make living being . He is the Lord of these elements. It is believed that as a symbol of sacrificing the earthly world , Shivji and Maa Parvati had Tandav Dance . After leaving behind all these, Bhole Shankar enters the Holy Amarnath Cave along with Parvati Maa . Lord Shiva takes his Samadhi on the Deer Skin and concentrate . To ensure that no living being is able to hear the Immortal Tale , He created Rudra named Kalagni and ordered him to spread fire to eliminate every living thing in and around the Holy Cave . After this He started narrating the secret of immortality to Maa Parvati . But as a 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).
Discovery of Holy Cave
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 . This made him overwhelmed with joy. He ran to thank the Saint . But,
what he found was that the Saint had disappeared . Instead , he found The
Holy Cave and Shiv Lingam there in . He announced the discovery of this to the
Villagers. Then onwards this has become the sacred place of Pilgrimage .
The ancient epics narrate an other story which goes like this. The valley of Kashmir was under water .It was a big lake. Kashyap Rishi drained the water through number of rivers and rivulets . In those days Bhrigu Rishi came that way on a visit to The Himalayas. He was the first to have Darshans of this Holy Cave . When people heard of 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.
The trek to Amarnath, in the month of sharavan ( 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, which 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 .
When To Take Up Yatra
The Amarnath Yatra is organized every year by the J &K Govt. during the month of sharavan ( July and August); the dates however , vary every year looking at the weather conditions and according to Purnima (Raksha Bandhan) in the month of Sharavan (Vikrama Samwat).
The climatic conditions are very uncertain . Rain or snowfall may take place at any time or place during the Yatra . It is to be particularly noted that abrupt changes in temperature might occur . Sunny weather may turn into rain / snow fall in a short time . The temperature may fall upto -5 degree C .
How to Perform Pilgrimage
For performing this Yatra, one is required to get registered . The registration is done by J &K Govt. Tourist Offices, located at Delhi , Mumbai, Calcutta, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Jammu and Srinagar.
Useful Tips on Yatra
The Yatra is organized by the Jammu & Kashmir Govt., in the month of Sharavan, and commences mainly from Pahalgam on specified dates. In recent years the route from Baltal has also been thrown open for the pilgrims to approach the holy Cave.
Dress : Pilgrims are advised to carry sufficient wollens such as sweaters, drawers, wollen trousers, monkey cap etc. Other items could include wind cheaters, rain coat, sleeping bag or blankets, umbrella, waterproof boots/shoes, walking stick, torch etc. Ladies are advised not to go on the trek in saris, instead pants or Salwar suits with drawers should be used.
Medical Assistance : Medical posts manned by qualified doctors and nursing staff are established enroute to cater to the needs of the pilgrims, free of cost. However, pilgrims are advised to carry along any medicines specifically prescribed for them.
Provisions : Essential rations are available at fair price rates from the specially established Govt. Depots at Chandanwari, Sheshnag and Panchtami, Numerous wayside tea-shops and small restaurants are set up by private parties. However, pilgrims are advised to carry with them biscuits, toffees, tinned food etc. to cater to their immediate needs. Firewood or gas can be obtained at Chandanwari, Sheshnag (Wawajan), Panchtami and near the Cave.
Insurance : In view of the hazardous nature, pilgrims are advised to insure themselves before proceeding on the Yatra.
Registration : Registration of pilgrims are undertaken about a month ahead of the date fixed for commencement of Yatra. The dates are generally notified through press advertisements. No Yatri will be allowed to proceed on the journey without a Registration Card.
Sri Krishna Holidays
CSC-9 DDA Mkt.
A-4 Paschim Vihar
New Delhi-110063 India.
Ph: (011) 25256949 ; 25273819 ; 25263766
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