3 Amarnath


   Amarnath is a famous shrine to SHIVA in Kashmir, located some 80 miles from Shrinagar, in a moun-tain cave roughly 7,500 feet high. A Shiva LINGAM shape of ice covered with snow is visible at the far end of the cave. This is considered a “natural” or “self-generated” Shiva lingam, created by nature.
   It is said that Shiva revealed the secret of immortality to PARVATI at this cave. Beneath the tiger skin on which Shiva sat, pigeon eggs later hatched. Those who do pilgrimage to this place often see the immortal pigeons incubated by the Lord Shiva himself. Some say that the first to make the pilgrimage to this shrine was Bhrigu Rishi.
   In modern times it is said that a Muslim shep-herd, Buta Malik, was given a sack of coal by a holy man at this site. When the shepherd returned home, he discovered that the coal had turned to gold; at the same time a Shiva lingam made of ice had appeared in the famous cave. The principal pilgrimage to this shrine is during the full moon of Shravana (July–August). The full pilgrimage, a widely observed custom since 1850, takes a total of 40 days from the lowlands upward and back.
   Further reading: F. M. Hassnain, Yoshiaki Miura, and Vijay Pandita, Sri Amarnatha Cave, the Abode of Shiva (New Delhi: Nirmal, 1987); Karan Singh, The Glory of Amarnath (Bombay: Shanti Svarup Nishat, 1954).

Encyclopedia of Hinduism. . 2007.

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