Rich and abundant in holy places, traditions and rituals, India offers much to those who seek and practise to maximise their spiritual experience. Pilgrimage is at the heart of Hinduism. Pilgrims go to revered sites where they believe the gods may have appeared or become manifest in the world. The article below highlights four such very revered pilgrimages of India. Team RetyrSmart
Pilgrimages at the heart of India
Millions have been coming to this country, aptly called ‘the holy land’, to discover tranquility, serenity and sometimes even oneself. Indians, too, have been visiting temples and shrines scattered across India to find God, peace, or blessings of a deity.
Pilgrimage is at the heart of Hinduism. Pilgrims go to revered sites where they believe the gods may have appeared or become manifest in the world. These sites could be temples, mountains, rivers, and other sacred places or destinations.
India abounds in spiritual places. Almost every nook and corner of the country carries the fragrance of something spiritual. But certain sites are so revered that millions of Hindu pilgrims from all over India, and also from different countries, throng them annually or at least once in their lifetime. These spiritual journeys are different from ordinary travel, for a spiritual pilgrimage is a reminder of the power of journeys taken slowly and deliberately.
Kailash Mansarovar Yatra
Perched at a startling height of 22,000 ft, Mount Kailash is believed to be the throne of God Shiva and his divine consort Parvati. According to Hindu mythology, the Mansarovar lake was first created in the mind of Lord Brahma. Hence, in Sanskrit it is called Manasarovar (Manas meaning mind and Sarovar meaning lake). The mount is also supposed to be the summer abode of swans that are considered wise and sacred water birds. According to a religious perception, Mount Kailash is the spiritual centre of the universe or the world pillar.
Char Dham Yatra Nestled amidst the lofty Himalayas, the state of Uttarakhand seemed to have found favour with the divine. No wonder the state is known as devbhumi or the ‘land of gods’, where four sacred shrines — Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath — exist. These four shrines held as ‘abodes of gods’, form a sacred pilgrimage tour that’s popularly known as chhota char dham yatra (bigger char dham yatra consists of Dwarka, Badrinath, Puri and Rameshwaram).
Amarnath Yatra is rooted in ancient scriptures. According to Hindu mythology, this is the cave where Lord Shiva explained the secrets of immortality and creation of Universe to his consort Parvati. Located in the Indian states of Jammu and Kashmir, Amarnath cave is one of the most famous and revered shrines for Hindus. Said to be more than 5,000 years old, Amarnath cave is visited by more than 4,00,000 people (mostly devout), during the 45-day season around the festival of Shravani Mela in July-August. One needs to fill the Amarnath Yatra Permit Form and obtain a compulsory health certificate from an authorised health institute before going on this journey.
Vaishno Devi Yatra
In search of mystery, miracles and God, (goddess in this case) yet another spiritual journey or yatra that finds favour with most Hindus is Vaishno Devi Yatra. Supposed to be one of the oldest temples (bhawan as it is called), thousands throng to get a glimpse of the mata rani — as the goddess is popularly called by her devotees. Like in other holy caves or temples, there are no statues, pictures or idols inside. Instead, darshan inside the cave is in the form of natural rock formations called pindi.
Faith with which a spiritual journey is undertaken can be quite satisfying, fulfilling, and rewarding.