There are plenty of places in India, which have a glorious tradition of culture and religious faith. There are many prime temples visited by millions of people with immense faith. In the northern part of India Lord Shiva is worshipped while in the southern part of India there are people who worship Lord Vishnu.
Shiva is known to be residing in the Himalayas. Amarnath Temple is holy and sacred place in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, located in the northern India. The Temple is based in a cave known as Amarnath cave, the cave is at an altitude of about 12756 feet, located 141 km. from the capital of the state, Srinagar. The shrine, which is the holiest shrine forms an important part of Hinduism.
The cave is surrounded by snow for the most part of the year as the cave is in snowy mountain range. Only in summer the cave and the shrine is open to visitors for a short period of time. Thousands of devotees plan the pilgrimage to the cave during this period. The cave is 130 feet high inside, the stalagmite formed due to the frozen water droplets falling from the roof forms a structure similar to the Shiva lingam. This is formed naturally of ice-stalagmite. There are two other fascinating ice lingam there, one of Goddess Parvati and the other that of Shri Ganesha their son. The devotees throng to have a closer look at the Shivalinga. The prime motive being worship of the naturally formed Lingam.
The Ice Lingam formed in the Amarnath Cave starts waxing from the month of May as the heat rises. As per the mythological belief of Hindus the lingam in this cave grows and shrinks with the phases of the moon. As per the mythological stories it is this cave where Shiva recounted to Goddess Parvati the secret of creation, the secret of life and eternity. As per the mythology nobody was permitted to go in this seclusion, however a pair of pigeons sneaked through and heard this and learnt the secret, thus they are liberated from the cycle of rebirth.
It is believed that Shiva left Nandi at Bail Gaon in Pahalgam; he left Moon from hair on the banks of the lake, Lake Sheshnag, whereas the snakes worn by him were left at Mahagunas Parvat also known as Mahaganesh Mountain. He left his son Ganesh at panjtarni and also the five elements the Earth, Water, fire,Air and Sky before proceeding to the cave with Parvati for seclusion.
The trek to Amarnath shrine is treacherous yet thousands of devotees visit this shrine annually to see the ice- stalagmite lingam inside the cave. The devotees travel to the cave on foot from Pahalgam which is 45 km away. This journey is covered in almost 5 days. There are regular buses available from Jammu to Pahalgam, there are state transport as well as private operators’ buses available on this route. Though there is a shorter route of 16 km. but the same has steep gradient and is quite difficult.
There are many non-profit organizations who supply food and tents to the devotees en route. There are Helicopter services also available from different private operators for those who can afford which takes the devotees from base camp to Panjtarni which is around 6 km. from the cave.