One of the weirdest lie leaders from Kashmir are repeatedly parroting over media is that the Amarnath cave was discovered by a Kashmiri muslim 130-140 years ago and that the yatra has existed only for last 130-140 years ago.
Now what do you call this - ignorance or political propaganda? This is an urban legend being repeated so often that people have started believing this as the truth. Yes, Buta Malik's family having been part of caretakers and having had rights to the proceed from donations/collections at the shrine is a fact. But the genesis of that is not that Buta Malik discovered the cave.
The historic references to the existance of the holy cave and the traditional yatra go back many centuries. (Source: Wikipedia)
While the earliest reference to Amarnath can be seen in the Nilamata
Purana (v.1324), a 6th century Sanskrit text which depicts the
religious and cultural life of early Kashmiris and gives Kashmir’s own
creation myth, the pilgrimage to the holy cave has been described with
full topographical details in the Bhringish Samhita and the Amarnatha
Mahatmya, both ancient texts said to have been composed even earlier.
References to Amarnath, known have also been made in historical
chronicles like the Rajatarangini and its sequels and several Western
travellers’ accounts. The original name of the tirtha, as given in the ancient textsis Amareshwara,Amarnath being a name given later to it
Giving the legend of the Naga Sushruvas, who in his fury burnt to
ashes the kingdom of King Nara when he tried to abduct his daughter
already married to a Brahmin youth, and after the carnage took his
abode in the lake now known as Sheshnag (Kashmiri Sushramnag), Kalahana
“The lake of dazzling whiteness [resembling] a sea of milk
(Sheshnag), which he created [for himself as residence] on a far off
mountain, is to the present day seen by the people on the pilgrimage to
Amareshwara.”(Rajatarangini, Book I v. 267.Translation: M. A. Stein).
At another place in the Rajatarangini (Book II v. 138), Kalhana says
that King Samdhimat Aryaraja (34 BCE-17CE) used to spend “the most
delightful Kashmir summer” in worshiping a linga formed of snow “in the
regions above the forests”. This too appears to be a reference to the
ice linga at Amarnath. There is yet another reference to Amareshwara or
Amarnath in the Rajatarangini (Book VII v.183). According to Kalhana,
Queen Suryamati, the wife of King Ananta (1028-1063), “granted under
her husband’s name agraharas at Amareshwara, and arranged for the
consecration of trishulas, banalingas and other [sacred emblems]”.
In his Chronicle of Kashmir, a sequel to Kalhana’s Rajatarangini,
Jonaraja relates that that Sultan Zainu’l-abidin (1420-1470) paid a
visit to the sacred tirtha of Amarnath while constructing a canal on
the left bank of the river Lidder (vv.1232-1234). The canal is now known as Shah Kol.
In the Fourth Chronicle named Rajavalipataka, which was begun by
Prjayabhatta and completed by Shuka, there is a clear and detailed
reference to the pilgrimage to the sacred site (v.841,vv. 847-849).
According to it, in a reply to Akbar’s query about Kashmir Yusuf Khan,
the Mughal governor of Kashmir at that time, described among other
things the Amarnath Yatra in full detail.
Amareshwar (Amarnath) was a famous pilgrimage place in the time of
the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan also. In his eulogy of Shah Jahan’s
father-in-law Asif Khan, titled “Asaf Vilas”, the famous Sanskrit
scholar and aesthete Panditraj Jagannath makes clear mention of
Amareshwara (Amarnath) while describing the Mughal garden Nishat laid
out by Asif Khan. The King of gods Indra himself, he says, comes here
to pay obeisance to Lord Shiva”.
Francois Bernier, a French physician, accompanied Emperor Aurangzeb
during his visit to Kashmir in 1663. In his book “Travels in the Mughal
Empire”, he writes an account of the places he visited in Kashmir that
he was “pursuing journey to a grotto full of wonderful congelations,
two days journey from Sangsafed” when he “received intelligence that my
Nawab felt very impatient and uneasy on account of my long absence”.
The editor of the second edition of the English translation of the
book, Vincient A. Smith, writes in his introduction: “The grotto full
of wonderful congelations is the Amarnath cave, where blocks of ice,
stalagmites formed by dripping water from the roof are worshipped by
many Hindus who resort here as images of Shiva…..”
Another traveler, Vigne, in his book “Travels in Kashmir, Ladakh and
Iskardu” writes about the pilgrimage to the sacred spot in detail,
mentioning that “the ceremony at the cave of Amarnath takes place on
the 15th of the Hindoo month of Sawan” and that “not only Hindoos of
every rank and caste can be seen collecting together and traveling up
the valley of Liddar towards the celebrated cave……”
Vigne visited Kashmir after his return from Ladakh in 1840-41 and
published his book in 1842. His book claims that the Amarnath Yatra
drew pilgrims from the whole of India in his time and was undertaken
with great enthusiasm.
Guru Arjan Dev is said to have granted land in Amritsar for the
ceremonial departure of Chari, the holy mace of Lord Shiva which marks
the beginning of the Yatra to the Holy Cave.
In 1819, the year in which the Afghan rule came to an end in Kashmir,
Pandit Hardas Tiku “founded the Chhawni Anmarnath at Ram Bagh in
Srinagar where the Sadhus from the plains assembled and where he gave
them free rations for the journey, both ways from his own private
resources”, as the noted Kashmiri naturalist Pandit Samsar Chand Kaul
has pointed out in his booklet titled “The Mysterious cave of Amarnath”.