Holy Place. Various festivals are
also celebrated in the temples. The Jagannath temple in
Puri is well known for the Rath Yatra that draws Hindu
from all over India. Besides this there are various
other small village fairs. During these festivals and
fairs you can see the villagers walking in small groups,
brightly dressed and often high spirited, sometimes as
far as eighty to a hundred kilometers.
Today, most of the Hindus consider the worship, often
referred to as “performing puja” as an integral part of
their faith. The majority of Hindus have a small temple
in their homes of one of the gods of the Hindu
mythology. Various individuals and families also visit
the holy places such as Benaras or Puri. Such sites have
a temple which is dedicated to a major deity but there
are various other shrines in the vicinity which are
dedicated to various other gods. The various acts of
devotion are aimed towards the relatively abstract goal
of liberation, from rebirth and meeting the urgent needs
for the life like good health, finding a suitable wife
or husband, the birth of a son, prosperity and good
fortune. In this respect there is a remarkable
similarity in the devotion of the various pilgrims of
all faiths whether they visit Hindu, Buddhist or Jain.
Temples, the tombs of the Muslim saints or the churches.
In the domestic shrine or in a great temple, performing
Puja means making an offering to deity and Darshan means
having a view of the deity. Although there are
devotional movements among Hindus in which singing and
praying is practiced in the groups and the Hindus
worship is considered as an act performed by the
individuals. Thus, the Hindu temples may be a little
more than a shrine in the middle of the street, that
houses an image of the deity which will be tended by a
priest and visited at special times when a Darshan of
the resident God can be obtained.
Pilgrimage Places in North India
Ujjain is the quiet and relatively small provincial
town. Ujjain is situated about 60 kms. from Indore.
Ujjain is one of the greatest cities of ancient India
and one of the seven sacred cities of Hindus in India.
It is also one of the four towns where the Kumbh Mela is
held and plays as a host up to a million pilgrims who
gather on the place every twelve years. Various people
came here to bath in the Shipra river and worship at the
temples on its banks. According to Hindu astronomers, it
is also the city from where the Tropic of Cancer pass.
This explains the presence of the observatory (Vedha
Shala) built by the Raja Jai Singh of Jaipur in 1725.
Even today, the Ephemeris tables (predicted positions of
the planets) are published here. Ujjain is also known
for industry and crafts. The best season to visit Ujjain
is from October to March.
Ayodhya is one of the seven most sacred cities of the
Hindus in India and situated about 135 km from Lucknow,
on the banks of the Gaghara river. The name Ayodhya
means which cannot be subdued by war. It covers an area
of 10.24 square km. Ayodhya is one of the seven holy
Hindu cities. This holy city holds a place of pride
among Hindus as it is the birthplace of Lord Rama, the
seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Ayodhya is also
believed to be the capital of Kosala, a kingdom ruled by
Lord Rama. Ayodhya is an equally important place for
Jains and Sikhs. Ayodhya is a city of temples as there
are about 300 temples here. The famous places in Ayodhya
are Shri Ramjanma Bhoomi, Ramkote, Kala Rama, Kanak
Bhavan, Swargdwar, Nageshwarnath Temple, Hanumangarhi,
Treta Ke Thakur, Tulsi Smarak Bhawan and Ramkatha
Mathura is an important place of pilgrimage in India as
it is the birth place of Lord Krishna. Mathura is one of
the most sacred cities of Hinduism and is situated on
the western banks of the Yamuna River. The thousands of
devotees visit this place throughout the year. It lies
at the heart of the Brajbhoomi, a land that is imbued
with sanctity, for it was here that the young Krishna
was nurtured. The little towns and hamlets in this area
are still alive with the tales of his mischievous
pranks, his extraordinary exploits and still seem to
echo with the sound of his flute. Today, Mathura with
its many temples and splendid ghats along the Yamuna
river, is an important pilgrimage town.
The Char Dham of Uttaranchal consists of the four major
shrines of Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath.
