NEW DELHI, INDIA, July 7, 2024 (MSN): The Siva Lingam at the Amarnath cave shrine in the Himalayas has started melting, in just over a week after the yatra to the holy shrine began, due to the ongoing heatwave conditions. The yatra to Amarnath cave shrine began on June 29 this year. The Amarnath Cave, nestled at an altitude of approximately 12,730 feet in Jammu and Kashmir, is revered by millions of Hindus worldwide as the abode of Lord Shiva. The melting of the Amarnath cave Shiva Lingam is being attributed to the heatwave conditions. Major parts of north and central India have been witnessing severe heatwave conditions from May this year. The valley, too, has been witnessing soaring temperatures and blistering heat over the past few weeks. Pilgrims, however, continue to arrive in Jammu and Kashmir for the darshan of Baba Barfani, as the shrine is popularly known.

The Shivling at the Amarnath Cave is a naturally formed ice stalagmite structure inside the cave. The Shivling traditionally grows in size during the summer seasons, where the route is opened for pilgrims for darshan, due to the freezing of water dripping from the cave roof. It is commonly believed that the formation represents Lord Shiva’s form, and its size has been a matter of spiritual significance for centuries. The Amarnath Yatra began on June 29 from the twin tracks – the traditional 30 mile Nunwan-Pahalgam route in Anantnag and the 8.7 mile shorter but steeper Baltal route in Ganderbal – and will culminate on August 19. Till now, over 150,000 pilgrims have visited the holy shrine. More than 450,000 pilgrims offered prayers at the cave shrine last year.

In a normal year the Lingam looks like this: