New shrine on Amarnath route

JAMMU: Set amidst rocky cliffs and pine trees, the sacred cave shrine of Lord Shiva in Chandanwari hills of south Kashmir is all set to re-define the history of annual Amarnath Yatra when pilgrims will throng this new shrine this year.

``Pilgrims will this year throng this new three-mouthed cave shrine of Lord Shiva, 14 kms from the holy cave shrine of Amarnath,'' Shri Amarnath Welfare Langar Committee's Sarvanandan said.

Sarvanandan, who has been undertaking welfare activities regarding provision for boarding and lodging facilities free of cost at cave shrine route, said ``We will take the first batch of pilgrims to new shrine and also set up a langar (community kitchen).

A small foot track has been constructed by government up to the cave shrine but it is not enough. Amarnath Shrine Board should construct a road to the shrine which is just 4-5 kms from main road, he said.

Housed in a big cave, this shrine is on the threshold of re-establishing the fact that the Amarnath Shrine is over 5,000 years old.

The cave temple complex, surrounded by thick growth of birch trees, comprises three in-built caves dedicated to Lord Shiva in a nine feet area of white stones.

Located just above a tree line of the pictureseque landscape and sheltered by the golden leaves of birch trees, the main Shiva statue in black marble is two-feet high and is sculptured out of a big rock in the cave.

The statue, which has a trident on one shoulder and a naga on the other side, has withstood the onslaught of time. Besides on two sides of the statue, there are nearly a dozen small and big lingas which are affected by the weather.

However, the contents of the third inside cave continue to be shrouded in mystery due to the darkness inside it, said noted Shiv Scholar Dr B N Pandita, who, along with a shephered Haji Mohammad Rafique Bocken, had discovered it at a place called ``Hapatgund'' three years ago.

Bocken's son-in-law Gulam Qadir, while grazing his cattle, discovered the cave shrine and sent letters to state and central government officials, Pandita said.


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