Envis Centre, Ministry of Environment & Forest, Govt. of India

Printed Date: Thursday, October 21, 2021










The Amarnath temple is one of the ancient Hindu temples in India. The Amaranth temple is supposed to be 5000 years old and is visited by thousands of Hindu devotees every year. The holy cave of Amarnath is situated inside a steep cliff at an altitude of 4,000 meters. A massive ice lingam inside the cave waxes and wanes with the phases of moon. The legendary pair of white doves sits besides the shrine. There are legends which say that it was here that Lord Shiva explained the secrets of creation and salvation to his consort Parvathi and the doves overhead them and, as result, pigeons born out of them became immortal having listened to the secret of immortality. The Amarnath cave is noted for its pillar of ice or the ice lingam is visited by thousands of pilgrims mostly during the month of July and August.





Amaranth situated at an altitude of 3888 m above sea level is about 145 km from Srinagar, the capital of the north Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. Amarnath is also referred to by the name ‘Amareshwara’ which is mentioned in the Rajatarangini. The early history of this pilgrim destination dates back to the times of Aryaraja (34 BCE to 17 CE) who used to spend his summers here worshipping an ‘ice lingam’. During those days the location of this place was beyond the forest area. The famous Shah Kol canal situated here was constructed by Sultan Zain’l-abidin who frequently visited the city during the years 1420 1470.



Fairs and Festivals:

Pahalgam is the starting point of the annual Amarnath yatra to the holy cave shrine of Amarnath. This is where, Hindus believe, Lord Shiva explained the secret of salvation to his consort Parvati on a full moon light. Every year in the month of July/August when the moon is full thousands of devout pilgrims gather before the Amarnath cave in the Liddar vally to offer their prayers to Lord Shiva.








Amarnath Cave: It measures about 45 m (150 feet) high, 27 m (90 feet) long and faces south. A massive ice lingam inside the cave waxes and wanes with the phases of moon.

There is another ice formation on the left side of the lingam which is worshipped as Ganesha, and on the right there is another ice formation which is worshipped as Parvati. Pilgrims visiting here are given Vibhuti or holy ash.








The Ice Lingam: In Amarnath there is an Ice Lingam that changes its size with different seasons, and also with the moon, as its waxes and wanes. The lingam attains its maximum height of about 6 feet on the full moon day and hence on this day in the month of July-August. A festival is held here when the lingam attains its maximum height for its strongly believed that Lord Shiva appeared on this day.







Amaranth Yatra: Pahalgam is the base for the religious trek to the abode of Lord Shiva. A narrow spiralling path from Panchtarni leads to the Amarnath cave. Though the voyage to the cave is quite adventurous and demanding, it is worth going to Amarnath.







Chandanwari: Chandanwari is the place from where the famous Amarnath yatra starts which is about 16kms from Pahalgam.







Sheshnag Lake: The waters of this greenish blue lake are covered with ice till June. According to Hindu mythology, the sacred snake Sheshnag has seven heads and this is how the place having seven peaks derives its name Sheshnag.







Panchtarni: On the way to Amarnath this is the last camping site and it is the place where five streams meet from where it derives its name Panchrarani.