Pilgrimage in India

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Pilgrimage in India

Pilgrimages are just among the many journeys that tourists and locals embark on in India. These pilgrimages are popular among Buddhists, Sikhs, Hindus and Jains since their religions trace much of their beginnings in the country's towns, villages and cities.

Amarnath Yatra
The Amarnath Yatra is organised every year by the J &K Govt. during the month of sharavan ( July and August); the dates however , vary every year looking at the weather conditions and according to Purnima (Raksha Bandhan) in the month of Sharavan (Vikrama Samwat). This year yatra will be taken up from 01 August, 2005 to 31 August, 2005.

Yatra to Baba Amarnath Holy Cave for which one has to trek a height of about 14,500 ft is full of thrill and joy . The feeling of divine which is always beneath ones' heart , burst out and one realises ‘Moksha’ as one attends the Cave and perform the prayer before the Shivlinga.

Surrounded by beautiful valleys, mountains , one will always feel His presence on the paradise of the earth, the memory of which hardly vanishes with time A journey which will rediscover the nature and its love which is always inside but one has never felt. The origin of the pilgrimage is described in a Sanskrit book "Bringesha Samhita ".

Herein is stated that rishi Bringesha told his disciples the importance of the Amarnath cave and instructed them to go to the holy cave and have darshan of the sacred ice-lingam. The pilgrims, however, were harassed by the Rakhashas.

Thereupon, the rishi Bringesha prayed to Lord Shiva. The Lord gifted the rishi a scepter to ensure safe journey. This has ever since been the symbol of protection. to the caravan of the pilgrims and now it is called Chhari Mubarak.

Amaravati
Situated on the bank of River Krishna is the small town of Amaravati. Also known as Dharanikota or Dhayakataka, the holy shrine of Amaralingeswara, a manifestation of Shiva, can be found here. The temple and the town itself is associated with the reign if Vasireddy Venkatadri Nayudu, who ruled the region before the British came.

A great Buddhist stupa built by the Satavahanas is kept at the Government Museum in Chennai. A popuylar site for Bhuddist art, a popular Buddhist ritual called Kalachakra is also performed here every first week of January.

Badrinath
The holiest site among the four in India's Char Dham pilgrimage, Badrinath is the holy Hindu town situated at the Garhwal hills, right on the banks of the river Alaknanda. Elevated at 3,133 meters above sea level, Badrinath is considered the seat of the god Vishnu in the form of Badrinarayan. Badri means berries while nath refers to Vishnu. During the god's penance, it is said that the goddess Lakshmi took the form of berries to protect him. A Hindu holy town in Uttaranchal, India is the most important of the four sites in India's Char Dham pilgrimage.

Badrinath is situated in the Garhwal hills Chamoli district tracks on the banks of river Alaknanda at a height of 3133 m above sea level. Badrinath is considered to be the seat of the god Vishnu in his aspect of Badrinarayan. The term Badri means berries and nath refers to Vishnu. It is said that Goddess Lakshmi took form of berries to protect Lord Vishnu from harsh climate during his penance.

Also lauded as Bhu Vaikunta or the early abode of Lord Vishnu, many religious scholars visited the place and wrote sacred texts. The splendid Neelkanth mountaisn serve as a backdrop of the site and this reverd shrine is characterized with a myriad of legends from mythology. Among the legends is the story when Ganga was requested to come to earth and help rsolve the suffering of the people. However, the eart could not stand to the force of Ganga's descent that the god was split into 12 holy channels. Among the 12 is Alaknanda, which later became the home of Vishnu.


Kedarnath
Located in the Uttar Kashi distict of Uttaranchal state, Kedarnath is one of the most sacred pilgrim destinations in north India. Often flocked by people from a round the world, the place isn’t just visited for its religious significance but also for the rough terrains in Garhwal that await those up for adventure.

Believed to have been built by the Pandavas, the Kedarnath Temple is almost 1000 years old. Refurbished by Adiguru Shankaracharya in 8th century AD, the temple is dedicated to the Lord Shiva, which is seen here in the form of a pyramidal lingam.

In the 8th century AD, it was refurbished by Adiguru Shankaracharya. The temple is one of the jyotirlingas in the country and standing at the entrance is Nandi, Shiva's divine bull. Shiva's statue is transferred to Ukhimath during winters and is brought back to Kedarnath in May. A major attraction behind the temple is the spectacular view of the Kedardome peak.

Legend has it that Shiva intended to elude the Pandavas who came to seek penitence for killing their relative in the battle of Kurukshetra. The lord took refuge in Kedarnath in the form of a bull but was found by Bhi,a. one of the Pandavas brothers amongst a herd of cattle. Finding the bull the meanest among the group, Bhima grabbed Shiva by the hindquarters. Only the rera end of the bull remains in Kedarnath while the rest of the body is scaterred throughout the Garhwal. The hump on the surface, which was the result when Shiva dived into to the ground is worshipped today as the idol and is the main site of the Panch Kedar temples.

Gangotri
Lying on the banks of Bhagirathi River in Uttaranchal, Gangotri is a Hindu pilgrim town that is also on the Greater Himalayan Range elevated at 10,000 feet. The town is centered on a temple built by the Gurkha general Amar Singh Thapa in the 18th century and is dedicated to the goddess ganga.  Guests can witness the aarti ceremony right on the banks of the river. The temple is closed during Diwali day. The goddess is kept at Mukhba village until the temple is re-opened in the month of May.

Vaishno Devi
Believed by Hindus to be the one who can grant all the four objectives of human life by visiting her shrine, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi's temple has become a popular destination for pilgrimages in India. A journey to the goddess’ Holy Shrine promises stop-overs to enchanting places where she spent some time observing penances and spiritual disciplines. The journey culminates at the Holy Cave where she merged her human form with the astral from of the three Supreme Energies, Her creators.

The cave was once tucked in the Trikuta Mountains of Kashmir but is now a bustling religious center. It is said to be the one place that answers prayers, where tourists leave as followers. Inside the cave are images of the deities Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Mahasaraswati.

A legend is also attached to the Holy Cave, just like the rest of India's holy shrines. Around 700 years ago, Vaishno Devi praued to the Lord Rama when the tantrik demon god Bhairon Nath decided to pursue her. Wanting to keep her vow of celibacy, Vaishno Devi ran towards the Trikuta Mountains where several miracles happened during her stop-overs. 

Haridwar
This beautiful city at the foothills of the Himalayas is the gateway to four pilgrimages in the Uttarakhand region, which is located on the foothills of the Shivaliks. Also known as Hardwar, it is one of the seven sacred cities in India, a footprint believed to be that of Vishnu can be found on a stone on the riverbank of Hari-ki-Pari. Adjoining the sacred riverbank is the Daksheshwar Temple. Celebrated here is the Dikhanti or the birth of the river, which is held every spring and the Kumbh Mela, which occurs every 12 years. . Many pilgrims take a dip in the river.

Rishikesh
Rishikesh is one of the most popular pilgrim centres and gateway to the Himalayan Shrines of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. 1160 feet above sea level, Rishikesh is 25 kms from Haridwar. According to the ancient holy books, its earlier name was Kubjamrak. The four famous pilgrim centers of Garhwal-Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamnotri all share Rishikesh as their common gateway. In the old days, these pilgrim centers were very difficult to cover. But now there are roads from Rishikesh to these points making traveling easy. So, not only do the pilgrims go to these places but also tourists.

 
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