Amarnath Temple

Post 4565

Amarnath Temple

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
AMARNATH CAVE
Cave Temple of Lord Amarnath.jpg
Amarnath Cave is located in Jammu and Kashmir
Amarnath Cave
Amarnath Cave

Location in Jammu and Kashmir

NAME
PROPER NAME Amarnath Cave Temple
GEOGRAPHY
COORDINATES 34.2149°N 75.5008°ECoordinates: 34.2149°N 75.5008°E
COUNTRY India
STATE Jammu and Kashmir
LOCATION Pahalgam, Anantnag
CULTURE
PRIMARY DEITY Shiva
HISTORY AND GOVERNANCE
CREATOR Natural formation
WEBSITE www.shriamarnathjishrine.com
Amarnath Cave

Amarnath cave (Hindi: अमरनाथ गुफा) is a Hindu shrine located in Jammu and Kashmir, India. It is dedicated to Shiva. The cave is situated at an altitude of 3,888 m (12,756 ft), about 141 km (88 mi) from Srinagar, the capital of Jammu and Kashmir and reached through Pahalgam town. The shrine forms an important part ofHinduism, and is considered to be one of the holiest shrines in Hinduism. The cave is surrounded by snowy mountains. The cave itself is covered with snow most of the year except for a short period of time in summer when it is open for pilgrims. Thousands of Hindu devotees make an annual pilgrimage to the Amarnath cave on challenging mountainous terrain to see an ice stalagmite formed inside the cave.

The Linga

 

Ice Lingam at Amarnath Cave

Inside the 40 m (130 ft) high Amarnath cave, the stalagmite is formed due to freezing of water drops that fall from the roof of the cave on to the floor and grows up vertically from the cave floor. It is considered to be a Shiva Lingaby Hindus. The Cave waxes during May to August, as snow melts in the Himalayas above the cave and the resultant water seeps into the rocks that form the cave and gradually wanes thereafter. As per the religious beliefs, it has been claimed that the lingam grows and shrinks with the phases of the moon reaching its height during the summer festival, although there is no scientific evidence for this belief.

Accordin

History

The Amarnath cave has been a place of worship since times immemorial. There are references to the legendary kingAryaraja (ascribed dates 300 BCE) who used to worship a lingam formed of ice in Kashmir. The book Rajatarangini (Book VII v.183) refers to Amareshwara or Amarnath. It is believed that Queen Suryamathi in the 11th century AD gifted trishuls, banalingas and other sacred emblems to this temple. Rajavalipataka, begun by Prjayabhatta has detailed references to the pilgrimage to Amarnath Cave. Other than this, there are further references to this pilgrimage in many other ancient texts.

Discovery of Holy Cave

It is believed that after the Middle Ages, this cave was forgotten by people before it was discovered by a shepherd in the 15th century once again.

Another story relates to Bhrigu Muni. Long time ago it is believed that The Vale of Kashmir was submerged under water and Kashyapa Muni drained it through a series of rivers and rivulets. Therefore when the waters drained, Bhrigu Muni was the first to have Darshan of Lord Amarnath. Thereafter, when people heard of the Lingam, it became an abode of Lord Bholenath for all believers and a pilgrimage which is done by lakhs of people each year.

Yatra

 

Amarnath Yatra Camp.

The temple is a popular yatra destination for Hindus. In 2011 it received about 634,000 persons, the highest recorded number for the site. The number was 622,000 in 2012 and 350,000 in 2013. Pilgrims visit the holy site during the 45-day season around the festival of Shravani Mela in July–August, coinciding with the Hindu holy month of Shraavana.

The beginning of the annual pilgrimage, called Amarnath Yatra is marked by ‘pratham pujan’ to invoke the blessings of Shri Amarnathji.

In 2015, the Yatra would commence on July 2 and end after 59 days on August 29.

Route

 

Amarnath pilgrims en route the holy shrine

Devotees travel on foot, either from Srinagar or from Pahalgam. The latter journey takes approximately 5 days.

The State Road Transport Corporation and Private Transport Operators provide the regular services from Jammu to Pahalgam and Baltal. Also privately hired taxis are available from Jammu & kashmir.

