The 5000 year old Amarnath shrine is a well known religious marvel in India and across the world. Lord Shiva chose this cave as his humble abode wherein he narrated a story. But why did he travel all the way to Kashmir?
The legend takes us back several centuries when Maa Parvati questioned Lord Shiva about the beads of head( Mund Mala) around his neck. On being insisted by Maa Parvati about Lord Shiva’s necklace of skulls, hesitant Lord Shiva replied “whenever you are born I add one more head in my beads.” which implied that each of those skulls was a symbol of different life of Parvati.
Maa Parvati said ,” My Lord, my body is destroyed every time and I die again and again, but you are Immortal. Please let me know the secret of this .”
Even as their love was immortal, Maa Parvati in quandry, dissatisfied with the reply from Lord Shiva queried vehemently causing Lord Shiva divulge the secret. However, Lord Shiva agreed but upon, but on one condition.
He wanted that no other mortal should get the mantra. For that, they had to go to a secluded place. Now which place other than Kashmir would qualify? They decided to go to Kashmir.
On way to Amarnath Cave, Lord Shiva leaves Nandi, The Bull, at Pahalgam (Bail Gaon). At Chandanwari, he releases the Moon from his hair (Jataon). On the banks of Lake Sheshnag, he releases his snakes. At Mahagunas Parvat (Mahaganesh Mountain), he leaves his son, Lord Ganesha. At Panjtarni, Lord Shiva leaves behind the five elements- Earth, Water, Air, Fire and Sky. As a symbol of sacrificing the earthly world, Lord Shiva performed the Tandava Dance. Then, finally, Lord Shiva entered the Holy Amarnath Cave along with Parvati. Lord Shiva then took his Samadhi on the Deer Skin and started narrating the story.
As Lord Shiva was reciting the story, Maa Parvati, tired of travelling around the world, caught forty winks in the middle of the story. Lord Shiva in oblivion continued narrating the story and that is when, the pigeon’s eggs lying in the cave hatched and the young pigeons started making noises. Lord Shiva thought Maa Parvati was listening and hence continued.
After finishing the story, Lord Shiva discovered that they were infact, the birds who heard the story. After he learnt about the pigeons, he went after killing them but the pigeons said that if he killed them, the legend of this story shall exist no more.
Then Lord Shiva left them alive and blessed them saying that they will reside at this place as a symbol of Lord Shiv and Goddess Parvati. Sighting a pair of white pigeons in the cave is therefore considered to be highly auspicious and meritorious during the Amarnath Yatra. It is said that even today the devotees often see a pair of pigeons here.
The locals here say that the two pigeons still visit the cave at midnight on every full moon.
An army man guarding the cave suggested that the pigeons gather around Shiva Lingam inside the cave once prayers begin in morning and evening.
Also, no other bird sightings were there in the entire terrain. It is hence, said that only those reach Amarnath Dham who are blessed by Baba Bhole Nath. Even reaching here is a great virtue. Person sighting and worshipping Baba Himani reaches heaven after this mortal life.