Badrinath is one of the holiest pilgrimage shrine in the
Garhwal Himalayas among all these shrines. Badrinath is
situated amidst the magnificent background of the
Neelkanth mountains in the twin mountain ranges of Nar
and Narayan, along the left banks of the Alaknanda
river. According to the Hindu Shastras, no pilgrimage is
complete unless one visit Badrinath, the abode of
Vishnu. Along with Rameshwaram, Dwarka and Puri it is
one of the four holiest places in India and it is a
living faith with every Hindu to visit the shrine of
Badrinath once in a lifetime. The Badrinath temple is
dedicated to Lord Vishnu. This temple remains closed
during the winter season and is open from May to
Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath are the
four major shrines that constitute the Char Dham of
Uttaranchal. Among all these shrines, Gangotri is the
fourth major and picturesque pilgrimage shrine in the
Garhwal Himalayas. The melting Gangotri glacier give
rise to sacred Ganga river. The Gangotri Temple is
situated at a height of 3140 meters amidst charming
surroundings of deodars and pines, about 248 kms. from
Rishikesh. The Temple of Gangotri is dedicated to the
goddess Ganga and is erected whre she is believed to
have been descended on earth for the first time. This
temple is visited by lakhs of pilgrims between May and
October, every year. By November, Gangotri is covered by
snow and it is believed that the goddess retreats to
Mukhba, her winter abode.
Haridwar is situated at an altitude of 294 m and one of
the seven holy cities of Hindus. The name Haridwar means
the Dwar of Hari or the Door of Lord Vishnu. In Haridwar,
the Vishnu’s footprint are placed on the banks of the
holy river giving it its sanctity. Haridwar is situated
at the base of the Shiwalik hills and on the west banks
of the river Ganga. The River Ganga passes through its
last gorge and begins a 2,000 km journey across the
plains of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal to the
Bay of Bengal. The main tourist attraction in Haridwar
is the Har-ki-Pauri. Har-ki-Pauri is the place where
Lord Vishnu is believed to have left his footprints.
Some part of the Ganga has been diverted here and this
later becomes the canal. Bathing here is believed to
cleanse all sins.
Kedarnath is situated about 77 kms. from Rudraparayg.
Kedarnath is situated amidst the background of snow
covered mountain peaks of the majestic Kedarnath range,
at an altitude of 3584 meters on the head of the
Mandakini river. The Kedarnath temple is one of the
twelve 'Jyotirlingas' of Lord Shiva and one of the
holiest pilgrimage shrine for the Hindus. The Kedarnath
temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and visited by many
pilgrims every year. The main idol in the temple is the
linga of Lord Shiva, in pyramidal shape. During the
winters, the shrine is submerged in the snow and closed.
The ideal time to visit this place is between May and
Rishikesh means the place of sages. Rishikesh is
situated about 25 kms. from Haridwar in the north Indian
state of Uttaranchal. Rishikesh is located at a height
of about 1360 feet above sea level. Rishikesh is
situated around the Ganga river as it swiftly runs
through the last hills of the Himalaya. Rishikesh, the
gateway to Himalayas, is considered as the Mecca for
Yoga and Meditation centres. The spectacle of the Ganga
rushing through the Himalayan foothills is an awesome
sight. It is believed that several yogis and sages lived
and practised penance here. Today, there are various
ashrams in Rishikesh. The Maharishi Yogi also had his
ashram here and was fortunate to capture the imagination
and attention of the Beatles in the early sixties.
Rishikesh is also the base for travel to the hill
regions of Garhwal and the four holy shrines of
Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri and also
the Sikh Shrine at Hemkund Sahib.
Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath are the
four major shrines that constitute the Char Dham. Among
all these shrines, Yamunotri is the first pilgrimage
shrine of the Char Dham Yatra in the Garhwal Himalayas.
Yamunotri is the westernmost shrine in the region,
dominated by the Banderpunch. Yamunotri is situated at a
height of 3235 meters in the western region of the
Garhwal Himalayas. Yamunotri is the source of the river
Yamuna, the twin sister of Yama, the Lord of Death.
Anyone who bathes in her waters will be spared a
tortuous death. Yamuna is also the daughter of Surya,
the Sun. The Yamuna river originates from the Champasar
glacier, lying 1 km ahead of the shrine, at an altitude
of 4421 meters. The Yamunotri Temple is dedicated to the
goddess Yamuna. This shrine attracts devotees in the
large numbers from May to October. Various people visit
the temple of Yamunotri either on foot or ponies.