Pilgrims riding ponies on the way to Amarnath Cave

The shorter northern route is just about 16 km long, but has a very steep gradient and is quite difficult to climb. It starts from Baltal and passes through Domial, Barari, and Sangam to reach the cave. The northern route is along the Amarnath valley and all along the route one can see the river Amaravathy (It is more like a tributary of Chenab) which originates from Amarnath Glacier.

It is believed that Lord Shiva left Nandi, The Bull, at Pahalgam (Bail Gaon). At Chandanwari, he released the Moon from his hair (Jataon). On the banks of Lake Sheshnag, he released his snakes. At Mahagunas Parvat (Mahaganesh Mountain), he left his son Lord Ganesha. At Panjtarni, Lord Shiva left behind the five elements – Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Sky. As a symbol of sacrificing the earthly world, Lord Shiva performed the Tandava Dance. Then, finally, Lord Shiva entered the Holy Amarnath Cave along with Parvati.

On way to Amarnath Cave

 

Facilities

En route the cave, various non-profit organizations set up food supply and resting tents called pandals which are available for free to the pilgrims. Near the shrine, hundreds of tents which are erected by locals can be hired for a night’s stay. Helicopter services from base camp to Panjtarni (6 km from the cave) are also available from various private operators.

Security

Every year, thousands of central police and state police personnel are deployed to provide security to pilgrims from potential terror threats. The forces position at various halts and also in the perimeter of the shrine.

Pandals in service to the pilgrims

Deaths

Of the 622,000 yatra pilgrims in 2012, 130 died during the yatra. The major cause was attributed to persons who were not physically fit for the arduous climb, high elevations, and adverse weather undertook the yatra. Some also died in road accidents before reaching the base camp from where the yatra starts. Of the 130 deaths, 88 were due to purported health reasons and 42 in road accidents. The 2012 pilgrimage ended on Shravana Purnima (Raksha Bandan) Day, 2 August 2012.

Organisers

Officially, the Yatra is organised by the State Government in collaboration with the Shree Amarnath Yatra trust. The Government agencies provide necessary facilities all along the route during the Yatra period, which includes provision of ponies, supply of power, telecommunication facilities, firewood and setting up of fair price shops.

Helicopter service up to panjtarni on route to Amarnath Cave

1990s problems

The pilgrimage was banned from 1991 to 1995 due to threats from militants. In 1996 the militants had assured that they would not interfere allowing a resumed yatrawith far greater numbers than in previous years. However, unseasonal blizzards in late August of that year led to a tragedy that claimed the lives of 242 yatris, killed by exhaustion and exposure.

2000 massacre

Four years later, the pilgrimage suffered another setback with the massacre inPahalgam of 30 people by Kashmiri separatist militants.Most were yatris on their way to Amarnath or porters and horsemen who would have ferried the pilgrims to the site. Then Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee blamed Lashkar-e-Taiba for the killings.

Tents are available to hire for a small fee near base of imposing Amarnath Cave as visible in background

Controversies

2008 Land transfer controversy

On 26 May 2008, the Government of India and the state government of Jammu and Kashmir reached an agreement to transfer 100 acres (0.40 km2) of forest land to the Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) to set up temporary shelters and facilities for Hindu pilgrims. Kashmiri separatists opposed the move citing reasons that it will jeopardize the article 370 that gives separate identity to the people of Jammu and Kashmir and prevents any Indian citizen to settle in Kashmir. People in Kashmir staged widespread protests against this decision by government of India. Due to the protests, the J&K State government relented and reversed the decision to transfer land. As a result, Hindus in the Jammu region launched counter-agitations against this roll back.

Glacier over Lidder Riverin Chandanwari on the way to Amarnath Temple.

Environmental destruction

Environmentalists have expressed concern that the number of people participating in the Amarnath Yatra is having a negative impact on the area’s ecology and some have expressed support for government regulated limits on the number of pilgrims permitted to make the trek.

