To read this series from the start please click here.
Final Destination, Amarnath Cave :- With all my might and vocabulary in my mind I have tried my level best to narrate and show you what I have seen and sensed. But what I have described and shown here is not even a fraction of what I felt there. To have a real feel one has to be called by Lord Amarnath. Jay Bhole.
Sangam to Amarnath Cave
Soon after crossing Sangam 7.30 AM, I tried to let aside the thoughts of the dangerous incident and was just watching anxiously the path and the Valley. Huge uproar was coming from Baltal route , Har Har Mahadeo and Jay Bhole and similarly Pahalgam pilgrims were replying with the same intensity. It was appearing as if some competition is going on, who is louder ? But all was in good spirits of ultimate devotion and love for the Lord.
Yes after around 5 minutes crossing Sangam Top on the valley where cave was situated, we got the darshan of that Secret Holy Cave. Still around 2.5 kms were remaining and through bright sunlight and fog I could make out where the cave was .The sight of the cave was so mesmerizing and enthralling that I couldn’t take eyes of it. The divine and incorporeal rays and feeling coming from the cave had magnetized my mind and soul completely. I was in no mood of seeing anything else apart from that cave. I shouted Sonali ” सोनाली! पापा ! वह देखो, वही है गुफा, वहा सीधे सीधे, उस पहाड़ के अंत में.वहा टेन्ट्स के ऊपर , क्या दिख रही है? ” ( Sonali, Papa! See there , there is the cave , there look straight, at the end of that mountain,above the tents, can you see it ). They replied Yes.
Automatically from inside all the other thoughts vanished and heart started to pump fast. Only thing in the mind was Lord Shiva. After planning for so long this is it . We are coming , still 2 kms to go.
My feelings, actions and views seen towards the Amarnath cave
The river that flows through Amarnath cave valley was completely frozen above and rest was flowing under the ice. Most of the places we were walking were on the snow. And temperature here was really cold around 10 degree C , but now all these things were not affecting us. Only thought coming to the mind is travel towards the cave and meet Barfani Baba, Lord Shiva. My eyes and hands were continuously at work on the horse . The job of eyes was to watch the cave and within every few meters I would ask my horseman to stop and click the picture of the cave. Now I was fully refreshed and rejuvenated.
I started anticipating how would be my darshan inside the cave. If I am going to get the darshan of Shivalingam made of ice or just cave. Apart from the cave what was I going to see. Countless other thoughts were roaming due to excitement and fervor here. Har Har Mahadeo was the only sound that we were hearing all the way coming from the bottom of heart of each and every devotee. The zeal and excitement had no bounds. Everything was going in towards the cave.
Some Positive rays of hope for viewing Ice ShivaLinga
Sandeep Jatdevta and Manu Tyagi had already told me that you are not going to witness the Shivaling as it gets melted due to heat in just 15 days after the yatra start. Maximum the Lingam remains till 20 days. But after that only darshan of the cave is possible. But while researching the internet , I found one video from Aaj Tak that this time Kashmir in 2012 had received lot of snow fall and temperature was also very low. So there are many chances that the ice shivalingam remains till the end of the Yatra. In fact along with the BSF these Channel Coordinaters of Aaj Tak went there before a month at the Cave and gave complete information. The height of the Amarnath Shivalingam was around 22 feet this time ( I doubt this height was exaggerated , there is no space for 22 feet inside the cave ). It was after 20 years that this much big Shivaling had emerged and emanated. So I was anticipating some sort of positive news as far as the view of Shivalingam was concerned.
To have the view of full Shivalinga one month before the yatra start in a youtube video from AajTak , please click here.
A conversation with Enthusiastic and Energetic Couple cum Devotees
In between the path we met a very motivated couple around mid 50′s who were coming back and singing very happily and loudly ” Jay ho Baba ki , Har Har Mahadeo“.From their sweet facial expressions and body language itself we derived that they had achieved the universe’s most valuable blessings and riches. They were telling us the sight in the cave was wonderful.
I asked them वहाँ गुफा में शिवलिंग अभी भी है क्या ? ( Is Shivalinga still present in the cave ? )
They replied, हाँ अभी भी पूरे 8 फीट का . बहुत बढ़िया लगता है . इस दुनिया इससे बेहतर व सुंदर और कुछ भी नहीं है. हर हर महादेव , हर हर महादेव . जय भोले. (Yes. Its full 8 feet long. Looks very good. There is nothing better or more beautiful than this in this world. Har Har Mahadeo.Har Har Mahadeo. Jai Bhole.)
