Sorry...I don't have a photo of the Penicle...
Pilgrims hug icicle to death
"Hugging and touching the stalagmite definitely generates heat and can lead to its melting," said Mohammed Ismail, the head of the geology department at the University of Kashmir.
Hundreds of thousands of devotees make the gruelling trek to the Himalayan Kashmir mountains each year to gaze at the ice formation, which occurs annually and is worshipped as a symbol of Shiva, the god of destruction.
But by Monday, just the second day of the two-month pilgrimage, devotees only had a tiny stump of ice to look at compared to the towering form a few weeks earlier.
Officials had said global warming might be to blame for the formation's disappearance, before adding that irresponsible actions by pilgrims visiting the cave shrine before it officially opened could be responsible.
"Huge pilgrim gatherings inside the cave also generate lots of heat, causing the ice to melt," said Mr Ismail.
Television footage aired showed pilgrims and security force members hugging the stalagmite, posing with it for photos and scraping it to get "holy water."
It also showed devotees lighting oil lamps and incense sticks near the 3.6-metre icicle.
Newspaper reports said up to 50,000 devotees had visited the shrine before the pilgrimage's official start.