Shri Amarnath Cave Temple

An Overview Of The Sacred Amarnath Cave

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.

Reaching The Holy Cave

Devotees take different ways to Amarnath Cave darshan. The three ways are from Srinagar, Jammu or Pahalgam. You can reach the first part of the journey by:

 

  • Air: The nearest airport is in Srinagar. You can avail a flight from Delhi and Jammu to come to Srinagar. There is also weekdays flight that picks up passengers Chandigarh and Amritsar.
  • Rail: Jammu is the nearest railway station on the way to Amarnath cave
  • Road: Srinagar and Jammu are well connected by roads, and this part of the journey can be availed through buses and taxies. The mode of transportation can be hired on daily as well on full tour basis.
  • From Pahalgam- The Traditional Route: You can reach the Pahalgam either from Srinagar or Jammu. You can take a bus, taxi or hire car to reach Pahalgam from Srinagar or Jammu. Once you are in Pahalgam, then you have to take road transport to reach Chandanwari. The devotees can camp either at Pahalgam or Chandanwari.

    From Chandanwari, the devotees climb the slope to Pissu Top, which is said to made of the dead bodies of the Rakshas that Lord Shiva killed.

    From Chandanwari, the pilgrims follow a steep incline to Sheshnag. The whole route has intact wild scenery with pouring stream on one side. The place got its name from the Seven Peaks. The shape of the peaks resembles the head of a mythical snake.

    From Sheshnag, the pilgrims have to cover the steep height of about 4.6 km to reach Panchtarni. This is the last resort to the Holy Amarnath Cave. High altitude might lead to the need for oxygen, and the weather is quite cold there.

    Panchtarni and the Amarnath Cave is located at a distance of about 6 km. As there is no place to stay, the journey starts early in the morning so, that you can come back to the base camp within time. The entire route is filled with scenic beauty.

  • From Baltal- The New Route: Another new route to Amarnath cave is from Baltal, which has a distance of 14 km from the caves. The distance of 400km from Jammu to Baltal can be travelled by taxi or bus. From there, pilgrims can either take ponies or travel by foot to cover the journey from Baltal to Amarnath. The journey from Baltal is much narrower and steeper from the journey to Pahalgam.

    You can also take a helicopter from Pahalgam to Panchtarni if you want to complete the journey in one day.

 

Other Places Of Attraction Near Amarnath

Hampi’s architectural ruins attract tourists from all over India. The charm of the place is lies giant temple and among the dilapidated monuments that is of ancient origins. While, you are in Hampi there are also various other sites that you can explore apart from Virupaksha Temple timing and holds equal importance in the grandeur history of the country. Apart from the Virupaksha temple there are also:

  • Chandramouliswara Temple and Badavilinga Temple: Dedicated to lord Shiva. Devotees of Lord Shiva also pay a visit to these two temples.
  • Monkey Temple in Hampi: Situated in Anjeyanadri Hill.
  • Monkey Temple in Hampi: Situated in Anjeyanadri Hill.
  • Pattabhirama Temple: The major temple of the place is full of delicate Hazara Rama designs which show the architectural influence of the place. This temple dedicated to Hindu god Ram and is also famous for its intricate designs.
  • Prasanna Virupaksha: An underground temple, which is dedicated to an incarnation of Lord Shiva.
  • Saraswati Temple: It lies in the ruins of the Vijayanagara Empire.
  • Kadalekalu Ganesha: It is a unique monument made of stone.
  • Tungabhadra River: Hampi situated in the banks of this river.
  • Hazara Rama Temple: The temple significant as it is one of the private temples of the kings of the Vijayanagara Empire. The reigning deity of the temple is Lord Ram. The panels and the bas relics of the temple depict the story of Ramayana.
  • Royal Enclosure: When you are done with visiting the temples, you can pay a visit to the Royal Enclosure, which is a fortified area spreading across miles of land. The place was the seat of power of the Vijayanagara Empire and attracts the tourists even in its dilapidated condition. It has some of the imposing structures like King’s Audience Hall and Dassera platform.
  • Achyuta Raya Temple: The temple stands as an example of the Vijayanagara style of architectural designs.

There are also other temples that are dedicated to Ganesha, Rama, Krishna and Vishnu that are located in Hampi.

 

Legend Of The Temple

The Amarnath Cave history holds the reference to the legendary king of history, King Aryaraja during 300BCE. He used to worship a lingam made of ice in the valley of Kashmir. There is also a book called Rajatarnagini that mentions to Amreshwara of Amarnath. It is also believed that Queen Suryamathi during the 11th century AD gifted sacred emblems like trishuls, banalingas to the temple. Rajavalipataka, which was begun by Prjayabhatta, has detailed references to the pilgrimage to Amarnath Cave. Moreover, there are many references to this pilgrimage in other ancient scriptures.

There is also an ancient epic that narrate another story, which says, the valley of Kashmir was under water and was a big lake. Kashyap Rishi let the water out through many rivulets and rivers. In those days Bhrigu Rishi, who came to visit the Himalayas, first paid the Darshans of this Holy Cave. When people heard of the Lingam, Amarnath became Lord Shiva’s holy abode and a Centre of pilgrimage.