The pilgrimage is undertaken in the month of Shravan (July -August) each year and lasts for approximately 40 days. Thousands of pilgrims make an arduous trek up to the Amarnath cave, located at a height of 3,888 m in the Kashmir Himalayas through rocky terrains, snowy mountains under unpredictable weather conditions. They come to worship the sacred ice 'lingam' -a phallic symbol of Lord Shiva, which is a natural phenomenon and considered a miracle.
Amarnath yatra started in the year 1850 AD. Devotees believe that one can get salvation by witnessing 'Shiv lingam'. There are several legends behind its origin.
It was a Muslim shepherd, Buta Malik who discovered the cave and the naturally formed shiv lingam. According to popular belief, Buta malik was given a sack of coal by a sadhu. But when he open the sack at home, he found that it was full of gold. Overjoyed he went back to thank the sadhu but found the cave on the spot where they met. From then on the cave was venerated as a pilgrim centre and a representative from the Malik family would be present at the holy shrine along with the Hindu priest during the time of the pilgrimage.
It is said that Lord Shiva recounted the secret of creation to Parvati in this cave which was overheard by a pair of doves who became immortal and made this cave their eternal abode. Pilgrims still report seeing these doves at the cave. More details...
How to get there
Amarnath is situated 145-km from Srinagar. There are two routes to Amarnath, 1) via Pahalgam, Sheshnag and Panchtarni (48 kms long) takes 4 days to reach 2)the steeper route Via Baltal (15kms) takes two days. Ponies and Palanquins are available for pilgrims who are unable to climb. More details...
Festivals - Jammu and Kashmir