Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Amarnath "Shiva Lingam"

Lord Shiva & Mata Parvati

Om Namah Shivay. I'm a devotee of Lord Shiva and will be forever but i haven't had a chance to visit one of the most holy places on earth called Amarnath. It's located in Jammu & Kashmir, India. Situated on Mount Amarnath, in the Himalayan Range there is a shrine dedicated to the god Shiva, which is said to be 5,000 years old.


Amarnath Shiva Lingam
This shrine is actually inside a cave, so it's also called Amarnath Cave. Inside this cave lies an ice stalagmite in the form of Shiv Linga, which waxes durin May to August and then it wanes gradually. This special lingam is said to grow and shrink with the phases of the moon. And it normally reaches it highest during the summer festival. This is the place, where it is said that, Lord Shiva explained the secret of life and eternity to his divine consort Parvati. ther a re two other formations of ice that represent Mother Parvati and Shiva's son Lord Ganesha.
Devotees on their pilgrimage
The cave is situated at an altitude of 3,888 m (12,756 ft), about 151 km from Srinagar, the capital of Jammu & Kashmir. The journey or 'yatra' (that's what it is called in Hindi) to this temple is famously known as the Amarnath Yatra. Normally nearly 300,000-400,000 people visit this beautiful and famous temple during the season time which is a normal 45 days. This sesaon comes around the festival of Shravani Mela in July-August which coincides with the Hindu holy month of Shraavana.
Route map
Devotees often take the pilgrimage on foot from the town of Pahalgam, about 96km from Srinagar, and cover the journey in four to five days.Some devotees, particularly the elderly people, also ride on horse-back to make the journey. but nowadays those who have money and can afford it, can now make the journey by helicopter. The climate conditions are very severe and uncertain. Rain or snowfall may take place at anytime or anyplace along the yatra. It is very common and one should be careful and prepared as there might be abrupt changes in temperature there. Sunny weather might turn into rain or heavy snowfall in a short time. The temperature may fall upto -5 degree C.

It's only one of its kind and will be forever like that. Many people keep visiting this place each year and as the time passes the number of devotees keeps increasing. Normally in past, the lingam used to stay frozen and give 'darshan' to all his devotees until  the journey or season ends but now this year, there has been a drastic change. The lingam melted 10 days before the yatra formally ends.This year has seen the highest number of devotees visiting Amarnath. It has not yet been a full month and nearly 600,000 pilgrims have so far visited the annual pilgrimage to the Lord Shiva's Amarnath cave. Authorities say that due to the increase in the number of devotees and high temperature, the 'ice lingam' has melted before time. Lots of camera flashes, burning of agarbathies and other human interferences were responsible for the melting of the lingam.

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