|July 13, 2012||Permalink|
Each year, Hindu devotees make a pilgrimage to the sacred Amarnath Cave, one of the most revered Hindu shrines, near Baltal, Kashmir, India. The Amarnath Cave has been a place of worship since times immemorial, with references found in many ancient texts. According a Hindu legend, this is the cave where Shiva explained the secret of life and eternity to his divine consort Parvati. The cave itself is covered with snow most times of the year except for a short period in summer when it is open for pilgrims. The cave is situated at an altitude of 3,888 m (12,756 ft). Hindu devotees brave sub-zero temperatures to hike over glaciers and high altitude mountain passes to reach the sacred Amarnath cave, which houses an ice stalagmite, worshiped by Hindus as a symbol of the god Shiva. More than 700,000 Hindu pilgrims are expected to take part in this year's two-month pilgrimage, according to local officials, causing strain on the environment and political stability of the region, which has long fought for independence from India. -- Paula Nelson (46 photos total)
Indian Hindu pilgrims rest at the beginning of the traditional journey to the Amarnath cave, near Chandanwari, 100 kilometers (62 miles) from Srinagar, India. Thousands of pilgrims annually go to the remote Himalayan shrine of Amarnath at 3,888 meters (12,756 feet) above sea level to worship an icy stalagmite representing Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction, June 27, 2012. (Kevin Frayer/Associated Press)
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