Shri Amarnath temple , Jammu and Kashmir
Shri Amarnath cave temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. An enshrined image of ice naturally formed in a cylindrical form which resembles Lord Shivlinga, begins to take its shape on the first day of the bright half of the month and reaches its full size on the full moon day (Poornima). After getting its fullest shape, it begins to wane and disappear on the new moon day.
According to the tradition, the largest ice formation is considered as Lord Shiva Linga, one on the left side of the linga is an ice formation of Lord Ganesha, and on the right are formations of Parvati and Bhairava. The Amarnath temple is around 46 kms from Pahalgam in Jammu and Kashmir and 4500 mt. above the sea level. The time of pilgrimage to this holy shrine is between July and August. This is an annual event when thousands of Hindus from different corners of the Globe visit Amarnath caves.
History of the temple
There is no clear cut information of the discovery of the cave. The credit of discovery goes to a shepherd (Gujar) Buta Malik, it is said that he was given a bag full of coal by a saint. When the shepherd opened to see in his house it was a bag full of gold. The happy shepherd went back to thank the saint but found a cave with a lingam inside it. . Then onwards this place has become the sacred place of Pilgrimage
Another legend says that Kashyap a sage drained the lake of Kashmir and found the cave along with the lingam in it.
Hindu mythology says that this Amarnath cave is the cave which was used by Lord Shiva to tell about the secret of life and eternity to Goddess Parvathi. He was looking for a secret isolated place to tell this "amar katha" to goddess Parvathi. So he selected this cave. And as a preparation he left his vehicle Nandi, the bull in Pahalgam (Bhail Gaow), released the moon at Chandanwari, snake at Lake Sheshnag, Lord Ganesh at Mahagunas parvat, five elements of life at Panjitarni. Finally he created Rudra (Kalagni) and ordered him to set afire and eliminate every living thing in and around the holy cave. Then Lord Shiva took Parvathi Goddess inside the cave to tell the amar katha.
Every year lakhs of pilgrims visit this holy shrine. The yathra to Amarnath begins at Srinagar on the month of shravan. Subsequent halts are at Avantipur, Brijbihara, Martand, Pahalgam, Chandanwadi, Wavjan and the Mahagunus Pass. From here, the Amarnath cave is reached on the full moon day, and the pilgrimage is complete, the more common practice is to begin the journey from Pahalgam.
Shri Amarnath Welfare Committee undertakes welfare activities regarding provision for boarding and lodging facilities free of cost on the route to the cave shrine.
How to Reach
By Air : The nearest aerodrome is Srinagar. Srinagar is a beautiful valley having world famous sights to see, such as Dal Lake, Nagina Lake, Shankaracharya Temple, Mughal Gardens and what not. It is the most sought after tourist place. It is also known as "Paradise on earth". Srinagar is summer capital of Jammu & Kashmir. There are daily flights to Srinagar from Delhi and Jammu. On some week days flights also pickup passengers from Chandigarh and Amritsar .
By Rail : Jammu is the nearest Railway Station . Jammu is winter Capital of Jammu & Kashmir. Jammu is a beautiful city and is also known as "CITY OF TEMPLES". One may visit old temples such as Raghunath Temple , Mahadev Mandir and other temples . It is well connected with all stations of India.The various trains coming to Jammu are listed here below.
By Road : Jammu and Srinagar are also connected through road. Buses and Taxies are also available for this part of the journey. These can be hired on daily as well as full tour basis