Amarnath yatra tax controversy

The Government of Jammu and Kashmir had in 2010 issued a notification under the State Motor Vehicle Taxation Act 1957, under which vehicles going to Amarnath Yatra will have to pay a tax of Rs 2,000 for seven days and Rs 2,000 per day after that.Similar provisions were made for pilgrims going to Sri Mata Vaishno Devi under which they need to pay Rs 2000 for a period of three days.India’s central political party the Bhartiya Janata Party expressed its ire over imposition of entry fee and accused the then UPA led central government to direct the Jammu and Kashmir dispensation to desist from making attempts to “discriminate” between followers of various religions.BJP criticized the decision “as a reminiscent of Jaziya imposed during Mughal period on Hindus,” In response to the question in Lok Sabha( Lower house of the Indian Parliament) then Minister of State for Finance, Shri S.S. Palanimanickam clarified that tax is levied on all All India Tourist Vehicles entering the state and is therefore not correct to say that Government of Jammu & Kashmir is levying any additional tax on vehicles going to Amarnath and Vaishno Devi.He also said that Taxation of Motor vehicles falls under the purview of State Governments as per the seventh schedule of Constitution of India and Central Government cannot direct the State Government to change the tax rate on vehicles.

 Amarnath: Journey to the shrine of a Hindu god

http://www.boston.com/bigpicture/2012/07/amarnath_journey_to_the_shrine.html

Each year, Hindu devotees make a pilgrimage to the sacred Amarnath Cave, one of the most revered Hindu shrines, near Baltal, Kashmir, India. The Amarnath Cave has been a place of worship since times immemorial, with references found in many ancient texts. According a Hindu legend, this is the cave where Shiva explained the secret of life and eternity to his divine consort Parvati. The cave itself is covered with snow most times of the year except for a short period in summer when it is open for pilgrims. The cave is situated at an altitude of 3,888 m (12,756 ft). Hindu devotees brave sub-zero temperatures to hike over glaciers and high altitude mountain passes to reach the sacred Amarnath cave, which houses an ice stalagmite, worshiped by Hindus as a symbol of the god Shiva. More than 700,000 Hindu pilgrims are expected to take part in this year’s two-month pilgrimage, according to local officials, causing strain on the environment and political stability of the region, which has long fought for independence from India. — Paula Nelson (46 photos total)

Indian Hindu pilgrims rest at the beginning of the traditional journey to the Amarnath cave, near Chandanwari, 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Srinagar, India. Thousands of pilgrims annually go to the remote Himalayan shrine of Amarnath at 3,888 meters (12,756 feet) above sea level to worship an icy stalagmite representing Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction, June 27, 2012. (Kevin Frayer/Associated Press)

Hindu pilgrims, at a glacial campsite, proceed on the final stretch of their journey leading to the Amarnath Cave, June 27, 2012. Every year, hundreds of thousands of pilgrims trek through treacherous mountains in revolt-torn Kashmir, along icy streams, glacier-fed lakes and frozen passes, to reach the Amarnath cave, located at an altitude of 3,857 meters (12,729 feet), where a Shiva Lingam, an ice stalagmite shaped as a phallus and symbolizing the Hindu God Shiva, stands for worship. (Strstrdel/AFP/GettyImages) #

Indian Hindu pilgrims bathe in a glacial stream during the traditional journey to the Amarnath cave. Thousands of pilgrims annually go to the remote Himalayan shrine of Amarnath to worship an icy stalagmite representing Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction, June 28, 2012. (Kevin Frayer/Associated Press) #

Indian Hindu holy man dries out his clothing after bathing in a glacial stream during the traditional journey to the Amarnath cave, June 27, 2012. (Kevin Frayer/Associated Press) #

Indian Hindu pilgrims pray during a rest in the traditional journey to the Amarnath cave, near Chandanwari, June 27, 2012.(Kevin Frayer/Associated Press) #

An Indian Hindu holy man walks with others during the traditional journey to the Amarnath cave, June 28, 2012. (Kevin Frayer/Associated Press) #

An Indian Hindu holy man wearing little clothing walks down a snowy hill during the traditional journey to the Amarnath cave, June 28, 2012. (Kevin Frayer/Associated Press) #

