Located in the state of Gujarat in India, the famous Somnath Temple is a very sacred Hindu pilgrimage site. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is considered to be one of the twelve “Jyotirlingas” (lighted lingas), which is a symbol of Lord Shiva. The temple of Somnath has existed since times immemorial and it is also mentioned in the oldest Holy Scriptures, Rig Veda. An interesting fact about Somnath temple is that though it has been destroyed a number of times; it has always been rebuilt. Read the legend behind the Samantha pilgrimage.
It is said that the Somnath temple was built by the moon God himself in gold, then by the demon king Ravana in silver, in sandalwood by Lord Krishna and in stone by the one of the rulers of Gujarat, Bhimdeva. It is said that the moon was very proud because of his beauty. Angered by his arrogance, his father-in-law cursed him to decrease and ultimately vanish. He pleaded for mercy and then was told to worship Lord Shiva. His curse was removed partially and he thus built the temple for Lord Shiva.
The architecture of the present temple reflects the Chalukya style of construction. The intricate and flawless carvings speak volumes about the skilled artisans of Gujarat. An inscription on the Arrow Pillar on the sea protection wall states that there is no piece of land between the point where the temple stands and Antarctica. The first President of India, Dr. Rajendra Prasad commented that the Somnath temple symbolizes the fact that the power of creation is always more than the power of destruction.
The holy Dwarka temple is located in the state of Gujarat located on the West of India. It is an important pilgrimage for all Hindus and is considered to be the ancient kingdom of Lord Krishna. In the bygone era, it is said that Dwarka was known as Kushasthali. According to legends, Lord Krishna left Mathura and traveled with the entire Yadava clan to the Gujarat coast. He founded the town situated right on the coast of Saurashtra in Gujarat and named it Swarnadwarka. The city of Dwaraka was supposed to have been submerged in the sea.
The present day temple was built by Vajranabh, the great grandson of Lord Krishna. All devout Hindus believe that the temple was set up in one night by supernatural forces commanded by Vajranabh. It is said that when Lord Krishna was on his deathbed, he ordered that everyone should evacuate the city and the city was submerged under the sea. The present day historians and archaeologists after excavating and through research claim that the sea engulfed five major settlements of the city. Dwarka is supposed to be the sixth.
The holy Dwarka Temple is built on the north of the Gomti River. It is estimated that the temple is almost 2500 years old. The temple is built lavishly and is five stories high. The delicately carved roof is built like a conical pyramid and reaches to a height of 157 feet! The main idol is black in color having four hands and measures around one meter tall. The most popular temple over here is the temple dedicated to Rukmini, Lord Krishna’s wife, who is supposed to be the incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi. Dwarka is supposed to be one of the “Math” (religious seat) established by the famous saint Adi Shankaracharya.
Varanasi is the oldest and the most sacred place for the Hindus. Varanasi, also known as the holy city, combines in itself the cultural essence and mysticism of India. Varanasi stands on the banks of river Ganga, considered the holiest of all Indian rivers. Varanasi or Kashi is both an exalted place of pilgrimage and a microcosmic centre of faith. A large number of pilgrims visit the holy city from all parts of India and the world. Varanasi is a unique city where the past and present, eternity and continuity live side by side.
Legends have it that the holy city of Varanasi was founded centuries before the birth of the Christ. Varanasi is situated between the two tributaries of River Ganga- Varuna to the north and Asi to the south. Varanasi combines the name of both these rivers. Varanasi is mentioned in Holy Scriptures like Puranas, Buddhist texts and in the Mahabharata. The most fascinating part of the holy city of Varanasi is that almost all the activities seem to revolve around river Ganga and its Ghats. Life on the banks of the Ganga begins before dawn, when thousands of pilgrims come to the river for the holy dip. It is believed that the sacred river will cleanse them of their sufferings and wash their sins away.
With the sun rise the Ghats burst into activity. In the morning, the Ghats present a charged holistic atmosphere. Brahmins recite passages from sacred texts and priests perform various kinds of holy rituals. Perhaps Varanasi is the only place that stirs an individual to reflect about life, to contemplate about creation and the irrelevance of temporal wealth in the face of death. The burning Ghats at the edge of River Ganga keep reminding people that life is mortal. At the same time, the rising sun and the morning and evening rituals at the Ghats bring hope and optimism to thousands of beleaguered people. This is the essence of Varanasi- “the Gateway to Moksha.”
Pilgrimage Attractions of Varanasi
The Vishwanath temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva, is the most sacred shrine in Varanasi. People from all parts of the world come to visit this temple. After its destruction in the medieval period, the temple was restored by Rani Ahilyabai of Indore in the 18th century.
Bharat Mata Temple
The Bharat Mata temple is the only temple dedicated to Mother India. The Bharat Mata temple was built by Babu Shiv Prasad Gupt in the Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth. This temple was inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1936. The statute of Bharat Mata is built in marble and is a replica of undivided India in three dimensions which depicts the mountains, plains and oceans.
Tulsi Manas Temple
The Tulsi Manas Mandir (temple) is dedicated to Lord Rama. The temple is believed to be built at the place where Tulsidas composed the ‘Ramacharitramanas’, the great epic. It provides us with detailed description of the history and deeds of Lord Rama. The walls of the Tulsi Manas temple are adorned with “Dohas” from Ramcharitramanasa.
Mathura is an important place of Hindu pilgrimage. Mathura is also known as the Brajbhoomi – the land where Lord Krishna was born and spent his youth. Mathura is located on the banks of River Yamuna. It was transformed into a place of great reverence after Lord Krishna was born here. Mathura is located about 58 km north-west of Agra. At present the Brajbhoomi is divided into two separate units- the trans-Yamuna tract (eastern side) with places like Gokul, Mahavan, Baldeo, Mat and Bajna and the western side of the Yamuna covering the Mathura region that encompasses Brindavan, Govardhan, Kusum Sarovar, Barsana and Nandgaon.
It is said the Shri Krishna, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu, was born as the eighth son of the Yadava prince, Vasudev and his wife Devaki. To save him from the murderous intentions of his maternal Uncle Kansa (the ruler of Mathura), the infant Krishna was spirited away soon after birth to Gokul, the village of the gopas (cowherds) in Braj (their pastureland). It was at Braj that Krishna grew into manhood, in the tender care of his foster parents Nand and Yashoda and cowherds. Lord Krishna is also known for his precepts to Arjun in the battle of Kurukshetra. In this battle Krishna revealed to the world the ultimate truths of life.
Mathura is characterized by picturesque Ghats, arched gateways and temple spires extending along the right bank of the River Yamuna. In ancient times Mathura was very strategically located. Mathura’s strategic location at the cross roads of various trade routes ensured its position as a centre of trade and a meeting point for varied cultures. By the fifth century BC Mathura was a major metropolis and the capital of the Surasena Kingdom, one of the 16 Mahajanapadas. During the Kushana period Mathura became famous for the Mathura School of sculpture.
