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Amarnath Yatra to begin on June 28
Amarnath Yatra is one of the most important Hindu pilgrimages to the holy snow-clad cave shrine of Lord Shiva. It is an annual event that generally takes place during July or August, and thousands of Hindus from different corners of the world visit Amarnath caves.

This year the 55-day-long Amarnath Yatra will begin from 28 June 2013, this decision was taken by the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB). Last year, over 100 pilgrims died while performing the pilgrimage and the reason behind that was producing wrong medical certificates or not following the rules. So, the SASB is taking more precautions this time.

The Amarnath temple is situated in the beautiful northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir at an altitude of 3,880 meters in the southern Kashmir Himalayas. It is believed to be one of the holiest places for Hindus and is known to be lord Shiva's residence. Amarnath caves generally open from early July (Ashad Purnima) to early August (Sharvan Purnima).

Amarnath temple is not directly connected by road, and it is a very difficult trek and a steep climb up along the Himalayas. The yatries going for Amarnath yatra need to pass a medical examination and should carry their registration card, without this the yatris will not be allowed to proceed. The Shri Amarnathji Shrine Board (SASB) is responsible for the smooth and trouble-free pilgrimage to the Holy Shrine.

The climate in Amarnath is very uncertain, rain or snowfall can take place at any time during the yatra, the temperature may fall to up to -5 degree Celsius. The major attraction in Amarnath is the Ice Lingam with a large opening, an underground trickle of water emerges 10 feet up from a small cleft in the sedimentary rock.

The Amarnath cave attained significance because it is believed that this cave was chosen by Bhole Shankar for narrating the secrets of immortality and creation of Universe to Maa Parvati. Centuries ago Maa Parvati asked Lord Shiva about the beads of heads (Mund Mala), and to this Shivji replied, 'whenever you are born I add one more head in my beads'. To this Maa Parvati asked 'why my body is destroyed every time and I die again and again, but you are Immortal' to this he replied that it is an amar katha.

Legend has it that Shiva recounted to Parvati the secret of amar katha in a cave in Amarnath. Unknown to them, a pair of mating doves secretly listened to the conversation and having learned the secret, they are reborn again and again, and have made the cave their eternal home. Many pilgrims report seeing the dove pair when they trek the hazardous route to pay obeisance before the ice-lingam.

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