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Kailash Mansarovar 2014

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Shri Amarnath Yatra 2014

One of the holy trinity, Shiva is a living god. The most sacred and most ancient book of India, the Rig Veda evokes his presence in its hymns. Vedic myths, ritual and even astronomy testify to his existence from the dawn of time. But Shiva, the destroyer, the mendicant, is indefinable: he is the great yogi, the guardian of the absolute. His actions are the themes of the myths in which his nature unfolds.

Legend has it that Shiva recounted to Parvati the secret of creation in a cave in Amarnath. Unknown to them, a pair of mating doves eavesdropped on this conversation and having learned the secret, are reborn again and again, and have made the cave their eternal abode. Many pilgrims report seeing the doves-pair when they trek the arduous route to pay obeisance before the ice-lingam (the phallic symbol of Shiva).

Amarnath is situated 141 km (88 mi) east of Srinagar in Kashmir. There is an ice Sihv-linga here that changes size with the seasons, and also as the moon waxes and wanes it becomes bigger and smaller. On the full moon day the linga is about 6 ft high. It is located in a glacial valley at 3,888 m (12,756 ft.). The cave is about 150 feet high and 90 feet long. Within the cave there are four or five ice formations that resemble the figures of different gods. The biggest figure is regarded as Siva (Amarnath).

By its side are, fascinatingly, two more ice-lingams, that of Parvati (on right), and of their son, Ganesha (on left).