Unlike the past two years when the harsh summer led to early melting of the Shivlingam at the Sri Amarnath cave shrine, its size is growing owing to the unusually cool summer this time round.
A spokesman of the Shri Amarnath Shrine Board (SASB) who visited the shrine along with Kashmir Governor SK Sinha on Thursday, said the Shivlingam has been showing signs of further growth for the past few days. The ice lingams of Ma Parvati and Ganesh have also formed fully.
Temperatures at 13,500 feet above sea level, where the shrine is located, are sub-zero in the night. This has kept the size of the Shivlingam growing, said Nazir Ahmad, one of the Muslim guards keeping a watch at the shrine.
“At least its (Shivlingam) size and girth has not decreased since March 25 when we took the first pictures in the Cave Shrine.”
Several factors have contributed to the phenomenon. These range from unusually cool weather conditions, to grilled protection for the Shivlingam, to keeping security forces deployed in the cave periphery at bay.
Last year, the pilgrimage was marred by controversy as many pilgrims alleged that the ice-lingam, which forms naturally due to freezing of dripping water at a particular point, had been tampered with. They also alleged that SASB had put artificial ice in place of the natural ice lingam.
The annual pilgrimage to the cave shrine will start from June 18 and last till August 16.
— With agency inputs