Vrindavan – Temples
Vrindavan, around 15 km from Mathura, is a major place of pilgrimage, on the banks of Yamuna . Attracting about 5 lakhs pilgrims every year, it is noted for its numerous temples- both old and modern. Vrindavan is synonymous with the innocent mirth and child like playfulness of Shri Krishna. Vrindavan, the dusty little town known for the temples, big and small, famous and remote strewn all over the place.
Where is Vrindavan : Vrindavana is 135 km south of Delhi and 55 km north of Agra, just off the Delhi-Agra Road. It is 12 km or a 25-minute auto-rickshaw ride from Mathura. It has a small-town type atmosphere with narrow streets and not much motor traffic. There are said to be over 5000 temples in Vrindavana. Vrindavan History The name ‘Vrindavan’ is derived from ‘Vrinda’, another name for the sacred tulsi (basil) plant. A legend has it that the entire place was a tulsi grove at one time. According to another tradition, it was named after Vrinda Devi, one of Krishna’s playmates. The earliest known shrine in Vrindavan is said to have been built by the local gosains in a large garden called Nidhiban, later named Seva Kunj. According to tradition, Emperor Akbar was taken blindfolded inside the grove where he had some kind of a spiritual experience. As a result, he acknowledged the spot as being holy ground.
Vrindavan Tourism The four Vrindavan temples that were built in honour of his visit are Govind Deva, Madan Mohan, Gopinath, and Jugal Kishore. The first is an impressive edifice built in red sandstone. Architecturally this temple is one of the finest in North India.
However, apart from its history, what keeps Vrindavan darshan alive in the popular imagination of the people is its rich legend and mythology. Vrindavan is considered the place where Lord Krishna spent his early childhood. It was here that Krishna indulged in adolescent pranks with the gopis (milkmaids) in the forests and stealing their clothes while they bathed in the river.
Ujjain is one of the oldest cities of India. It is located in the Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh state. In ancient times Ujjain was known by the names of Ujjayini and Avanti. It is situated on the eastern bank of River Shipra. Ujjain was referred to as Ozene by Ptolemy. Ujjain is one of the seven sacred cities of the Hindus. Ujjain is one of the four sacred places where the Kumbh Mela is held. The Kumbh Mela festival is held at Ujjain after every twelve years. Ujjain is also home to one of the twelve Jyotirlinga shrines in India.
Ujjain is considered a sacred city for the Hindus. The Mahakal Temple, housing one of the twelve Jyotirlingas, is the most famous and respected Shiva temple. Other important temples of Ujjain are Harsidhhi (Durga Temple), Chintaman Ganesh, Gadh Kalika, Kaal Bhairav and Magalnath. Since Ujjain is an ancient city, there are many monuments that have survived from the ancient period.
The most spectacular monument is the Kalideh Palace on the outskirts of the Ujjain city. It is a fine example of ancient Indian architecture. The Bhartuhari Gufa is an ancient cave which has some interesting legends associated with it. The observatory at Ujjain is another remarkable example. It was built Raja Jai Singh of Udaipur and put is one of the five such observatories in India and has many ancient astronomical devices.
The most important religious event at Ujjain is the Simhasta Mela (also called the Kumbh Mela). The Simhasta Mela or the Kumbh Mela is held every twelve years in Ujjain. During the Kumbh Mela millions of devotees assemble at Ujjain to have a holy dip in the holy River Shipra. Another yearly event at Ujjain is the Kartik Mela. The Kartik Mela is a fair organized every year in the Hindu month of Kartik (around December) and attracts thousands of people from the nearby areas.
Located in a small district called Chittoor in southern Andhra Pradesh, is the famous Tirupati Balaji Temple of India. This temple is supposed to be the richest temple in India. After the Vatican, Tirumala Tirupati pilgrimage is the most visited shrine in the world. This temple is dedicated to Lord Venkateswara and thus is also known as Sri Venkateswara Temple. The name Tirupati Balaji actually means “Lord of Goddess Lakshmi”. A tour to South India is incomplete if you don’t visit Tirupati Balaji Temple.
The pilgrimage is the richest temple in India and is visited by high profile celebrities as well as the poorest of all. The temple is located on a series of seven hills, which are located at a height of 853 meters above sea level. The temple has a vibrant charitable and cultural heritage. The institution that manages the temple as well as other educational institutions run by the same name is called Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam. Most devotees who come here have their heads shaved as it is considered very auspicious.
The architecture of the temple is very grand and the style is predominantly Dravidian. The dome shaped roof over the main sanctorum is entirely covered with gold. It is known as “Ananda Nilayam”. There are three “Prakarams” (enclosures) in the shrine. The annual festival of the temple is known as “Brahmotsavam”, which is celebrated grandly on a huge scale for nine continuous days during the month of September. Thousands of devotees gather to take part in the festival and seek blessings of the almighty.
The Lake city of Ajmer is well known for the Dargah of Sufi saint Khwaja Moin-ud-din Chishti. The ‘Dargah Sharif’ in Ajmer is held in great esteem by devotees of all communities. Khwaja Moin-ud-din Chishti had come from Persia and established the Chishtia (Sufi) order at Ajmer, India. Khwaja Moin-ud-din Chishti was so popular among the masses that his followers cut across all the religions. He was popularly known as ‘Gharib Nawaz’ (protector of the poor) as he dedicated his life to the service of mankind.
Khwaja Moin-ud-din Chishti left for heavenly abode in 1256 AD after a six day prayer in seclusion. To commemorate those six days, the annual Urs, which is attended by innumerable pilgrims irrespective of their faith, is held at Ajmer every year. The shrine (Dargah Sharif) is considered to be a place where wishes of everyone are fulfilled. During the medieval period Akbar, the great Mughal emperor also visited the Dargah Sharif and sought blessings for his son.
The Dargah Bazaar leads to the inner courtyard of the Dargah Sharif. The high gateway of the Dargah has beautifully carved silver doors. In the courtyard there are two huge cauldrons. The grave of Khwaja Moin-ud-din Chishti is surrounded by a silver railing and is partially covered with a marble screen. The prayer room for women devotees at the Dargah was built by the daughter of Shah Jahan, the Mughal king. In the premises of the Dargah Sharif there are tombs of Khwaja’s daughter, Bibi Hafiz Jama and the tomb of Shah Jahan’s daughter.
The Golden Temple or “Darbar Sahib” at Amritsar is the most sacred place for the Sikhs. The Golden temple symbolizes the magnificence of the Sikhs all over the world. The Golden Temple also known as Harmandir Sahib is an example of the spirit of tolerance and acceptance that the Sikh philosophy propounds. In the architecture of the Golden temple are included symbols associated with places of worship of other religions. The Sikhs and people of other religions pay visit to Amritsar and to pay obeisance at Sri Harmandir Sahib.
