The livelihood of thousands of residents of Pahalgham and nearby areas is heavily dependant upon the Amarnath pilgrimage, which attracts large number of pilgrims during summer. "We are expecting that this year we will have a sizable ice lingam in there so that the people will come and have good look this year. Last year the pilgrims faced a problem because the ice lingam had melted," said Manzoor Bhat, Station House Officer (SHO), Pahalgham.
The residents hope that the ice lingam in the majestic holy cave will last till September when the pilgrimage concludes.
"This year we have had a good snowfall. There was about 5-6 feet of snow here. And Amarnath has received around 20-25 feet of snow," said Hanan Khan, a resident.
During the last two years the inadequate formation of the ice lingam had disappointed the devotees who visited the cave shrine. In 2007 the naturally formed ice lingam at Amarnath had shrunk to one-tenth of its size after a rapid melt-down.
The Hindus see the holy ice lingam in the Amarnath cave as a manifestation of Lord Shiva, the god of destruction and regeneration.
The cave shrine of Amarnath is situated on the narrow openings between the mountains of Lidder valley at a height of 3,888 metres in southern part of Kashmir.