Chilly winds open arms with snow kissing sky, pilgrims chanting hymns of lord Shiva on the journey of faith since centuries on the icy tracks of the Himalayas. One of the holy trinity, Shiva is a living god. Shiva is known to have made his home in the Himalayas. He built no house, no shelter, neither for himself nor for his bride.
The entire journey from Srinagar to the Amarnath Caves is a treat to the eyes. The natural beauty of this part of our country is second to none. It's sad to see that political events are stealing the attention that this state deserves. Legend has it that Shiva recounted to Parvati the secret of creation in the Amarnath cave. Unknown to them, a pair of mating pigeons eavesdropped on this conversation and having learned the secret, are reborn again and again, and have made the cave their eternal abode. Many pilgrims report seeing the pigeons-pair when they trek the arduous route to pay obeisance before the ice-lingam (the phallic symbol of Shiva).
Kashmir was a celebrated center of Shaivaite traditions right from the 1st millennium CE. The earliest mention of Amarnath can be traced back to the 6th century Sanskrit text Nilamata Purana where the ritualistic and cultural life of the early inhabitants of Kashmir has been elaborately described. The historic cave of Amarnath found it's rendering in many of the momentous works of the ancient scholars.
The sheer beauty of the snowy paths supplemented by post card sceneries makes the arduous voyage to the highest pilgrim center a mesmerizing allure. It is unquestionably a once in a lifetime experience that would not be missed by any Shiva Devotee. Nature has been so generous here at this snowy region and the cave presents an unbelievably serene ambiance to be in unison with the almighty.
Situated in a narrow gorge at the farther end of Lidder valley, Amarnathji stands at 4,175 and is 45 km from Pahalgam and 141 km from Srinagar. Though the original pilgrimage subscribes that the yatra be undertaken from Srinagar, the more common practice is to begin the journey from Pahalgam, and cover the distance to Amarnathji and back in four or five days. Pahalgam is 96 km from Srinagar.