Hindu pilgrims are carried on palanquins by Kashmiri bearers over a glacier near the sacred Amarnath Cave, one of the most revered Hindu shrines, June 29, 2012, near Baltal, Kashmir, India. Hindu devotees brave sub-zero temperatures to hike over glaciers and high altitude mountain passes to reach the sacred Amarnath cave, which houses an ice stalagmite, a stylized phallus, worshiped by Hindus as a symbol of the god Shiva. More than 700,000 Hindu pilgrims are expected to take part in this year’s two-month pilgrimage, according to local officials, causing strain on the environment and political stability of the region, which has long fought for independence from India. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) #

Hindu pilgrims makes their pilgrimage to the sacred Amarnath Cave, one of the most revered Hindu shrines, on June 28, 2012. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) #

Hindu pilgrims walk along a mountain path as they make their pilgrimage to the sacred Amarnath Cave, one of the most revered Hindu shrines, June 30, 2012. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) #

A Hindu pilgrim is carried on a palanquin by Kashmiri bearers over a glacier on her way to the sacred Amarnath Cave, June 29, 2012. More than 700,000 Hindu pilgrims are expected to take part in this year’s two-month pilgrimage, according to local officials. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) #

Hindu pilgrims cross a waterfall as they make their pilgrimage to the sacred Amarnath Cave, June 28, 2012. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) #

Hindu pilgrims with the assistance of Kashmiri guides, make their pilgrimage to the sacred Amarnath Cave, June 30, 2012 near Baltal, Kashmir, India. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) #

Hindu devotees brave sub-zero temperatures to hike over glaciers and high altitude mountain passes to reach the sacred Amarnath cave, JUne 28, 2012. More than 700,000 Hindu pilgrims are expected to take part in this year’s two-month pilgrimage, according to local officials, causing strain on the environment and political stability of the region, which has long fought for independence from India. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) #

A Kashmiri guide yawns as he and others wait with their horses to transport Hindu pilgrims to the Amarnath Cave at the camp in Baltal, June 28, 2012 near Baltal, Kashmir, India. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) #

A Hindu pilgrim is carried on a palanquin by Kashmiri bearers over a glacier on her way to the sacred Amarnath Cave, June 29, 2012. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) #

Hindu pilgrims walk along a mountain trail during their pilgrimage, June 30, 2012. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) #

Hindu pilgrims watch the lifeless body of a Hindu pilgrim, killed in an accident as he was thrown off a horse and off the side of the mountain, be carried by Kashmiri guides down to the Baltal Camp, June 28, 2012. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) #

A Hindu pilgrim is assisted uphill by guides as he makes his pilgrimage to the sacred Amarnath Cave, June 28, 2012 near Baltal, Kashmir, India. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) #

Hindu pilgrims walk along a mountain trail, June 30, 2012. Hindu devotees brave sub-zero temperatures to hike over glaciers and high altitude mountain passes to reach the sacred Amarnath cave. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) #

An Indian Hindu man carries his child during the traditional journey to the Amarnath cave, near Shashnag, 115 kms (71 miles) from Srinagar, India. Thousands of pilgrims annually go to the remote Himalayan shrine of Amarnath at 3,888 m (12,756 ft) above sea level to worship an icy stalagmite representing Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction. (Kevin Frayer/Associated Press) #

A young Hindu pilgrim cries as he struggles along the path as he walks with is family during their pilgrimage to the sacred Amarnath Cave, June 28, 2012 near Baltal, Kashmir, India. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) #

An Indian Hindu Holy man gestures to well-wishers as he is carried down a trail during the traditional journey to the Amarnath cave, June 28, 2012. Thousands of pilgrims annually go to the remote Himalayan shrine of Amarnath at 3,888 m (12,756 ft) above sea level to worship an icy stalagmite representing Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction. (Kevin Frayer/Associated Press) #

Young Hindu pilgrims wait on horses during a traffic jam on a path as they are guided by Kahsmiri men during their pilgrimage to the sacred Amarnath Cave, one of the most revered Hindu shrines, June 28, 2012 near Baltal, Kashmir, India. More than 700,000 Hindu pilgrims are expected to take part in this year’s two-month pilgrimage. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) #

Hindu pilgrims cross a glacier during their pilgrimage, June 28, 2012 near Baltal, Kashmir, India. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) #

An Indian Army soldier directs Hindu pilgrims and their Kashmiri guides, as they make their pilgrimage to the sacred Amarnath Cave, June 30, 2012. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) #