Guru Arjan Singh got the foundation of the Golden temple laid by a Sufi saint Mian Mir of Lahore in December, 1588. The construction work was directly supervised by Guru Arjan Sahib himself. Sri Harmandir Sahib is built on a 67ft. square platform in the centre of a Sarovar (tank). The Golden temple has entrance from all the four sides and is accessible to every person without any distinction of Caste, creed, sex and religion. There is a 13 ft circumambulatory path around the main shrine. It was mainly in the nineteenth century, during the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, that the people lavished their wealth on the Golden temple.
The Guru Granth Sahib, the holy book of the Sikhs, was installed in the Harmandir Sahib in 1604. The location of the Granth Sahib here, adds to the sanctity and veneration of the Harmandir Sahib. Here lies the spirit and soul of Sikhism. This symbol of abiding faith and tolerance is held in high esteem by every Sikh. The Golden temple is the place which every Sikh dreams of visiting. Golden Temple tour is a must for the Sikhs coming to India.
The founder of Buddhism, Gautama Buddha, attained enlightenment under the sacred Bodhi tree at Bodhgaya. Bodhgaya is one of the four most sacred pilgrim age places for the Buddhists. The other three sacred places of Buddhists are Lumbini (Buddha’s place of birth), Sarnath (the site of his first sermon) and Kushinagar (place where he left his body). Buddhists from all over the world visit the holy site of Bodh Gaya. They have also built many Buddhist temples at Bodhgaya. Bodh Gaya is located about 13 km from Gaya, 450 km from Kolkata and 90 km from of Patna, the capital of Bihar state.
Pilgrimage Attractions At Bodhgaya
The Mahabodhi Temple is located where Lord Buddha’s got enlightenment. The present Mahabodhi temple was restored around 1880 AD. Besides the main Mahabodhi temple there are several other temples at the place. In the inner sanctuary of the temple there is a huge statue of Lord Buddha. In the center of the temple there is a Shiva-lingam that was installed around 860 AD.
It was under the Bodhi tree that Buddha attained enlightenment. A sapling of the original bodhi tree was carried by Ashoka’s daughter (Sanghamitta) to Sri Lanka. That tree is situated at Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka. A cutting from the Bodhi tree of Anuradhapura was planted at Bodhgaya when the original tree died.
Vajrasana (the seat of stability) is believed to be the same seat that Buddha sat, while performing meditation. The stone platform, under the Bodhi tree symbolizes the Vajrasana.
Other places of importance at Bodhgaya are Chankaramana (sacred spot of the Buddha’s meditative perambulations), Arimeshlochana (place where Buddha spent one week here looking towards the great Mahabodhi Tree out of gratitude) and Ratnagar (Buddha spent one week here and it is believed that five colors came out of his body).
Har ki Pauri (Haridwar)
Haridwar is one of the most important Hindu pilgrim places of India. Haridwar has very rich religious and cultural heritage. In the Hindu scriptures, Haridwar is known by the name of Mayapur. Kumbh Mela (fair) is organized at the interval of every 12 years at Haridwar, in which about 1 crore pilgrims from all over the world participate. Besides its religious importance, Haridwar is also known for IIT (Roorkee), BHEL (Bharat Heavy Electrical India Ltd.), Gurukul Kangri Vishwa Vidyalaya and HQ of Uttaranchal State Public Service Commission.
Haridwar is located at the foothills of the Himalayas and is the point where River Ganga reaches the plains. Haridwar is an important Hindu pilgrimage place since ancient times and is called the gateway to heaven. Even the Chinese pilgrim Hyuen Tsang, who visited India in the first millennium CE, mentions about Haridwar. He calls Haridwar as Mayura. The landscape of Haridwar is dominated by thousands of temples and ashrams and takes the visitors into a totally different world. According to legends, King Bhagiratha brought the Ganges on the earth at this place, where his ancestors were burnt to ashes by the curse of the sage Kapila.
There are numerous bathing Ghats at Haridwar. The most sacred bathing spots at Haridwar are Gangadwara, Kankhal, Nila Parvata, Bilwa Teertha and Kusavarta. Hari-ki-Pairi (known for footprint of Vishnu) is the main Ghat at Haridwar. The most fascinating sight at Haridwar is the Ganga Aarti, held every evening at 7. The Ganga Aarti is a spectacular sight as it is performed in all temples at the same time. Hundreds and thousands of devotees crowd the Ghats at Hari-ki-Pairi to participate in the evening Aarti. The Aarti ceremony is followed by offerings of lamps and flowers to River Ganga, which makes a spectacular sight.
This suspended Iron bridge was build in 1939 and has been a major attraction among the tourists to Rishikesh. It is said that Lakshman crossed Ganga on jute ropes between the place where this bridge is built. The Ganges appears very panoramic from the bridge.
One can enjoy the picturesque surroundings and the cool breeze from the River while standing on the bridge. If you feel like feeding the fish in the Ganges, take a boat and cross the river. The boat ride makes the bridge appear more gorgeous. Close to LakshmanJuhla is the Ram Jhula – This suspended bridge was recently build between Shivanand Ashram and Sawarg Ashram. It is similar to the Lakshman Jhula. Ram Juhla is also known as Shivanand Jhula.
On the Rishikesh Trip visit the famous Bharat Temple. Built by Adiguru Shankra Chrya around 12th century, Bharat Mandir is situated in the heart of the old town on the Banks of the Ganges. Detailed account of this oldest temple of Rishikesh are available in anciant record of Kearkhand. The Inner sanctum of the temple has the idol of lord Vishnu, carved out of a single Saligram. In the inner canopy above the idol is shree yantra installed by Adi Sankraya Charya. The original temple was destroyed by Tamur lane in 1398 A.D. Lot of old statues , coins, pots and other things of historical importance were found in recent excavations in the premises of the temple.
On teh Rishikesh things to see second on list comes Parmarth Niketan. One of the most renowned temple complex and ashram in the area . Known for its substantial work on Hinduism, three is a school run on traditional Indian Patterns. The ashram organises excellent Ganga Arti and Hawan on the Parmarth Ghat every evening.
“When global orange sun suspended, waits low amid the red/yellow streaked horizon, then all these combine to give this town a very special evening. The temple bells roar, priests enchant mantras. Immersed in sublimation stand the pilgrims . Cupped leaves, with saffron marigold petals and a small candle flame, flickering ride the current of water of wisdom. Suddenly the sky darkens , spreading a blanket of stillness. Everything stops, except the sound of current , which has just sunk the tiny flames of cupped leaves, few minutes back”.
Transcendental Centre of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi:Situated on the extreme end of Geeta Bhawan area , Marishi’s TM centre is situated in the peaceful forest area. Once the most active branch has nothing much to offer to the visitors today.
