As per religious beliefs, vision of the ice Shivalinga in Amarnath cave bestows 10 times the merit gained by paying obeisance to Shivlinga in Kashi, 100 times the merit gained by paying obeisance in Prayag and 1000 times the merit obtained by paying obeisance in Naimisharanya. That is why even today millions of Hindus go on a pilgrimage to Amarnath with wholehearted devotion. This article describes the unique features of the ice Shivalinga in Amarnath cave and the Parvati Peeth.
1. The present shrine of Amanarth was formerly Amreshwar
Amarnath is the chief place of pilgrimage for Hindus. In the ancient times, it was known as Amreshwar. Situated 145 kilometres from Srinagar, the Amarnath cave is situated in the Himalayan mountain range. This cave is 3978 metres above sea level and is 160 feet long and 100 feet wide. The height of the cave too is high. A vision of the Shivalinga from the Amarnath cave endows man with the merit of paying obeisance at 23 sacred places of pilgrimage.
2. Amarnath cave where Bhagwan Shiv exists in reality in the form of ice Shivalinga
The ice Shivalinga forms by itself in the Amarnath cave. The importance of this cave is that Bhagwan Shiv had granted the mantra of immortality to Devi Parvati in this cave. Devotees believe that Deity Shiv actually exists in this cave. When taking Devi Parvati along with Him to narrate the secret of immortality, on the way Bhagwan Shiv first abandoned His vehicle, Nandi, then at Chandanbadi released Chandra from His matted hair locks. When He reached a lake at Sheshnag He released the serpents around His neck. He left His beloved son Ganapati on the Mahagunas mountain. Then at Panchatarani, he surrendered all His five Principles. According to a legend on the day of Rakhi Pournima, Bhagwan Shiva finally reached the Amarnath cave.
3. Parvati Peeth in Amarnath cave – one of the 51 Shaktipeeths
The Shivaling formed in the Amarnath cave is completely of ice and outside the cave there is normal snowfall across the vast area. There is Ramakund (Pond) above this cave. It is said that Parvati Peeth exists in the Amarnath cave but even today many devotees are unaware of it. This is one out of the 51 Shaktipeeths (Seat of Divine Energy). It is here that the neck of Devi Sati had fallen. As recorded in the Scriptures, Bhagwan Shiv revealed the secret of immortality to Mother Paravati here. Apart from Devi Parvati, it was also heard by a parrot and two pigeons. Later this parrot became Sage Shukdev and attained immortality so also the pigeon couple. Even today some devotees spot the immortal pigeon couple in the cave.