The Ice Phallus Riseth
Amarnath mountain stands at 5,486 meters above sea level in Kashmir. The famous Amarnath cave is situated in a narrow gorge at the farther end of Lidder Valley, at about 4,000 meters above sea level. During the full moon of the Hindu month of Shravana (July-August), it is the destination of thousands of Hindu pilgrims who consider the pilgrimage a most sacred experience.
The cave is about 150 feet wide at the entrance and 90 feet high. It can accommodate about 600 people at a time. Inside, pilgrims can view a large ice mound believed to be the representation of the lingam or phallus of the god Shiva. The white stalagmite is formed by a steady stream of water trickling down from the top. It is believed that the source of this water is Lake Ramkund, located above the cave. The ice pillar rises up to eight feet in height in July, diminishes to about four feet in August and a mere a foot in September.
Hindu pilgrims make their annual pilgrimage believing it will lead to prosperity. They believe that in this cave, Shiva recounted to Parvati, his wife and the daughter of the Himalayas, the secret of the cosmos, the Amar Katha.