Among the Rishikesh places to visit rive to Kunja Puri, one of the thirteen most important Goddesses of Shivalik range , the lower Himalayas.One can witness excellent sunrise or sun set on the Greater Hiamalayan Peaks and the vast Indo Gangetic plains . One can see almost all the peaks of Garhwal Himalayas from here eg Banderpunch (6316 Mts), Swarga Rohini (6252 Mts), Gangotri ( 6672 mts), Chaukhamba (7138 mts) etc.
One hour drive from Rishikesh up river is situated Vasishtha Goofa , where famous saint Vasishtha meditated on the banks of the Ganges. The cave is very peaceful and is a perfect place for meditation.
Close to Trivenighat is the most ancient place, the Rishikund. Anciant records relate this to Kubz Saint , who was blessed by the Goddess Yamuna by saturating this pond by its water.The pond reflects the temple of Ragunath , deidicated to lord Rama and his wife.
The main Ghat in the town area where most of the pilgrims take holy dip. Every evening hundreds of pilgrims attend the Rishikesh Ganga Arti at the Ghat.
Mythology says that in the ancient times when the ocean was being churned for ‘amrit’ (Potion for immortality), first venom oozed out. Lord Shiva drank the venom at a place which is now called Nilkanth Mahadeo. It is 12 kms from Rishikesh and is surrounded by peaceful forests. Other important attractions of teh city are hihjlighted on Rishikesh map.
Rishikesh Tourism :Rishikesh Uttaranchal is located in the northern part of Uttar Pradesh. It is 238 km northeast of Delhi and 24 km north of Haridwar and spreads on the right banks of the Ganges, at its confluence with the Chandrabhaga stream. It is surrounded by hills on three sides and is perched at an altitude of 356 meters above sea level. The name Rishikesh is loosely applied to an association of five distinct sections encompassing not only the town but also hamlets and settlements on both sides of the river.
These include Rishikesh itself, the commercial and communication hub; the sprawling suburban Muni-ki-Reti or the “sands of the sages”; Shivananda Nagar, north of Rishikesh; the temple section of Lakshmanjhula, a little further north; and the assorted ashrams around Swarg Ashram on the east bank. In Rishikesh, the winters last from November to March, when temperatures fall below 0°C. The monsoons are generally experienced in the months of July and August.
Nashik is famous as one of the important pilgrimage centers of India. According to mythology Rama, the king of Ayodhya, made Nashik his temporary residence during the 14 years of his exile. Besides its religious importance, Nashik has been a center of trade and commerce for centuries. Nashik finds mention in ancient Indian literature as well. Poets like Valmiki, Kalidas and Bhavabhooti have paid rich tributes to Nashik in many of their works.
A mixture of ancient and modern values, Nashik is a bustling township. There are several forts and temples in Nashik. Nashik is also the home to many industries. The Security Printing Press of the government, which prints the nation’s currency, is located here. Nashik is also known for its fruits and vegetables. The yield of grapes, strawberries and onions in Nashik is amongst the highest in the country.
Attractions of Nashik
Ramkund is a holy tank and was built in 1696. Legends have it that Rama and Sita used to bathe in this tank during their exile. It is believed that by immersing a dead person’s ashes into the Kund the soul of the dead person can attain moksha or liberation.
The famous Kalaram temple was built in 1794. The temple was built with black stone, brought from the mines of Ramsej Hill. There is a beautiful gold-plated copper peak on the temple. Inside the temple there are statues of Rama, Sita and Laxman. All these icons are lavishly decorated.
There is nothing dandy or gaudy about Shirdi Sai Temple. The small temple is located in a sleepy little town called Shirdi in the state of Maharashtra in India. Don’t expect to see commercialization or fast paced life found in the metro cities. A small temple located in the middle of a dusty town may not seem like the perfect tourist attraction. This is where the Shirdi Sai Baba pilgrimage scores. This ordinary looking town is home to one of the most famous and celebrated spiritual leaders of India, Sai Baba.
Considered to be the incarnation of God, Sai Baba was an ordinary Fakir (beggar) who preached the true and meaningful teachings of God. He showed extraordinary miracles at a very young age and lived a very simple life. The incidents increased day by day and soon Sai Baba was famous all over India. He had followers from the lowest and the highest strata of the society. He was worshipped as God and till date continues to be worshipped so. The place where the temple is built is supposed to be the place where he attained enlightenment.
Every evening at 6:30, the main Aarti for Shirdi Sai Baba starts. Devotees from near and far come here and sing verses and hymns in the praise of Sai Baba. The Aarti looks no less than a festival with abundant flower decorations and lighted lamps everywhere. More than God, he is treated as a fatherly figure who gets royal treatment from his children (read devotees). In fact, after the evening aarti, he is wrapped with a blanket in winters and in summers he gets a mosquito net! The sacred ash of Sai Baba known as “Vibhuti” is distributed among the devotees along with other offerings.
Other places near Shirdi Pilgrimage that are worth the visit are:
The Dwarkamayee Masjid is an old mosque where Sai Baba used to sit all day long. The stone that he used as his seat is still preserved along with a portrait of Sai Baba that was painted during his lifetime.
Situated at the east of Dwarkamayee, it was at this place that Sai Baba used to rest every alternate night. There are a number of portraits of deities over here. A wooden plank used by Baba is still preserved and kept over here.
This small temple dedicated to Lord Shiva is situated on the Ahmednagar road. It is said that Sai Baba was first addressed as “Ya Sai” over here by the Mahalsapati (chief priest in Shirdi).
Mahadev, Shani and Ganesh Temples
These three temples are situated in a line, one after the other. The Mahadev Temple is the oldest of all and is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The Shani Temple is dedicated to the Saturn God and the Ganesha Temple is also said to have existed since a long time.
India is the land where Jainism originated. Today, around 3.2 million Jain devotees live in India. Across the length and breadth of India lay the Jain temples and shrines and hold immense attraction for all those who desire to see the great Jain architectural splendor, and to know and understand the teachings of Lord Mahavira and the other Jain Tirthankars. The essence of Jain religion and its preaching is very well reflected in different Jain temples and shrines. It is really a state of pure bliss to explore history, religion, art and culture of the Jains.
Dilwara Temples, Rajasthan
The Dilwara temples are located around Mount Abu, a famous Hill station of Rajasthan. The Dilwara temples date back to the 11th to the 13th century AD and are famous world-wide for spectacular use of marble. The renowned marble temples of Dilwara are one of the most sacred pilgrimage places of the Jains. They are an awesome blend of simple beauty and wonderful grace. The marble temples have an opulent entranceway
Palitana Temples, Gujarat
Palitana Jain temples are believed to be the most sacred of all the Jain temples. The Palitana temples are located on Shetrunjaya hills and comprise of 863 temples, elegantly engraved in marble. Palitana was the capital of the princely state of the Gohil Rajputs. The Palitana temples are simpler than other Jain temples with their profusion of sculptures and carving, but they are no less impressive. Many of the smaller temples have used white plaster for their principal walls, saving the marble for the domes and spires.
