Amarnath temple is situated in Jammu & Kashmir state in north India. The temple is considered as one of the important part of Hinduism. The temple is made in the form of a cave which is 19 metres long, 16 metres wide and 11 metres high. The temple is dedicated to God Shiva. One has to cover a distance of 45 KM to reach the temple. This travelling is known as Amarnath Yatra which opens for only 45 days in a year in the month of July and August. The place is known as Amarnath or Amreshwara because God Shiva told Godess Parvati about Amaratva or immortality here.
Main Attraction of Sacred Cave
The main attraction of this holy cave is the natural Shiv-linga made of natural ice. This is also called as Swayambhu because this is made of natural ice. The Shiva-linga reaches a height of around 10feet. Millions of people from all over the world come here to see the holy Shiva-linga in the holy cave. The size of Shiva-linga changes as per the size of moon which happens for the whole month of saavan Asher Hindu calendar. The Shiva-linga attains the full height on Shravan Poornima and starts decreasing in height till amavasya. There are also idols of Godess Parvati, Ganesha and Bhairava made of ice at some distance from the Shiva-linga.
The historical importance of this cave is that God Shiva told Godess Parvati the story of immortality or amarkatha here. After listening to the story sadhojat Shuk-Shishoo became immortal in the form of Shukdeva. Two pegions also hears this story and became immortal. These two pegions can also be seen here during the time period.
It is believed that When God Shiva was telling the story to Godess Parvati then He released many small snakes at Anantnaag. The sandalwood of His forehead at Chandanbadi,The sheshnaag of the neck at Sheshnaag and pissoo at pissootop. These place still exist there during the Yatra and are known with these names. A Muslim shepherd first came to know about this cave in the 16 century. Today also his family receives 25% of the offerings coming here.
There are two ways to complete this Yatra. One starts from Pehelgaam and another one from Sonmarg Baltaal. The route from pehelgaam is simple and convenient. The route from Sonmarg is just 14 KM but it is very difficult and has security concerns also. People following this route do it at their own risk and also govt of India is not responsible for any mishap on this route.
Pehelgaam is at a distance of 315 KM from Jammu. The Yatra on foot starts from here. The first stop is at Chandanbadi which is at 8 KM from Pehelgaam. The devotees spend the first night here. On the next morning, they resume the Yatra for Pissoo Ghati along Lidder river. This part of Yatra is simple as compared to the rest of the Yatra.
The next stop from Chandanbadi is Sheshnaag. The route is dangerous and has steep height. One can see pissoo ghati here. This area is very dangerous. There are many beautiful lakes of blue water coming out of hills. The devotees spend night here and resume their third day Yatra from here.
Panchtarni is at a distance of 8 miles from Sheshnaag. One has to cross Baivwell and Mahagunass on the way to Sheshnaag. The place gets its name because of five small rivers flowing here. It is surrounded by high hills from all the sides. The devotees have to be extra careful here because of lack of oxygen at this place.
The holy cave is at a distance of only 8KM from here. The whole of route is filled with ice all along the way. This route is very difficult. One forgets all the tiredness as soon as he reaches the holy cave and attains spiritual bliss on witnessing the the Shiva-linga made of natural ice.
Preparing for Travel
Devotees are advised to keep with them warm clothes, medicines and light snacks in adequate amount. It is also advised to keep torch, match, fireworks, polythene. Also to keep following the directions from security forces and advisory from govt of India.