The cave of Amarnath is a sacred Hindu temple, which is about 141 km from Srinagar and is situated in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. You can reach here via the Pahalgam town. The cave holds special significance to the Hindus. History has it that Lord Shiva found the Amarnath cave to narrate Mata Parvati the Amar Katha. It is said that the cave was forgotten after the Middle Ages, until it was again discovered by a shepherd in the 15th century.
Spiritual, Cultural And Religious Significance Of The Cave:
The Hindus have worshipped the Amarnath Cave Jammu, since time immemorial, and it is rich with spiritual, religious and cultural significance. The significance of the cave concludes the fact that Lord Shiva represents the soul and Mata Parvati the body. The soul remains immortal, and the body perishes. The soul is defined as the energized form of information and memory. Thousands of Hindu devotees visit the Amarnath cave annually, and it is religiously believed that the ice lingam inside the cave grows and shrinks as per the different phases of the moon.
Knowing The Presiding Deity:
The cave is dedicated to Lord Shiva as he is known to have made his abode in the Himalayas. Lord Shiva is a living God and is considered as one of most important God of the Hindus. As per the hymns of Yajurveda, Shiva is described as an ascetic warrior, Who wears robes made of Deer skin and carries a Trishul. He is the most ancient God as Vedic hymns testify His presence. And the civilizations of Harappa and Mohenjodaro have confirmed the findings of worshipping the deity.
Details Of The Linga:
The Amarnath Cave image is considered holy for the Hindus has recorded no idol worship. Instead, of an idol, inside the cave a stalagmite of ice is formed due to the freezing of water droplets. The water droplets fall from the roof of the cave on the floor and grow vertically into a huge block of ice. The block of ice is considered as the Shiva Linga by the Hindus. The cave waxes in the month of May to August because the snow melts above the cave from the Himalayas and seeps through the rock of the cave and then gradually wanes afterwards.
Any Other Shrines Present Within The Complex:
Since the Amarnath cave is a natural cave and not made by any human being, so there are no other shrines located on the same premises. But, there is two other lingam, which is present in the cave signifies Mata Parvati and her son Ganesha.
Special Religious Ritual Followed Before The Amarnath Yatra:
The annual pilgrimage or the Amaranth Yatra is connected with the centuries old traditional ritual, which starts with Bhoomi-Pujan in the month of shravana, in the occasion of Ashad Purnima in Pahalgam. The Bhoomi Pujan is followed by Navgrah Pujan and Dhawajarohan after which the commencement of the holy Yatra begins. The Bhoomi Pujan invokes the blessings of Shri Amarnathji. The holy pilgrimage of the Amarnath Yatra commences only after the holy ritual of Chhari Mubarak, the holy silver mace, which epitomizes the mystical powers of Lord Shiva. To mark the commencement of the Yatra, the Chhari Mubarak leaves Srinagar and goes to Pahalgam on Vyas Purnima to perform the Bhoomi Pujan. Before the Dhwajarohan ceremony, the Chhari Sthapana or the establishment of the chhari is executed. On the way to Amarnath Yatra, the Chhari camps in various destinations on the route from Pahalgam to Shashnag to Panchtarini to Amarnath.
Rituals Performed At the cave:
The worshipping rituals do not end with Dhwajarohan ceremony. The Chhari lodges in various places on the way to Amarnath. On Raksha Bandhan, the Chhari stays at the Amarnath cave where the Chhari Poojan is done. The sacred Chhari is then brought back to Pahalgam and immersed in the water of Lidder River. Devotees who take Pahalgam route for Amarnath Cave can complete their journey along this holy Chhari.
Pilgrimage Or The Amaranth Yatra:
The cave is a popular yatra or pilgrim site for the Hindus. The pilgrims visit the site during the month of July to August, a 45 day pilgrimage season around the festival of Shravani Mela, which coincides with the Hindu month Shravana.