Life is a continuous process, body is temporary…so believes Hinduism. Soul moves from Body to Body through different births, going up or down the ladder through Karma. A good deed earns you a better birth and life. And one among the many good Karma is visiting the abodes of Gods. Thus, Pilgrimage is considered as an integral part in the philosophy of karma in Hinduism.
God is in everywhere, in various forms. One may find numerous Hindu deity temple of various shapes and sizes across the world, but the top among them are the Dhams (In Sanskrit, Dham means a pilgrim spot) along with many serene abodes of Gods. In India there are four principal Dhams, situated in the four corners of the country. In North, there is Badrinath (Lord Vishnu), in south there is Rameshwaram, followed by Dwarka in the west and Jagannath Puri in the east. In three among the four Dhams, the presiding deity Lord Vishnu, and Lord Shiva at Rameshwaram. This places was installed by Ram, an avatar of Lord Vishnu himself.
In the olden days, it was extremely difficult to go on a pilgrimage. Thus it was always done at the last stages of life. People leaving on pilgrimage were never expected back. And if anyone does, he or she was considered to be extremely lucky and has the blessings of the Gods. Today, with better infrastructure and communication, one may go on a pilgrimage many time over. Almost all holy places are connected through trains, planes and buses. Belief in the concept of God has increased, and so does the traffic.
There are numerous places to religious interest in Hinduism beyond the four Dhams. Here is PlacPic’s list of Hindu Pilgrimage spots. These places are introduced by the users. This is PlacPic’s first list of Hindu Temples.
Varanasi or Benares, situated on the banks of the Ganges is considered one of the holiest for Hindus. The name ‘Varanasi’ is formed with the names two tributaries of the Ganges. Varuna and Assi. The city has a reference in the Rigveda as Kashi.
Believed to be founded by Lord Shiva himself, Varanasi is also a cultural and religious center of importance. According to Hinduism, it is believe that a death here will bring salvation. The city is known for the river Ganges and it’s many ghats, a place where pilgrims perform rituals. Dashashwamedh Ghat, Panchganga Ghat, Manikarnika Ghat and Harishchandra Ghat are of importance. Manikarnika Ghat and Harishchandra Ghat are places where Hindu cremate their dead and register their family genealogy.
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Kalighat is revered as a one of the most important Shakti Peetha out of the total 51 in India. Hindus believe the Shakti Peethas are the divine seats of Shakti, which were formed with the falling of body parts of the Devi Sati, when Lord Shiva, while in sorrow wandered throughout Aryavartha carrying her dead body. Kalighat has Devi Sati’s right toe, but according to some puranas, it is her face. Every Peetha have shrines for Shakti and Kalabhairava. In Kalighat, Shakti is Kalika and Kalabhairava is Nakuleshwar.
The Devi at Kalighat has an incomplete image. The face was created first, and later on the hands, the tongue, her jewellery and also the Shiva statue made of of gold and silver were added. Days like the Kali Puja, Durga Puja, Poila Boishakh, Bengali New Year and Sankrant are considered auspicious and flocked by devotees in large numbers.
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Lingaraja Temple is dedicated to Lord Harihara, a form of Shiva and Vishnu. The temple situated in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, is constructed in Kalinga Architecture by the kings from the Somavamsi dynasty, and later the Ganga Dynasty. The temple has four parts, Vimana, Jagamohana, Natamandira & Bhogamandapa. The temple compound is decorated with 50 more shrines.
The deity of Lingaraj, was originally under a mango tree. The linga shape vame about in Kaliyug and now it is inside the temple is a natural unshaped stone that rests on a Shakti, called Krutibasa or Swayambhu. There are 64 self emerging lingas are there in India.
Apart from the Mahashivratri celebration, Lingaraj temple has an unique chariot festival or Ratha-Yatra. On Ashokashtami, the Lord is taken in a chariot to Rameshwar Deula temple, with his sister Rukmani. Probably influenced by the Rath Yatra of Puri.
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Approximately 25,000 black rats and a Goddess. This is the Karni Mata Temple, 30 km from Bikaner, Rajasthan. The holy rats in the temple are called kabbas, and many people travel here to pay respect. According to legend, Karni Mata’s stepson Laxman, while drinking water from a pond in Kapil Sarovar, fell into it and died. Karni Mata requested the god of death Yama, to revive him. After much deliberation, Yama eventually relented, allowing Laxman and all of Karni mata’s male children to be reincarnated as rats. But another legend says that, an army of 20,000 ran away from a battle, and were punished for for commiting the sin of desertion, which is desth sentence. Karni Mata forgave them but turned them into rats, while allowing them to stay at the temple. It is believed that, eating the food that has been nibbled by the rats is of high honor.
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Right in the middle of the picturesque Chilka Lake, this is the beautiful Kalijai Temple, located on an island. This is considered to be the abode of the Goddess Kalijai, a form of Goddess Kali, the source and the first ‘Mahavidya’ of ‘Dasmahavidyas’. The Goddess is highly revered, and has been worshiped in the local myth and folklore.
Jaai, a newly married girl was travelling in a boat across the lake, to her in-laws place accompanied with her father. They were hit by a severe Cyclone, and their boat capsized in the Lake. Everyone survived except Jaai. The effort to search brought about no results, and no one saw Jaai again. The newly married girl, became the Goddess of people residing nearby and till now, she is worshiped as a form of Kali. Kali and Jaai together became Kalijai.
Every year in January, a huge gala fair is held during the festival of Makar Sankranti.
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In the next part, there will be even more interesting temples with attached legends that will be quite enchanting for you to read. These places are all introduced by our esteemed users. Know a Place and a legend associated with it? What are you waiting for. Visit PlacPic.com, and introduce a place. Till then watch this space for more trivia with places.