Ranakpur is located in Rajasthan. It is one of the five most important pilgrimage sites of Jainism. Ranakpur is probably the most extensive of Jain temples in India, covering 40,000 square feet (3600m). The Ranakpur temple can be called a treasure house of pillars. The pillars are arranged in such a manner that none of them obstructs the view of the pilgrims wishing to have a `Darshan’ (glimpse). From any corner of the temple one can easily view the Lord’s image. It is believed that there are about 1444 pillars in the Ranakpur temple.
Shravanbelagola is a great centre for Jain culture. It is situated at a distance of about 100 km from Mysore. Shravanbelagola is famous for its colossal statue of Gomateshwara, who is also referred to as Lord Bahubali. The statue is carved out of monolithic stone and is 17 meter high. It can be seen from a distance of even 20 km.
Meenakshi Temple Information : No text can do justice to the Meenakshi Madurai. The gigantic temple complex, the statues exploring the entire range of human emotions, everything here is larger than life. The Meenakshi temple complex is a city temple – one of the largest and certainly one of the most ancient. According to legend Madurai is the actual site where the wedding between Shiva and Meenakshi took place. The soaring and exquisitely carved towers enclose the temple dedicated to Meenakashi. The south gateway contains the twin temples of Shiva and Meenakshi and is about nine storeys high.
The Origin Of The Meenakshi Temple India
The Sri Meenakshi Sundareswara temple and Madurai city originated together. According to tradition, Indra once committed sin when he killed a demon, who was then performing penance. He could find no relief from remorse in his own kingdom. He came down to earth. While passing through a forest of Kadamba trees in Pandya land, he felt relieved of his burden. His servitors told him that there was a Shivalinga under a Kadamba tree and beside a lake. Certain that it was the Linga that had helped him; he worshipped it and built a small temple around it. It is believed that it is this Linga, which is till under worship in the Madurai temple. The shrine is called the “Indra Vimana”. Also know who built Meenakshi Temple.
Once Dhananjaya, a merchant of Manavur, where the Pandyas had arrived after the second deluge in Kumari Kandam, having been overtaken by nightfall in Kadamba forest, spent the night in the Indra Vimana. When next morning he woke up, he was surprised to see signs of worship. Thinking that it must be the work of the Devas, he told the Pandya, Kulasekhara, in Manavur, of this. Meanwhile Lord Shiva had instructed Pandya in a dream to build a temple and a city at the spot Dhananjaya would indicate. Kulasekhara did so. Thus originated the temple and city.
Char Dham (sacred Hindu shrines of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri) are situated in the snow-covered reaches of the lofty Garhwal Himalayas, Uttaranchal. This part of the Himalayas is referred as the land of the gods in the ancient Hindu mythology. The Char Dham Yatra (pilgrimage) is popular among the Hindus that thousands of pilgrims visit these four holy shrines every year.
Devotees visit the four Dham (shrines) all for a spiritual union with the divine. The Chal Dham Yatra is popular for centuries. In fact, these places have been described in sacred scriptures as those places where devotees could earn the virtues of all the pilgrimages put together. With the passage of time these four Dhams came to have numerous temples. All the four holy shrines (Char Dham) are located at a height of more than 3,000 m above sea level. Since the shrines are covered with snow in winters, it is generally advised to go for Char Dham Yatra during summer months.
Badrinath Temple is located in the state of Uttranchal in India. Nestled between the twin mountains of “Nar” and “Narayan”, the holy Badrinath pilgrimage is visited by scores of devotees every year. It is mentioned in the holy scriptures and its holiness is emphasized by a saying that means, “There may be many sacred pilgrimages in the heaven, earth and the nether world, but there has been none equal to Badrinath, nor shall there be”. This lovely temple is located at a height of around 10,250 feet above sea level and the surrounding landscape provides breathtaking visuals.
Adi Shankaracharya, the famous Hindu philosopher saint of 8th century, constructed the present temple. It has been renovated and reconstructed a number of times since it was damaged by earthquakes, avalanches and landslides. The main priest at the temple is a Namboodri from Kerala. The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu of the Hindu trinity of Gods, who is seen in a meditative pose. The temple is divided into three main chambers namely Garbha Griha (main sanctorum where the idol is placed), Darshan Mandap (where religious ceremonies take place) and the Sabha Mandap (where all devotees assemble).
There are fifteen idols in total in the temple complex, all of which are made of black stone. The main idol of Lord Vishnu is sitting in a meditative pose with cross legs and folded hands. Some people claim that it resembles Lord Buddha, though Buddha is supposed to be the ninth incarnation of Lord Vishnu. The temple is closed during the winter season since the temperatures drop below zero. It is open from April-May to October- November. It is recommended that you take heavy woolens whenever you visit the temple. The trail that leads to Badrinath is undulating due to hilly terrain and is considered quite taxing, though it is a treat for adventure lovers.
Kedarnath is situated at a height of 3,581 m. The Kedarnath shrine stone stands against the backdrop of the Kedarnath range. According to legends, the Pandavas came here to pray to Lord Shiva after great battle of Kurukshetra to atone for killing their own near and dear ones in the war. It is said that Lord Shiva kept eluding the Pandavas and sought refuge at Kedarnath in the form of a bull. On being pursued, he plunged into the ground, with his hump exposed on the earth. Legends has it that his arms surfaced at Tungnath, his face at Rudranath, belly at Madmaheshwar, his locks and head at Kalpeshwar. These spots where he reappeared form the Panch Kedar. The present Kedarnath temple is said to have been resurrected by Adi Guru Shankaracharya.
Gangotri is an important pilgrim and tourist place. Gangotri is located at 3,048 m above sea level. The Gangotri glacier is the original source of river Ganga. There is a temple dedicated to Goddess Ganga and the sacred stone where King Bhagirath is believed to have worshipped Lord Shiva. There is a natural Shivlinga submerged in the river (It is believed that Lord Shiva received the Ganges here).
Yamunotri is also an important pilgrim as well as tourist place. The shrine of Yamunotri is located at a height of about 3,235 m and is dedicated to the river Goddess, Yamuna. The main pilgrim place at Yamunotri is the temple of Goddess Yamuna. There are many hot water springs in the vicinity of the temple.
Ayodhya, a very holy city and is an important pilgrimage site. Lord Rama was born and had many of His pastimes here. It is said to have once had a perimeter of 96 miles and was the capital of Koshala. It is on the banks of the Gogra (Ghaghara or Saryu) River, bathing in which is supposed to destory even the sin of killing a Brahmin.On the right bank of the river Ghagra or Saryu, as it is called within sacred precincts, stands the holy city of Ayodhya, believed to be the birth place of Lord Rama, the seventh incarnation of lord Vishnu. Ayodhya during ancient times was known as Kosaldesa. The Atharvaveda describes it as “a city built by gods and being as prosperous as paradise itself”. The illustrious Ikshvaku of the solar clan (suryavamsa) was the ruling dynasty of this region.
