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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Popular Pilgrimage Sites in India

Posted by patrick

By Gopal Krishnan

Unity in diversity adds to the beauty of people of India and this diversity in customs and traditions followed by Indians since ages have contributed significantly in shaping up Hinduism and various Hindu rituals.

Prolonged interaction among the diverse groups led to the advent of "Vedism" which introduced the worship of gods of rain, fire and the sun. Over the ages there had been a number of changes observed in the broad minded Hinduism philosophy where the simple worship of natural forces is now replaced by complex rituals.

The curious amalgamation of the animistic approach and following of rituals can be seen in all the Hindu holy places. Presence of nature's best gifts like astounding caves, lush green forests , flowing rivers etc at the site of Hindu pilgrimages reflects its association with the philosophy of animism.

Practising of strict rituals is another important basis of Hinduism that can be seen at places of holy worship.

Shiva the destroyer, Vishnu the nurturer and Shakti the creator are three main gods worshipped by the modern Hindu religious devotees. All the Hindu places of religious worship are associated with the devotion to either one of these three major religious sects. Various forms of Lord Vishnu are praised all across India in the temples of Vrindavan , Badrinath, Kumbh Melas and Haridwar in Northern part of the country whereas these incarnations are also worshiped in the south in temples of Rameswaram and Tirupati and Puri in the east. Similarly, Lord Shiva is believed to dwell and bless the devotees visiting the sacred shrines of Kedarnath and Amarnath.

The Vaishno Devi cave has gained its holiness from Goddess Vaishno also known as Maa Shakti. Hanuman, who was the servant of Ram and in whose praise the poem Hanuman Chalisa was written is prayed in the temple of Balaji in western India.

Sacred Hindu Pilgrimage of Gangotri & Yamunotri where the devotees can enjoy the beautiful sceneries offered by holy rivers Ganga and Yamuna are also quite famous. The other major places of Hindu Pilgrimage include Varanasi, Nava Graha Sthala temples of nine planets, Maths started by Sri Shankracharya , the shakti peeth temples, Panch Bhutha linga temple and yes visit to 7 religious rivers of India namely Ganga , Yamuna , Godavari, Saraswati, Sarayu, Kaveri and Narmada.

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