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Incredible journey: Thousands of Hindus make pilgrimage to Himalayan shrine

Kevin Frayer / AP

Pilgrims line up to enter the Amarnath cave, one of the most revered Hindu shrines, on June 29, 2012 in Indian Kashmir.

Daniel Berehulak / Getty Images

Hindu pilgrims walk along a mountain path as they make their pilgrimage to the sacred Amarnath Cave on June 30, 2012 near Baltal.

Photographers Kevin Frayer and Daniel Berehulak joined thousands of pilgrims on a trek to the remote Himalayan shrine of Amarnath, which stands at an altitude of 3,888 meters (12,756 feet).

Getty Images reports:

Hindu devotees brave sub-zero temperatures to hike over glaciers and high altitude mountain passes to reach the sacred Amarnath cave, which houses an ice stalagmite, a stylized phallus, worshiped by Hindus as a symbol of the god Shiva.

More than 700,000 Hindu pilgrims are expected to take part in this year's two-month pilgrimage, according to local officials, putting strains on the environment and political stability of the region, which has long fought for independence from India.

See pictures of last year's pilgrimage to Amarnath on PhotoBlog

Kevin Frayer / AP

A Hindu holy man wearing little clothing walks down a snowy hill during the traditional journey to the Amarnath cave, near Panitarni on June 28, 2012.

Kevin Frayer / AP

Pilgrims wearing track suits rest on the journey to the Amarnath cave on June 30, 2012.

Kevin Frayer / AP

The camp for Hindu pilgrims is seen at the Amarnath cave, near Sangam on June 29, 2012.

Daniel Berehulak / Getty Images

A pilgrim is carried on a palanquin by Kashmiri bearers over a glacier on her way to the sacred Amarnath Cave on June 29, 2012.

Kevin Frayer / AP

A Hindu holy man gestures to well-wishers as he is carried down a trail, near Panitarni on June 28, 2012.

Daniel Berehulak / Getty Images

A young pilgrim cries as he struggles along the path as he walks with his family during their pilgrimage to the sacred Amarnath Cave on June 28, 2012 near Baltal.

Daniel Berehulak / Getty Images

Pilgrims line up for a meal at a Lungar facility providing free food, near Baltal on June 29, 2012.

Daniel Berehulak / Getty Images

Pilgrims walk along a mountain trail during their pilgrimage to the sacred Amarnath Cave on June 30, 2012.