Where is Omkareshwar Temple : Situated on the banks of the Narmada, Omkareshwar is one of the 12 revered Jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva. It is located at a distance of about 12 miles from Mortakka in Madhya Pradesh. The river Narmada spits into two and forms an island Mandhata or Shivapuri in the center. The shape of the island resembles that of the visual representation of the Omkara sound, Om. There are two temples here, one to Omkareshwar and one to Amareshwar.
Legend has it that the Vindhya mountain prayed to Shiva – Omkareshwara and was blessed here. Legend also has it that upon the request of the Devas, the Shivalinga split into two, one half being Omkareshwara and the other Amaleshwara or Amareshwar. King Mandhatha of the Ishvaku clan is believed to have worshiped Shiva here. The Omkareshawar temple is built in the North Indian style of architecture, with high spires. Devotees consider worship to Panchamuga Ganesha, to be very auspicious.
Known as the protector deity of Mewar, Eklingji Temple Udaipur is located about twelve miles to the North of Udaipur in Rajasthan. This deity was regarded as the pragmatic ruler by the Maharajas of Mewar – who considered themselves to be regents (Dewans) under Eklingji. A beautiful town, Eklingji attracts thousands of visitors throughout the year. This temple is said to have been founded by Acharya Viswaroopa a contemporary of Adi Sankaracharya and is linked with the Sharada Math at Dwaraka founded again by Adi Sankaracharya.
Deities: Eklingi Udaipur
Other deities housed in the temple complex include Parvati, Ganesh, Ganga, Kartikeya, Yamuna and Saraswathi. There are also small temples dedicated to Ambamata, Kalka Mata and Ganesh in the temple complex. There is another temple called Nathon Ka Mandir in the temple complex with inscriptions dating back to the 10th century CE. No worship is offered here.
Design & Framework Shiva Temples Eklingji Temple: The temple occupies an area of about 2500 sq. feet and is about 65 feet in height. The temple area is fortified and a strong wall runs around it. The main entrance to the temple on the Western side welcomes visitors into a big hall resting on profusely carved pillars. In this hall, is a silver image of Nandi. There are two more Nandis in the temple, one made of black stone and the other of brass.
Nagda is a small town situated at a distanceof about 1 kilometer from Ekjlingji. Visit Sas-bahu temple
which is a famous temple of Lord Vishnu. There are two structures present in the temple. One of them is known as “Mother in law temple” while the other is known as “daughter in law temple”. Get a chance to enjoy epic wall paintings of describing all events of Ramayana. Another prime attraction in Nagda city is the famous Jain temple. The temple is also known as ‘Adbhut’ due to its strange idol.
Puri Jagannath Temple
Puri Jagannath Temple : Situated on the eastern coast along the blue waters of the Bay of Bengal, Orissa offers to magnificent temples, sunny beaches, colourful wildlife, traditional tribal culture and a rich heritage. While
several temples have vanished or have declined in importance, the great temple of Lord Jagannath at Puri is still a living and vibrant temple. Over the centuries it has attracted kings, conquerers, religious teachers, devotees and pilgrims. In the minds of the millions of Indians, Orissa is the land of Jagannath. Among the Puri temples, temple of Lord Jagannath at Puri is one of the most sacred pilgrimage spots in India, one of the four abodes (dhamas) of the divine that lie on the four directions of the compass.
The Jagannath temple is a rekha dwell with curvilinear tower on a pancha ratha plan and was built by Ananta Barma Chodaganga Dev during 12th century A.D. and was completed by Ananga Bhima Dev.
This temple is one of the tallest monuments in the country, height is about 214 feet from the ground level. It stands on an elevated platform of stone measuring about 10 acres, which is located in the heart of the down town and presents an imposing sight.. The temple has four gates at the eastern, southern, western northern midpoints of the Meghanad Prachir and are called Lions gate, Horse Gate, Tiger Gate and the Elephant Gate respectively.
Lord Jagannath, the symbol of universal love and is worshiped in the Temple along with Balabhadra, Subhadra, Sudarshan, Madhaba, Sridevi and Bhudevi on the Ratnabedi or the bejewelled platform. The Deities, Lord Jagannath, Balabhadra, Subhadra and Chakra Sudarshan are made of margosa wood.
Maha-prasada is pure vegetarian spiritual food offered to Lord Jagannath. Just by eating this maha-prasada one makes great spiritual advancement. Every day, fifty-six varieties of prasada are offered to Lord Jagannath. The main offering of the day becomes available anywhere from 3 to 5 pm (sometimes later). The offering times are not exact and change day by day.
The splendid Jama masjid was built by Shahjahan in 1656 in the typical Mughal style with two minarets and three domes, lies to the west of the Hussainabad Imambara and is entirely free from pseudo Italian art then in vogue in Lucknow. Though Shah Jahan has the credit of building a number of mosques in Delhi, Agra, Ajmer and Lahore, the Jamamasjid or Jami masjid is by far the best and an outstanding symbol of Mughal architectural brilliance in India.
It is the country’s largest mosque, where thousands of Muslims offer prayers. It lies opposite the Red Fort and is surrounded by a large number of shops, which deal in a variety of goods. The great mosque of Old Delhi is both the largest in India and the final architectural extravagance of Shah Jahan with a courtyard capable of holding 25,000 devotees.
Jama Masjid Location
This congregational mosque stands in the city of Delhi. Built in yellow sandstone, it combines the best of Hindu and Muslim styles of architecture, standing on 260 pillars supporting 15 domes at varying elevations.
Jama Masjid History
Jama Masjid is the largest mosque in India and stands across the road from the Red Fort, built in 1656 by Shahjahan. About 25,000 people can pray here at a time.
Jama Mosque Architecture
The vast paved courtyard is a rectangle nearly seventy-five metres by sixty-six metres. The whole of the western chamber is a big hall, standing on 260 pillars all carved from Hindu and Jain traditions. The central courtyard is accessible from the East, though there are three ways on the other side too. The Eastern side entrance leads to another enclosure containing the mausoleum of Sultan Ahmed Shah. Thus it is an architectural triumph.
