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Amarnath

Amarnath, Anantanag district, Jammu and Kashmir Amarnath, Anantanag district, Jammu and KashmirMeditation: I meditate on Lord Shiva telling the Amar Katha to Devi Parvati in the holy cave of Amarnath.

Amarnath: The holy cave of Amarnath is the center of divine presence in this pilgrimage. Pilgrims come from far off places to visit this holy cave. The cave is considered holy because Lord Shiva is said to have told the Amar Katha (secret of immortality) to Devi Parvati here after specially selecting this solitary place. A natural Ice Lingam forms inside this cave which is considered as the Shiva Lingam. Over and above this, the cave is also identified with the Kashmira Shakti Peetha.

Lord Shiva telling Amar Katha to Devi Parvati: According to legend Lord Shiva told the Amar Katha (secret of immortality) to Devi Parvati inside this holy cave. 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 have seen a pair of pigeons here.

Kashmira Shakti Peetha: Amarnath is also a Shakti Peetha identified with the Kashmira Shakti Peetha mentioned in the Peetha Nirnaya Tantra.

Experience of Swami Vivekananda: Swami Vivekananda visited the Amarnath cave and later told one of his disciples: "Since visiting Amarnath, I feel as if Shiva is sitting on my head for twenty-four hours and would not come down. Swamiji also said: "I never had been to anything so beautiful, so inspiring". Sister Nivedita recalled the following about Swamiji: "Never had Swamiji felt such a spiritual exaltation. So saturated had he become with the presence of the Great God that for days after he could speak of nothing else. Shiva was all in all; Shiva, the eternal one, the great monk, rapt in meditation, aloof from the world".

Amarnath Yatra: Though the cave is the central focus of the pilgrimage, the yatra undertaken to reach the cave through the vast Himalayan landscapes form part of the greater divine experience. The yatra has two routes: the longer route starting from Pahalgam, and a shorter route starting from Baltal. In the longer route, one comes across many places mentioned in the legend of Amarnath.

(a) Trekking route from Pahalgam:

1. Pahalgam: From Srinagar to Pahalgam (96 km). According to legend, Lord Shiva left His Nandi bull at Pahalgam before entering the cave.

2. Chandanwari: From Pahalgam to Chandanwari. According to legend, Lord Shiva released His Moon at Chandanwari before entering the cave.

3. Sheshnag: 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. According to legend, Lord Shiva released His Snakes at Sheshnag before entering the cave.

4. Mahagunas Parvat: From Sheshnag a trek of 12 km climbing the winding Mahagunas Pass (4600 m). According to legend, Lord Shiva left His son Ganesha at Mahagunas Parvat before entering the cave.

5. Panchtarni: And then descending to the meadow land of Panchtarni. According to legend, Lord Shiva left the Five Elements at Panchtarni before entering the cave.

6. Amarnath Cave: From Panchtarni the last 6 km trek to reach the holy cave of Amarnath. This is the place where Lord Shiva told the Amar Katha to Devi Parvati.

(b) Trekking route from Baltal:

1. Sonmarg: From Srinagar to Sonmarg (Srinagar-Leh road).

2. Baltal: From Sonmarg to Baltal (15 km) (3000 m). Baltal is a small valley on the foothills of the Zojila Pass.

3. Amarnath Cave: From Baltal a day's steep trek to the holy cave of Amarnath.

• Amarnath cave is located in the Anantanag district of Jammu and Kashmir.


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Last updated on Nov-2020

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