One of the holiest pilgrimage for Hindus is the Amarnath Yatra. Undertaken by lakhs of devotees every year, it involves an arduous trek up the Himalayas, to the shrine of the creator, preserver, and destroyer of the world-Lord Shiva.
Amarnath Yatra reaches its peak in the months of July/August, which coincides with the Hindu month of Shravana. The month is considered to be the holiest by the Hindus, especially by the devotees of Lord Shiva. It is during this period that the iced stalagmite Shiva Lingam reaches its full height. It is considered to be a physical manifestation of Lord Shiva.
Amarnath Temple is located in Jammu and Kashmir and is mostly covered by snow all year round. The yatra is known to promote religious harmony in communities, especially along the trek. At the same time, it is also an easy target for militants. The pilgrims are prepared, every year, to face not only an ambush but also the wrath of mother nature, who can create havoc without any warning.
A trek that could vary from 36 to 48 km, usually takes 3-5 days to complete one way. The Amarnath Yatra 2019 will take place from July 1 till August 15.
Mythological Significance Of The Temple
It is believed that in this cave, Lord Shiva narrated the formation of the universe and disclosed the secret of mortality to his consort, Parvati.
Places Of Religious Importance Along The Route To The Temple
Since Lord Shiva did not want anyone to overhear him telling the immortal secret to Goddess Parvati, so, on his way to the Amarnath cave, he started leaving behind even those who were always beside him.
Pahalgam (Bail gaon)-Lord Shiva had left his ‘vehicle’, Nandi, the Bull, here.
Chandanwari-He let go of the moon from his locks.
Lake Sheshnag-He released the snakes.
Mahagunas Parvat-He left His son, Ganesha, here.
Panjtarni-He left the five elements(Earth, Water, Air, Fire, and Sky) of wish He is the Lord.
Myth Around The Presence Of Pigeons In The Cave
Before Lord Shiva started narrating the secret of immortality to Parvati, He created Rudra and instructed him to destroy all living things around the cave by fire so that no one could overhear the secret. But, two eggs of a pigeon were present in the cave which were not harmed since eggs are neither living nor non-living. The fledglings heard the entire narration and gained immortality. Spotting the pigeons are considered to be extremely auspicious.
The Ice Lingam In The Cave
Lord Shiva is worshipped in the form of a ‘Lingam’. In the Amarnath Cave, a lingam forms naturally in the form of ice stalagmites. It is believed to grow and shrink with the changing phases of the moon. During the Shravan month, it is the largest in size. This is flanked by two small ice lingams, one representing Parvati and the other, their son, Ganesha.
Astrologically, the temple of Shiva is connected with Aries, a dominant male sign and Cancer, the sign of the moon and motherhood.