Near the Eastern entrance stands the ‘roja’ or the tomb of the Sultan Ahmed Shah, which was homage to the Sultan by his son Mohammed Shah II. The tomb houses the graves of three great rulers of Gujarat – Ahmed Shah I, his son, Mohammed Shah and his grandson, Qutub-Ud-Din Ahmed Shah II. After a passage of 100 years, a nobleman by the name – Farhatul Maluk repaired the tomb, who also got the walls of the mosque engraved. Today after centuries of heat and rough weather, the Masjid stands unchallenged serving as a prayer place for numerous Muslims residing in the city. Among the most popular sights of the city of Ahmedabad is the Jama Masjid, boasting of a well-proportioned architecture. It took 13 years to complete this fine example of Indo-Saracenic architecture of the Ahmed Shahi style. A white marble paved courtyard, with a pool in the middle provides a perfect pause between the raucous streets outside, and the dignity of the main sanctuary within. Nearby the Masjid are Pols and the Teen Darwaza (The Three Gates) which were meant as the royal entrance to the Maidan Shah or Royal Square. From here the Sultans used to watch the processions from the palace to the Jama Masjid.
The main imam of the Jama Masjid or we can also say old Jama masjid is the direct descendent of the original and first Imam appointed by Emperor Shahjahan and till now there is no break in its descendency. People of other religions are not allowed in between 12-30 and 2-00pm. One is allowed to enter the mosque bare-footed, head covered and wearing lungi, – these are the norms visitors have to follow and are available on payment. For taking images of Jama Masjid or Jama Masjid pictures one has to buy tickets first. For more info Jama Masjid map will help you.
Haji Ali Dargah
About Haji Ali
Honoring the Muslim saint Hazrat Haji Ali this mosque was built in the middle of the sea with only a narrow path leading to it giving it an ethereal look. As per the Muslim traditions separate praying rooms for ladies and gents are provided here to pay their respects. It is set 500 yards into the sea and can be reached only in low tide. The Haji Ali masjid has an offshore location, opposite the Mahalakshmi racecourse. During high tide, the connecting causeway is submerged in water giving the impression that the mosque and Haji Ali tomb are floating out at sea in splendid isolation. This is The Haji Ali Dargah, the floating tomb of a wealthy Mohammedan merchant who renounced his worldly ways before embarking on a pilgrimage to Mecca.
The structure is a slim solitary minaret. It is linked to the mainland by a tenuous causeway, which is practically nonnegotiable during rough monsoon, tides. Behind the sculpted entrance, a marble courtyard contains the central shrine. Hundreds of worshippers stoop to press their forehead against the richly brocaded red and green chaddar covering the tomb, lying in an exquisite silver frame supported by marble pillars and is decorated with artful mirror work: blue, green, yellow chips of glass arranged in kaleidoscopic patterns interspersed with Arabic patterns which spell the ninety-nine names of Allah.
History of Haji Ali Dargah
The legend goes that Haji Ali died on a pilgrimage to Mecca and miraculously his casket floated back to these shores. The mosque is picturesque with a vast courtyard and refreshment stalls. It contains the tomb of the Muslim saint Haji Ali. The saint is believed to have been a wealthy local businessman who renounced the material world and meditated on a nearby headland following a pilgrimage to Mecca. His devotees built the mosque and the tomb in the early 19th century. Alternate version says that Haji Ali died while on his pilgrimage to Mecca and his casket surprisingly floated back to Mumbai (then Bombay).
Attractions of the Haji Ali Mosque
The mosque can be reached only during low tide. The whitewashed mosque also has a cool courtyard generally full of people and refreshment stalls. The rocks exposed during low tide at the rare end of the mosque are a favourable spot to catch some cool sea breeze. There’s nothing somber about the building’s cool courtyard, which is generally full of chattering families and refreshment stalls.
So seek the blessings of Hazrat Ali while coming on the Haji ali darshan. And one more thing like other mosques in India here too taking the haji ali photo or Haji Ali images is not allowed.
Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya
Address: Nizamuddin City: New Delhi State: Delhi Location: North India Year of Construction: 1562-63 AD Constructed By: Muhammad Tuglaq Type of Construction: Medieval Type of Building: Mosque Religion: Islam Accomodation: Accomodations are easily available in hotels and lodges in Delhi. Accesibility: New Delhi is connected to the other major Indian cities by air, rail and road. Nizamuddin Dargah enshrines Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya or Nizam-ud-Din, a revered Sufi saint. During the lifetime of the saint, a settlement developed here, still inhabited and known by the name of Nizamuddin. Hazrat Nizam-ud-Din Auliya Dargah of Delhi also entombs Amir Khusrau, a poet and the saint’s favorite disciple. The Dargah was built by Muhammad Tughluq and consists of one of the most revered pilgrimages of the Muslims. Other tombs enshrined in the Delhi Hazrat Nizamuddin Awliya Dargah are those of Jahan Ara Begum, Shah Jahan’s daughter and Mirza Ghalib, a distinguished poet. Surrounded by a number of tombs, this Dargah is constructed on top of a tank. There is a legend attached to the Nizamuddin Dargah. It is believed that there was an argument between the rulers of Tughluqabad and the saint over building this tank. The saint, in anger, cursed the rulers that the city of Tughluqabad will never prosper and so did it happen. After its initial construction, the Dargah underwent a number of renovations and reconstructions. The present mausoleum, constructed by Faridu’n Khan, dates back to the year 1562-63. Qawwali singers perform at Hazrat Nizam-ud-Din Auliya Dargah of Delhi around sunset after the evening prayers. The square chamber of the Dargah is adorned with verandahs and arched gateways. Domed roof of the building has vertical stripes of black marble and is crowned by a lotus cresting. Even the area surrounding the tomb is considered as sacred. Many Muslims, including the royals, have been buried here. The rush for the Dargah is exceptionally heavy during Id and the Urs fair held twice a year. The Urs fair is organized bi-annually n the death anniversaries of Hazrat Nizam-ud-Din Auliya and Amir Khusrau. There are a number of monuments in the Delhi Hazrat Nizamuddin Awliya Dargah including Jama’at-Khana Masjid, Chini Ka Burj (mosque), tombs of Muhammad Shah and Mirza Jahangir, Kali-or-Kalan Masjid, etc.
The Nizamuddin’s tomb or Dargah belongs to Nizamuddin Auliya whose name is enlisted in the list of the world’s most famous Sufi saints. The Indian subcontinent experiences large following of the Sufi Chishti order of which the famous Sufi is Hazrat Nizamuddin. Having succeeded one of the other widely famous spiritual Sufi Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti of Ajmer, he was honored with several names like Sultan-ul-Mashaikh, Mehboob-e-Ilahi. However, his full name was Hazrat Shaikh Khwaja Syed Muhammad Nizamuddin Auliya. Being considered to be the fifth amongst the top five Sufi’s of the Chisti order in India his lifetime ranged between 1238 to April 3, 1325.
The popularity of this Dargah is to the extent that it is being visited by large masses every week and the visitors belong to various different religions including Hindus, Christians etc., apart from the Muslims. This tomb also encloses the tombs of famous poet Amir Khusro as well as Mughal princess Jehan Ara Begum. There is also a tomb of Inayat Khan situated at one of its corner.
