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Pilgrimages of Jammu & Kashmir - Anantanag district
Amarnath in Liddar (or Lidder) Valley of Kashmir Himalayas (3888 m):
- An ancient cave pilgrimage of Shiva as well as a Shakti Peetha in Liddar Valley of Kashmir Himalayas: Amarnath (3888 m) is an ancient cave pilgrimage of Shiva as well as a Shakti Peetha situated in the farther end of the Liddar (or Lidder) Valley of Kashmir Himalayas. A natural Ice Shiva Lingam forms inside this cave every year. According to legend Lord Shiva told the Amar Katha (secret of Immortality) to Devi Parvati in this place. Amarnath is also identified as one of the Shakti Peethas known as Kashmira Shakti Peetha. Thousands of pilgrims undertake the annual Amarnath Yatra during the summer season. Amarnath Cave is reached by two trekking routes, one from Pahalgam which is the longer route and the other from Baltal which is the shorter route.
- Natural Ice Shiva Lingam: A natural ice Shiva Lingam forms inside this cave every year which is the main attraction of the pilgrimages.
- Amar Katha: According to legend Lord Shiva told the Amar Katha (secret of immortality) to Devi Parvati in this place. To ensure that nobody listens to this secret, Lord Shiva left His Nandi bull at Pahalgam, He released His Moon at Chandanwari, He released His snakes at the banks of Lake Sheshnag, He left His son Ganesha at Mahagunas Parvat and He left the Five Elements at Panchtarni. But while narrating the secret, a pair of pigeons overheard this and became immortal. Many pilgrims report seeing a pair of pigeons here.
- Kashmira Shakti Peetha: Amarnath cave is identified as one of the 51 Shakti Peethas known as Kashmira Shakti Peetha. The Devi is Mahamaya and Bhairava is Trisandheyeswara.
(Refer to the list of Shakti Peethas - Refer to Shakti Peetha Stotram)
- The Trek: Amarnath cave is reached by two trekking routes, one from Pahalgam and the other from Baltal.
The trekking route from Pahalgam is as follows:
- From Srinagar to Pahalgam (96 km).
- From Pahalgam to Chandanwari.
- From Chandanwari a trek of 12 km passing through spectacular countryside and overlooking the Sheshnag mountain (with seven peaks and resembling the serpent Sheshnag). The pilgrims camp at Wavjan near the blue waters of Sheshnag lake.
- From Sheshnag a trek of 12 km climbing the winding Mahagunas pass (4600 m) and then descending to the meadow land of Panchtarni.
- From Panchtarni the last 6 km trek to reach the holy cave of Amarnath.
The trekking route from Baltal is as follows:
- From Srinagar to Sonmarg (Srinagar-Leh road)
- From Sonmarg to Baltal (15 km) (3000 m). Baltal is a small valley on the foothills of the Zojila pass.
- From Baltal a day's steep trek to the holy cave of Amarnath.
- Reference: Amarnath is mentioned in Kalhana's Rajatarangini (12th century AD).
- Amarnath is located in the Anantanag district of Jammu and Kashmir.
Devi Mahamaya at Kashmira Shakti Peetha:
Devi's Kanthadesha (Region of the Neck) fell at Kashmira where She is known as Mahamaya and the Bhairava is called Trisandheyeswara.
(from Peetha Nirnaya texts)
The Kashmira Shakti Peetha is identified with Amarnath cave temple located in the Anantanag district of Jammu & Kashmir. Amarnath cave is around 48 km from Pahalgam and at an altitude of about 3888 m. The cave contains a natural Shiva Lingam formed from ice which becomes smaller and bigger in different seasons.
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