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Title : Pilgrims at Baba Amarnath Holy Cave
Description : Amarnath cave is a famous shrine in Hinduism located in the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. It is dedicated to Shiva. The cave is situated at an altitude of 3,888 m (12,756 ft), about 141 km (88 mi) from Srinagar, the capital of Jammu and Kashmir and reached through Pahalgam town. The shrine forms an important part of Hinduism, and is considered to be one of the holiest shrines in Hinduism. The cave is surrounded by snowy mountains. The cave itself is covered with snow most time of the year except for a short period of time in summer when it is open for pilgrims. An annual pilgrimage is made to the Amarnath cave by lakhs (hundreds of thousands) of Hindu devotees on challenging mountainous terrain to see an ice stalagmite formed inside the cave. The Amarnath cave has been a place of worship since times immemorial. There are references to one Aryaraja (32BCE-17CE) who used to worship a lingam formed of ice in Kashmir. The book Rajatarangini refers to Amareshwara or Amarnath. It is believed that Queen Suryamathi in the 11th century AD gifted trishuls, banalingas and other sacred emblems to this temple. Rajavalipataka, begun by Prjayabhatta has detailed references to the pilgrimage to Amarnath Cave. Other than this, there are further references to this pilgrimage in many other ancient texts.

The temple is a popular yatra destination for some Hindus. In 2011 it received about 634,000 persons, the highest recorded number for the site. The number was 622,000 in 2012. Pilgrims visit the holy site during the 45-day season around the festival of Shravani Mela in July--August, coinciding with the Hindu holy month of Shraavana. The Amarnath Yatra is organised every year by the J &K Govt. during the month of sharavan (July and August); the dates however, vary every year looking at the weather conditions and according to Purnima (Raksha Bandhan) in the month of Sharavan (Vikrama Samwat). Yatra to Baba Amarnath Holy Cave for which one has to trek a height of about 14,500 ft is full of thrill and joy .The feeling of divine which is always beneath ones' heart , burst out and one realises 'Moksha' as one attends the Cave and perform the prayer before the Shivlinga . Surrounded by beautiful valleys, mountains , one will always feel His presence on the paradise of the earth, the memory of which hardly vanishes with time a journey which will rediscover the nature and its love which is always inside but one has never felt.

Devotees travel on foot, either from Srinagar or from Pahalgam.[3] The latter journey takes approximately 5 days. The State Road Transport Corporation and Private Transport Operators provide the regular services from Jammu to Pahalgam and Baltal. Also privately hired taxis are available from Jammu. The shorter northern route is just about 16 km long, but has a very steep gradient and is quite difficult to climb. It starts from Baltal and passes through Domial, Barari, and Sangam to reach the cave. The northern route is along the Amarnath valley and all along the route one can see the river Amaravathy (It is more like a tributary of Chenab) which originates from Amarnath Glacier. En route to the cave, various non-profit organizations set up food supply and resting tents called pandals which are available for free to the pilgrims. Near the shrine, hundreds of tents which are erected by locals can be hired for a night's stay. Helicopter services from base camp to Panjtarni (6 km from the cave) are also available from various private operators.

Source: Wikipedia &

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