The main chamber of the Dargah is square in shape and has verandahs enveloped around it that are perforated by arched openings. Lattice screens have been installed in the tombs which have been a favorite of other Muslim architecture as well. This place holds a belief that if someone ties a red thread to the screens, then their wish gets fulfilled. And, after the wish fulfillment, one has to come back and untie any thread, which will lead to wish fulfillment of another devotee who must have tied it. Visitors also engage in offering prayers, showering rose petals, and lighting incense sticks. The best day to visit the Dargah is Thursday as it is on this day special Qawwali performed and also the Dargah is decorated as a bride and adorned with the jewels of lights.
The significance of this SUFI saint is such that the area around his tomb has been named entirely on him. Following which the neighborhood has been bifurcated into two parts namin Nizamuddin West along the Mathura Road and Nizamuddin East holding the residents of upper-class which is exactly located between Humayun’s Tomb and the Nizamuddin Railway Station.
The dargah complex as well as a market widely influenced my muslim vendors lies in the Nizamuddin West. The Humayun’s Tomb, Chausath Khamba, Mirza Ghalib’s tomb, Barakhamba, Sabz Burj (Blue Gumbad) at the Nizamuddin Circle and Lal Mahal are some of the other historical hot spots located in the legendary area of Nizamuddin.
Two of the very popular Bollywood songs which are composed by A. R. Rahman have been dedicated to the Nizamuddin Auliya. The songs are soft tracks Arziyan, a Qawwali in the film Delhi 6 (2009) and Kun Faya Kun from the movie Rockstar (2011). The Rockstar film also stars Nizami brothers who are the traditional quwwals of Nizamuddin Auliya.
Kali’s Kolkata – Temples
They never said ‘Jai Kali Calcutte-wali’ for nothing.
Kolkata, in a way belongs to Kali, and the fact that city came up along the pilgrimage route between the most sacred place of Kali worship at the Kalighat Temple and one of the oldest at Chitpur Chitteswari Temple, stamps the final seal on it. Explore how Goddess Kali pervades the lives of the people of the city.
Wear comfortable and reasonably covered clothing as the tour takes you to temples and mosques which may have restrictions.
The official folder on these two places says: “Maheshwar was a glorious city in the dawn of Indian civilisation when it was known as Mahishmati, capital of King Kartvirarjun. This temple town on the banks of the river Narmada finds mention in the epics: Ramayana and Mahabharata.”
It then goes on to proclaim: “Omkareshwar, the sacred island shaped like the holiest of all Hindu symbols, OM has drawn a hundred generations of pilgrims… and here, as in so many of Madhya Pradesh’s sacred shrines, the works of nature complement those of man to provide an awe-inspiring setting in its magnificence.”
Nevertheless, the modern visitor, unmoved by such descriptions might not find these places any more impressive than many other pilgrim towns.
Having said that, however, we must admit that the spectacle of hundreds of brightly dressed devotees worshipping and bathing on these riverine landing steps or ghats, is a ‘happening’ that is unique to Hinduism.
Moreover, the temples on these ghats are excellently carved and sculpted: every pillar and panel would occupy a pride of place in any museum in the world.
In addition to these features, the temples and ghats become colourful during festivals particularly the major ones of Dussehra and Diwali.
Maheshwar is also famed for the manor, the walled mansion of the 18th century queen of Indore and the state of Holkar, Ahalyabai. She was a very wise, powerful and virtuous woman who has now been virtually deified by her subjects. She introduced and encouraged the weaving of Maheshwari saris: still a popular craft in Maheshwar.
Omkareshwar is on a temple-dotted island at the confluence of the Narmada and Kaveri rivers. During major festivals, townships of tents and huts spring up on the banks, and flotillas of decorated boats ferry pilgrims across the water. Of special interest in Omkareshwar are its Omkar Mandhata Temple with one of the 12 powerful Jyotirlinga Shiva shrines, an old palace and an akhara (headquarters of a sect of mendicants.
The most reverred 17th century shrine, dedicated Shrinathji or Lord Krishna,attracts thousands of Pilgrims from all over the country,especially during Diwali, Holi and Janmashtami when their number exceeds a lak. Foreign tourists are not permitted inside and a photograph is prohibited.
The Srinathji Temple: It is believed that Taj Bibi, a wife of Akbar had visited this temple. It was during the 17th century that this image was shifted to Rajasthan. Nathdwara is a place of Hindu pilgrimage; it contains a 17th-century Vaishnavite shrine that is one of the most famous in India. Within the temple is a celebrated image of the god Krishna, popularly said to date to the 12th century BC. The town is an agricultural market and has a government college affiliated with the University of Rajasthan.
Nav chowki: On the banks of the lake is this pillared edifice which is paved with marble and has beautifully carved arches and chhatris.
Located in the mighty Trikuta Mountains at a distance of 60 kilometers from Jammu, is the famous Vaishno Devi Temple. One of the most visited and worshipped pilgrimages in India; the Vaishno Devi shrine is the epitome of devotion and belief in the Almighty. Situated at a height of 5200 feet above sea level, the Vaishno Devi Mata pilgrimage is visited all through the year. It is better to avoid visiting this pilgrimage during severe winters as the path becomes very dangerous due to snowfall and sleet. Read on to know the legend behind the famous Vaishno Devi temple.
It is believed that more than 700 years back, a selfish demon known as Bhairon Nath came to know about a young girl named Vaishno Devi, who was the ardent devotee of Lord Shiva and supposedly the incarnation of Goddess Devi. In order to attain salvation easily, the selfish demon chased her while she was going towards the Trikuta Mountains. She quenched her thirst at a stream, which is now known as Banganga, located right at the start of the Trikuta Mountains. It is said that Vaishno Devi meditated in a cave to acquire divine powers to slay the demon. It took Bhairon Nath nine months to locate her and hence the cave is known as “Garbha Joon”.
She emerged out of the cave after intense meditation and fought the demon. She assumed the form of Goddess Kali and separated the head of the demon with one powerful blow. The head landed at a distance of 2 kilometers above the holy temple. During his last moments, Bhairon Nath pleaded to be given salvation. Since Vaishno Devi knew that he was chasing her for attaining salvation, she granted him not only salvation but also granted him a boon that devotees will not go back without visiting his temple. That is why till date, anyone visiting Vaishno Devi travels further upwards and visits the Bhairon Temple to finish the holy journey.
Devotees have to climb up the mountain for a distance of 13kilometers to reach the Vaishno Devi Temple. The path is cobbled and narrow and has the steep valley on one side. Devotees tread along this uneven path with full devotion and get the strength from the sheer belief in God. The air over here is always alive with the cries of “Jai Mata Di” in the praise of the Goddess. The Garbha Joon is located halfway and devotees have to pass through the cave that Vaishno Devi meditated in. On reaching the temple, one has to pass through another cave to get the “darshan” of the Goddess who assumed the form of three small rocks known “Pindi”. The three rocks resemble her three heads.