Amarnathji Cave temple is a famous Hindu temple situated in the town of Pahalgam in Anantnag district of the Union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. It is located at 12,756 ft above sea level.It is a unique combination of a Shiva temple as well as a Shaktipeeth, hence being one of the most important pilgrimage sites for thousands of Hindus.
The presiding deity is a naturally forming stalagmite or ice Shivalinga formed by water trickling from the top of the cave.
The story behind this states that Devi Parvati once asked Shiva why he is popularly worshipped with a Munda mala (skull garland) around his neck to which Shiva replied that only he is immortal and she dies many times. Hence,he adds one of her heads to his garland everytime she is born.
A visibly surprised and curious Parvati asks as to how that can be possible,to which Shiva says that there is a secret called the Amaratva Rahasya, known only to the Trimurti, of which he is a part. He agrees to reveal the mystery to her in a secret place,the Amarnath Cave after initial hesitation.
On the way to Amarnath Cave, Bhagavan Shiva leaves Nandi, the bull, at Pahalgam (Bail Gaon). At Chandanwari, he frees the moon (chandra) from his matter hair (Jata). On the banks of the lake Sheshnag, he frees the snakes. At Mahaguna Parvata (Mahaganesh Mountain), he leaves his child Ganesha. At Panjtarni, Shiva abandons the five components earth, water, air, fire and sky. As an image of giving up the natural world, he performed the Tandava Dance. At that point,he entered the holy Amarnath cave alongside Parvati, sitting on the deer skin.
He then narrated the Amaratva Rahasya to her,but she rested in the middle of the narration. A pair of pigeons were present in that cave which listened to the entire narration. When Shiva saw that she was exhausted, he heard the pigeons cooing. Enraged, he attempted to burn them to ashes but stopped when they said that the secret will be lost if he did so. Pacified, Shiva and Parvati blessed them to forever reside in this very cave.
Once, the entire Kashmir valley was submerged in a great flood which was subdued by Rishi Kashyapa. Later, Rishi Bhrigu was the first one to witness this cave and the stalagmite Shivalinga.
In 1897, Swami Vivekananda visited this holy place and meditated here. He even had a darshan of Shiva and was thrilled at the vision.
1. The immortal pair of pigeons are still seen here today by devotees during the Amarnath Yatra.
2. The naturally forming stalagmite or ice Shivalinga is very unique as it follows the waxing and waning cycle of the moon to form and disappear in the exact same manner.
3. It was here that Shiva explained the Amaratva Rahasya to Devi Parvati.
4. The cave was protected from the floods that engulfed this valley before Kashyapa subdued the waters with his spiritual powers.
5. Parvati and Ganesha are also depicted in icy forms, which is quite unusual
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