Amaranth Cave is considered as the holiest shrine of Lord Shiva and the pilgrimage to this cave attracts thousands of devotees from all around the world every year. Extremely difficult terrain and rough weather has to be encountered by the devotees as they reach the temple, which is located high in the snow capped mountains. However, nothing dissuades them from the tough trek as they chant “Har Har Mahadev” and “Bam Bam Bhole”, declaring their undying devotion for Lord Shiva.
Here are 10 most interesting and unknown facts about Amarnath Cave:
#1. As the legend goes, the Amarnath Cave was chosen by Lord Shiva to narrate the secret of immortality to Goddess Parvati.
#2. The yatra starts at Pahalgam, which is believed to be the place where Lord Shiva left his bull Nandi. He left behind the moon from his forehead at Chandanwari and his snakes at Sheshnag. Lord Ganesh was left by him at Mahagunas Hills and the five elements of Air, Water, Fire, Earth and Sky were left at Panjtarni. Then he made his way to the cave of Amarnath with Goddess Parvati.
#3. When Lord Shiva was telling the secret of immortality to Goddess Parvati, there was no living being in the Amarnath Cave except a pigeon’s egg. It is said that the pair of pigeons born from the egg has become immortal and can be seen in the cave even now.
#4. The credit of discovery of the Amarnath Cave goes to a Muslim shepherd called Buta Malik, who met a saint here. The saint gave him a bag of coal, which became full of gold coins when he reached home. When Buta went back to thank the saint, he found the shrine of Amarnath over there.
#5. Amarnath Cave houses a natural lingam made of ice. The lingam waxes and wanes with the lunar cycle and this is considered a miracle of nature and the power of Lord Shiva. The cava also has two more ice lingams, each one representing Goddess Parvati and Lord Ganesha.
#6. It is believed that the cave is nearly 5000 years old. The lingam here is called swayambhu lingam as it is said to have appeared here on its own.
#7. Amarnath Yatra attracts lakhs of devotees every year, despite being one of the most arduous in the world. The yatra is carried out in the month of shravana every year, which falls in the western calendar months of July and August.
#8. The Yatra to Amarnath Cave is carried on two routes, the traditional Pahalgam route and the new one, which starts the pilgrimage at Baltal.
#9. The land of Amritsar has been granted by Guru Arjun Dev of the Sikh religion as the departure place of Chari. Chari is the name given to the mace of Lord Shiva and it is the beginning of the yatra to the Amarnath Cave.
#10. The responsibility of management of Amarnath Yatra has been taken by Amarnath Shrine Board, which provides all kinds of facilities to the pilgrims on their way to Amarnath Cave.
Hundreds of common kitchens or langars are organized on the way, to cater to the needs of the thousands of pilgrims on daily basis.