The shadow of global warming seems to have fallen on the Himalayan cave shrine of Amarnath in south Kashmir, leaving the lingam at its lowest height.
The naturally formed ice-lingam of Lord Shiva has been steadily reducing in size every year with experts laying the blame on global warming.
The annual Amarnath pilgrimage is set to commence on July 2 and thousands of devotees are expected to make the difficult trek to pay obeisance.
The lingam, which is a naturally formed stalagmite, has been seeing a steady decline in its height over the years, largely due to warmer temperatures, reduction in snowfall and rising ambience temperature of the cave. Ten years ago, the lingam stood at 20 feet but in May last year, its height came down to 18 feet.
This year, however, the height has fallen drastically to just 10 feet – the lowest recorded in over a decade. The Shree Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) has employed a four-member team to check the ground conditions in the cave before the pilgrimage begins.
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THE SIGNIFICANCE OF AMARNATH PILGRIMAGE:
Amarnath is a 150-foot-high and 90-foot-long cave located nearly 145 km east of Srinagar
The cave has four ice formations, which are considered figurines of different Hindu gods The biggest figure is regarded as Shiva himself.
According to legend, the lingam grows and shrinks with the phases of the moon, reaching its maximum height on a full moon day. It is believed that Lord Shiva first appeared in the cave on this day.
The 5-day trek to Amarnath, which is 65 km back and forth, is challenging due to the harsh weather conditions, with temperatures even dipping -5 degrees Celsius and the steep climb
THE MYTH BEHIND THE LINGAM
Many believe that a Muslim shepherd named Buta Malik discovered the cave 5,000 years ago. According to the myth, the shepherd chanced upon saint who gave him a bag of coal and when he opened it on reaching home, it was filled with gold coins. When he went looking for the saint in the cave he accidentally discovered the ice lingam.
with Inputs from Here