An Indian Hindu holy man stands near a statue of Lord Shiva during the traditional journey to the Amarnath cave, near Chandanwari, 100 kms (62 miles) from Srinagar, India. Thousands of pilgrims annually go to the remote Himalayan shrine of Amarnath. (Kevin Frayer/Associated Press) #

Kashmiri laborers carry a Indian Hindu pilgrim on a trail during the traditional journey to the Amarnath cave, June 28, 2012. Thousands of pilgrims annually go to the remote Himalayan shrine of Amarnath at 3,888 m (12,756 ft) above sea level to worship an icy stalagmite representing Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction. (Kevin Frayer/Associated Press) #

Indian Hindu holy men smoke marijuana as they take a break during the traditional journey, June 27, 2012. (Kevin Frayer/Associated Press) #

An Indian Hindu pilgrim uses a flashlight as he arrives in the camp late during the traditional journey to the Amarnath cave, June 27, 2012. Thousands of pilgrims annually go to the remote Himalayan shrine. (Kevin Frayer/Associated Press) #

A Sadhu, finishes off a meal at a Lungar facility providing free food to pilgrims, as Hindu’s make their pilgrimage to the sacred Amarnath Cave, one of the most revered Hindu shrines, June 29, 2012 near Baltal, Kashmir, India. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) #

Hindu holy men and pilgrims celebrate at a campsite during their pilgrimage, June 29, 2012. (Daniel Berehulak/Getty Images) #

Indian Hindu pilgrims cross a bridge, June 29, 2012. Thousands of pilgrims annually go to the remote Himalayan shrine of Amarnath. (Kevin Frayer/Associated Press) #

Indian Hindu pilgrims wait to enter the trails during the traditional journey to the Amarnath cave, near Shashnag, 115 kms (71 miles) from Srinagar, India. (Kevin Frayer/Associated Press) #

A Kashmiri horseman leads Indian Hindu pilgrims on horseback across a stream during the traditional journey to the Amarnath cave, June 28, 2012. (Kevin Frayer/Associated Press) #

A Kashmiri porter carries blankets to be used by Hindu pilgrims during the traditional journey to the Amarnath cave, June 29, 2012. Thousands of pilgrims annually go to the remote Himalayan shrine. (Kevin Frayer/Associated Press) #

An Indian security force officer lifts a young boy safely over a dangerous part of the trail as he leaves following the traditional journey to the Amarnath cave, June 30, 2012. (Kevin Frayer/Associated Press) #

Indian Hindu pilgrims cross ice and snow during the traditional journey to the Amarnath cave, June 29, 2012. (Kevin Frayer/Associated Press) #

Kashmiri porters carry an Indian Hindu pilgrim on a trail as they approach the Amarnath cave, June 30, 2012. (Kevin Frayer/Associated Press) #

Kashmiri porters carry an Indian Hindu pilgrim, June 30, 2012. Thousands of pilgrims annually go to the remote Himalayan shrine of Amarnath. (Kevin Frayer/Associated Press) #

Indian Hindu holy men react as they are held back by police as they line up to enter the Amarnath cave, JUne 29, 2012. (Kevin Frayer/Associated Press) #

A young Indian Hindu pilgrim boy tries to squeeze past police as he and others line up to enter the Amarnath cave, June 29, 2012. (Kevin Frayer/Associated Press) #

Indian Hindu pilgrims line up to enter the Amarnath cave to view the icy stalagmite representing Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction, June 29, 2012. (Kevin Frayer/Associated Press) #

An Indian Hindu pilgrim helps others over a dangerous part of the trail as they leave following the traditional journey to the Amarnath cave, June 30, 2012. (Kevin Frayer/Associated Press) #

Many Hindu pilgrims continue to make their long journey to the Amarnath cave, July 7, 2012. (Channi Anand/Associated Press) #

Base camp of Amarnath cave bound Hindu pilgrims lies near Baltal, about 110 kilometers (69 miles) from Srinagar, India. Thousands of pilgrims annually go to the remote Himalayan shrine of Amarnath at 3,888 meters (12,756 feet) above sea level to worship an icy stalagmite representing Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction. (Channi Anand/Associated Press) #

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