Religious India Destinations
Amarnath is 145 km east of Srinagar in Kashmir. There is an ice Silva-linga
here that changes size with the seasons, and also as the moon waxes and
wanes it becomes bigger and smaller. On the full moon day the linga is about
6 ft high. Each year on the full moon day of July-August (Sravana) when
the Siva-linga attains its maximum height there is a festival at this cave
temple. It is said that Lord Siva first appeared on this day.
Cradled in the twin mountain ranges of Nar and Narayan is the holiest of
the four main shrines, Badrinath along the left bank river Alaknanda. With
the splendid Neelkanth mountains as the backdrop, it is an important destination
on the scared itinerary of every devour Hindu. Once the spot was carpeted
with 'badris' or wild berries and hence was famous as 'Badri Van'.
Be it man's urge to placate the Gods above or to quench his desire for adventure,
Gangotri is an ideal location. Gangotri, the origin of the sacred river
Ganges, attracts tourists in large numbers every year. The confrontation
with the daunting rivers and attempts to unravel the mysteries of the supernatural
world are ubiquitous sights here. Along with the thrill of conquering nature,
what one experiences here is the mystical aura that India is so famous for.
Kedarnath is a majestic sight, standing in the middle of a wide plateau
surrounded by lofty snow covered peaks. The present temple, built in the
8th century by Adi Shankaracharya, stands adjacent to the site of an earlier
temple built by the Pandavas. The inner walls of the assembly hall are decorated
with figures of various deities and scenes from mythology. Outside the temple
door a large statue of the Nandi Bull stands as guard.
The city of Mathura, in Uttar Pradesh, the nucleus of Brajbhoomi, is located
at a distance of 145 km south-east of Delhi and 58 km north-west of Agra.
Covering an area of about 3,800 sq. km., today, Brajbhoomi can be divided
into two distinct units - the eastern part in the trans-Yamuna tract with
places like Gokul, Mahavan, Baldeo, Mat and Bajna and the western side of
the Yamuna covering the Mathura region that encompasses Vrindavan, Govardhan,
Kusum Sarovar, Barsana and Nandgaon.
Puri is the holiest place in Orissa and one of the biggest pilgrimage centres
in India situated on the shoreline of the Bay of Bengal. Here, the city's
activities generally revolve around the Jagannath Temple where devotees
visit from far and near. The town is divided into two - the old town the
main residential area, including the main shops and huge market area. Most
nights, the beaches host colorful markets and the city is abuzz with life.
Sai Baba, one of the foremost saints of modern India, lived in the small
village of Shirdi in the state of Maharashtra for sixty years. Due to his
presence there even after his Samadhi, today the small village has transformed
itself as a great spiritual center to people from all religions. Shri Sai
Baba, inspite of his great spiritual stature, never publicized himself through
discoursing, touring and preaching---unlike today's many 'so-called' saints.
Rather, he discouraged unnecessary publicity. But still, his spiritual perfection
is still drawing innumerable devotees to him from all over the world.
Tirupati, one of the richest temples in the country, is the most venerated
Vaishnavite shrine of Lord Venkateswara. It was patronised by the Pallavas,
the Cholas, the Pandyas and the Vijayanagar kings. 130 kms from the city
of Madras (Chennai), this temple is located in the southern Chittoor district
of Andhra Pradesh. Tiru' in Tamil means `Sri'. Hence Tirupati translates
to Sripati or Sri Maha Vishnu.
The shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi is one of the most visited pilgrim sites
in India. Situated at a height of 5, 300 ft., the site is located inside
a cave in a hill. One of the most visited pilgrim sites in India, the shrine
of Mata Vaishno Devi is located in a cave, amidst the folds of the Trikuta
Bhagwati hill at a height of 5, 300 ft., in the state of Jammu and Kashmir
(J & K). This cave temple is at a distance of 61 kms from Jammu and
the last 13 kms of the way have to be negotiated on foot by the yatris,
as the devotees are called. Once at the entrance to the cave, the path turns
into a narrow tunnel with a cold stream named the Charan Ganga running through
it. The pilgrim has to wade through this to reach the sanctum sanctorum.
The Garhwal Himalayas have been blessed with some of the holiest Hindu pilgrimage
sites and Yamunotri is one such. One of the Char Dhams according to Hindu
mythology, Yamunotri is the origin of the sacred river Yamuna. Famous for
its thermal springs and glaciers, it is one of the most important stopovers
on the itinerary of the Hindu pilgrim. According to an old legend, Asit
Muni, the revered sage, used to reside here.