Further, आप लोग थोडा सा लेट हो गए हो. आप लोगो को आरती के लिए आना चाहिए था. बहुत मन को सुकून मिला है बाबा की आरती देखकर . और यहाँ बाबा की सबसे बढ़िया आरती होती है. मैंने आज तक ऐसी आरती देखी नहीं. बस झूम-झूम के नाचने का मन करता है बाबा के सामने. हर हर महादेव . जय भोले. (You are little late. You should have come for Aarti. Seeing Baba’s aarti we felt peace in our mind and relaxed. Here it is best aarti of Lord Shiva. I have never seen this type of aarti anywhere. Just we wanted to dance in front of lord. Har Har Mahadeo. Jay Bhole.)
Myself ,कोई बात नहीं , हमे बस बाबा ने यहाँ बुलाया यही बहुत है हमारे लिए. ( Not to worry. We have been called by the Lord that is more than enough for us.) आप लोग कब से आये थे और आरती कितने बजे की थी ? (When did you come here and what is the time of the aarti ?)
They said, हम लोग कल शाम से यहाँ है और अब जा रहे है. अमरनाथ बाबा की आरती ७.०० बजे होती है सुबह. बहुत मजा आता है . जय भोले.जय भोले. जय भोले. जाइये और कीजिये बाबा बर्फानी के दर्शन . हर हर महादेव. (We came yesterday evening and now we are going. Lord Amarnath’s aarti is at 7.00 AM. Lot of enjoyment there. Jay Bhole. Jay Bhole. Now go and have the darshan of the Lord. Har Har Mahadeo.)
And the with full motivation and happiness they went away.Now This was very good news for us that Shivalinga was still present that too a huge one. I thought Lord is fully satisfied with us and is showering his blessings like anything. What we were not expecting and didn’t wish we were getting that. Many people actually had told why are we going this late and won’t be able to witness the shivalinga. But we said its ok if we didn’t witness Shivalinga , we would like to see the cave where Lord Shiva meditates and is present and feel him through soul rather than just see his symbolic lingam. Some use to say it was a bad decision to go this late, if you cannot witness then what is the use.But we had strong feeling that even we didn’t see the Lingam with our naked eye, Lord Shiva and Devi Parvati are present there and they are going to witness us. That is what matters. But now see after all we are going to get bonus of watching Shivalinga this time also , its all Lord’s wish.
One thing what I learnt here and coming right from my soul, am sharing with you.
सत्कर्म करने के लिए या कोई सत्कर्म करने का निर्णय करने के लिए कोई शुभ महूरत देखने की जरूरत नहीं, जिधर हो, जब हो, कोई भी परिस्थिति हो ,हो जाओ शुरू और उसके उपरांत फल की अपेक्षा न करो तो भगवान के कृपा की बौछार होती है.
While performing any good deed or taking any decision for doing good deeds you don’t have to look at the auspicious time.Wherever,whenever and in any circumstances , just start performing it and if we don’t expect any results from it, then Lord showers his blessings on us.
Amarnath Cave Area and Surroundings
Everything near by Baba Amarnath’s cave is on the layer of ice above the river. Tents , Shops, Bhandaras, Military Camps etc. all were constructed on the foundation of thick layer of ice above the river flowing below. Most of the tents were removed because now the season was over. The picture shown below is a thick layer of ice over a river. You can see the rectangular blocks of ice in the picture on which the tents were fixed.People use insulation sheets at the bottom to save from the chilling ice beneath. Now the temperature was around 10 degree C. Just imagine the temperature at night. It would be in minus for sure.The horses below in the picture are walking on ice layer and below that there is a river flowing.
Meanwhile I started zooming my camera and started taking pictures of the cave . Still the weather was not very clear as it was early morning and lot of fog was still present. Along with sunlight the scene was quite visible but little hazy.
To show the difference I have shown a picture of the valley of Amarnath Cave taken in the evening, not by me. At this point the sun was no where in the sight and was about to set. The sky was mostly clear. So the clarity of vision depends on the weather and time when you visit the cave.
