Hindu Pilgrims Leave Mark on Mountain

18 Feb, 2012 - By

A Hindu pilgrim worships in front of an ice stalagmite, or lingam, in a cave in Kashmir during the annual Amarnath Yatra. Between May and August each year, hundreds of thousands of Hindus make the yatra, or pilgrimage, to a remote cave in the Himalaya, to see the phallic ice structure that they believe is the mark of the god Shiva.

The cave is one of the most revered of Hindu shrines, yet the ice stalagmite is melting, in part because of climate change, but also because of the body heat of so many visitors, scientists say. Traditionally, pilgrims arrived on foot or on horseback, picking their way along 30 miles of trail over glaciers and through mountain passes. But increasingly, wealthy visitors have been taking helicopter rides to the site, with a frequency of 300 flights a day.



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