145 km from Srinagar, the holy shrine of Amarnath is situated at an altitude of 4,175 m above sea level. Covered by snow from September to June, the harsh weather conditions obstruct the path of the visitors and it is only accessible during the monsoons, from July to August. According to the popular legend, Lord Shiva distributed celestial nectar among the gods and made them immortal. The word 'Amarnath', thus means, 'Lord of Immortality'. There is a mention of this ancient shrine in the first historical treatise on India, Rajtarangini by Kalhana.
One of the most important Hindu pilgrimage centers of India,
the devotees believe that in every lunar month, the icy Shivalinga
in the cave of Amarnath begins to take its shape on the first day of the
bright half of the month. The Linga reaches its full size on the full
moon day and then begins to wane and disappear on the no moon day. The
Amarnath cave faces south and inside the cave, there are four to
five ice formations resembling figures of various deities. According to
the tradition, the largest one is accepted as Amarnath, one on its left
as Ganesha and ones on the right as Parvati and Bhairava respectively.
The 145-km trek from Srinagar to Amarnath cave is full of
adventures, beautiful landscapes, and pilgrimage sites. Due to the
accidents that have taken place in the past, now one can travel to the
place only under the vigil of Indian officials. The trek begins on the
fifth day of the bright half of the lunar calendar from Dashnami Akhada
in Srinagar. The first important pilgrimage site of the trek is Martand,
known for its ancient temple dedicated to the Sun God. There are famous
shrines of Bab-zain-ud-din Wali at Aishmuqam while Pahalgam
presents the confluence of the rivers Sheshnag and Liddar and a number
of Muslim shrines to the visitors.
Enroute are the famous temples of Anantnag, Deviangan, Bijbehara,
Akingam, Lukbhavan, and Nagdandi Ashram along with the
shrine of Baba Hyder Rishi situated Anantnag. Chandanwadi, is
again the confluence of the rivers Asthan Marg and Sheshnag while it is
believed that at Pishu Ghati, the Gods crushed the Demons. The
origin of the river of the same name, Sheshnag Lake is situated
at a height of about 12,000 feet above sea level. Wavjan lies
just before the steep climb to the Mahagunus Pass and is situated at an
altitude of 14,000 feet above sea level. It also marks the last climb in
the trek to Amarnath, after which there is a downy slope leading to
Panchatarni. The Amarnath Yatra, is so planned as to reach the
Amarnath cave on the full moon day.
Chari Saheb, the holy scepter, leads a procession starting form
Srinagar to Amarnath during the annual festival held here during the
Shravan month of the Hindu calendar. It is held to celebrate the
formation of ice Shivalinga on the full moon day.
Located 145 km from Srinagar, the holy shrine of Amarnath is a popular pilgrimage spot.