Photo Credits :- www.3marg.info
Now a point came where we were just one kilometer away from the cave. And here there was huge fervor among the devotees. Shops and Langars were present and devotees seeking blessings were all either buying prasad for the Lord or having tea and breakfast . The whole atmosphere was filled with devoted praises for Lord Shiva . Long bazaar of all Muslim shops selling worship items of Hindus and calling Jai Bhole, Jai Bhole.Har Har Mahadeo. Jay Bholenath. Each and every pilgrim was wishing each other with these words. This was amazing feeling.
All the tents and bhandaras were made of plastic and cloth which were temporary. The only thing we saw made of proper stone and concrete, was Shri Shri Swami Gyan Giri ji Maharaj’s ashram, preparing constant food for all meal times for decades now.
As seen in the picture below there was no rush in the cave , Otherwise the queue is so much long coming downwards that it takes around 3 – 4 hours to just take a glimpse of the ice shivalinga for around 1 – 2 minutes thats it.
The biggest concern for the future of Amarnath Yatra
I found cleanliness arrangements one of worst ones in the yatra. There was lot of scarcity of dustbins all over. No arrangement of cleaning was there. People use to throw everything on the ground everywhere. The worst thing was plastic bottles and plastic paper were everywhere. This is the big cause of concern in future because it may affect rate of melting of ice shivalinga which even now is a great concern.If the shrine does not look at the cleanliness, hygienic and biological aspect there is every chance that this yatra may loose its original charm.
AMARNATH CAVE ( 13000 feet)
Amarnath Legend :-
And finally after reaching the Secret cave from Panchtarni Lord Shiva opened his third eye and directed a huge ball of fire which destroyed all living things in the vicinity of the cave. Then he instructed Devi Parvati to listen carefully as he narrated the Amar Katha. He also instructed her to make some sound regularly to let him know that she is listening (This was because during the narration he would go in a trance and convert into what is believed to be the ice lingam which is worshiped today).
Then Lord Shiva started the narration of Amar katha and assumed the form of Ice Atmalinga ( A Shivalinga in which Lord Shiva himself is present). When Shiva created the ball of fire, it destroyed all living things around Amarnath Cave, but left a egg untouched as it was hidden beneath the deer skin on which Shiva was sitting. From this egg a pair of pigeons hatched, who listened to the Amar Katha and became immortal. Even to this day one can see a pair of pigeons in Amarnath. Lets see whether I could have the darshan of those great immortal pigeons.
Near Amarnath Cave
We landed at the foothills of the mountain where cave was situated. There we went to a shop to keep our baggage. Here there are no locker rooms, only shops are available . You have to keep your baggage here itself. They charge nothing for the storage, but you have to buy prasad and offering from them, thats it. Prasad and offering vary from Rs. 25, 51,101 and 151. We also have to keep our mobiles and cameras here in the shop as both the things are not allowed in the cave. In turn they give us receipt. Now as we were all set to go my father in law told that he wanted to have a bath in the chilling cold river flowing through. I said no way I was going to bath in that chilling river. In the news I had heard that many people die due to Hypothermia here while bathing. I vociferated and protested his idea of bathing. But he didn’t listen. He straight took out his boxers and went to have bath. But I didn’t had that much courage to have bath. But I went to bank of that chilling river sprinkled little water on all the parts of my body. For me the holy bath was over.
On the way to climb the final steps to Amarnath cave
Now its time for the darshan inside the cave and the ice shivalingam. We headed towards the cave which was still 367 steps above the base. We started climbing steps. Sonali and my father in law were quick and they went up. My horseman was carrying Aarya on his shoulders as we were fully tired to take her up. And I was the last, the whole path of steps was full of BSF and CRPF officers holding their guns as if they are Ganas of Lord Shiva. The smile and enthusiasm on each and every devotee coming down after having darshan knew no bounds. Each one was greeting us with loud Har Har Mahadeo or Jay Bhole. As I was going above I was thinking what should I speak to lord when I see the Shivalinga. I should thank Lord for saving Aarya’s life or thank him for calling us here or ask for something. And while climbing our legs were totally gone. And we were too much tired and exhausted because of continuous travelling on horses. But still we had to go. There in between at around 50 steps below the cave there was huge silver statue of Nandi. I prayed to Lord Nandi and proceeded further.
Ecstasy felt inside the Amarnath Cave
Now after climbing 367 steps we were totally exhausted we removed our shoes at a place. Then again after climbing 5 to 10 steps we get entry in the cave. After climbing these steps inside the cave we come on a large flat platform where lot of people can stand at once. Again after this We climbed 3 – 4 steps where we witnessed the entire scene of stupendous miracle created by the Almighty ( IceLingam), that is what we came here for. ALL SELF MADE BY GOD ITSELF. It was huge 8 feet lingam with a very large and smooth ice base called yoni. The Lingam is situated at a distance of around 5 meters to prevent heat of the bodies for devotees entering inside. Along with the main shivalinga there were other self made idols of Sheshnag, Lord Ganesha and Maa Parvati as well.
As I was not able to express the actual genuine feeling inside the cave , below are words of my wife Sonali.
Now as soon as we land our feet on that viewing platform, within 3 seconds our legs gets so much frozen and numb that we felt that we don’t have legs only.Whatever was feeling before entering the cave like pain, fatigue and tiredness was entirely vanished. Our eyes were so stuck and magnetized towards the whole divine scene that we didn’t had any concern about our paining legs. The tremendous shine, the divine effluence, the white colour ,brightness of that ice lingam and blissful radiance coming from the entire display of Almighty’s Miracle was such that we forgot that there was anything called world. We were not at all worried about our body nor any worldly activities. We felt that there is nothing called body and there is only a soul which is meditating on Lord Shiva. In fact for that few moments we felt that the entire functions of universe have stopped. There is only one feeling and one thing everywhere that is Shiva is all prevailing and we are inside him.
Around 2o good minutes we were inside as there was no rush.
This time Amarnath Shivalinga was very huge in size and thickness due to lot of snow fall in Kashmir, that is the reason we got the darshan. Previously before 20 years this much huge shivalinga was present , Please enjoy the pictures of 2012 Ice Lingam.
The above image is taken from the Website called www.hindu-blog.com with their written permission.We are greatly obliged to them for that.
Immortal Pigeons in Amarnath Cave
Then we climb down three steps to that large platform from where we can still have darshan from distance. We spent few minutes there and while wearing our shoes again, we become normal coming back in our body. There again we had heard many times that there were immortal pigeons in the cave. While resting there we got the sight of those two immortal pigeons .YES ! there are two pigeons and again our eyes were stuck to them as if a child is seeing a miracle. But it is a miracle. In this treacherous weather it is impossible for pigeons to stay here and that too at a altitude of 13000 feet where it is impossible for normal pigeons to fly at this height .But they are present and are hale and hearty were sometimes flying and sometimes resting in the grooves of the cave.It is the proof that miracles happen and exist.
A remarkable thing to notice here is that the only Shivalingam is self made of solid ice and all by itself and for kilometers around, you find only soft and loose ice.
Coming Down from the Amarnath Cave
And while climbing down the steps there was infinite amount of feeling of enthusiasm and euphoria in our body that each and every extremely tired devotees who were climbing up were greeted by us with full motivation .” जय भोले . हर हर महादेव. भाईसाहब जब आप बाबा के दर्शन करोगे ना, सारी थकान निकल जायेगी.और आपमें पूरी स्फूर्ति आ जायेगी. हर हर महादेव ” ( Jay Bhole. Har HarMahadev. Sir, when you have vision of the Lord , your whole tiredness will vanish. And energy will prevail inside you.) Shouting Jay Bhole we again reached the base of the cave, peeping again and again backwards towards the cave. The feeling here was such that we didn’t want to leave but had to. We started to prepare our return journey.
We all clicked our own pictures with the Amarnath Cave with us in the background.
Soon We were ready to leave on the horses but still our soul was still mesmerized inside the cave. Again and again our mind and senses were pulled towards it.
After having the darshan and spending around two hours at 10.00 AM we were ready to leave. This time the fog completely vanished and pictures of the cave were very clear .
From many accounts of spiritual texts and granths we have seen the divine secret Amarnath Cave in this post.This is the place where Devi Parvati saw Lord Shiva for the first time when he was mediating here alone. Then it was at this Cave when Lord Shiva was meditating Devi used to come and perform his pooja everyday. It was here in this cave where Kamadeva shoots his erotic arrows on Lord Shiva and Lord Shiva burns him out.
Thanks for going through the post. Now our return trek to Pahalgam will be covered in my next post along one more daunting and intimidating incident , Charri Mubarakk and finally the positives of this yatra. Till then
To read the next post in the series please click here .
Dear Readers if you want to read my other Yatras with more pictures PLEASE CLICK BELOW