India is a kaleidoscope of religions and cultures. India's
glorious diversity extends to religious life as well. In words it is very
difficult to explain how so many distinct and different traditions
together form one India.
India is a kaleidoscope of religions and cultures. India's glorious diversity extends to religious life as well. In words it is very difficult to explain how so many distinct and different traditions together form one India. It has to be seen and experienced. Boasting a lively pantheon of deities that smile from exquisitely sculpted temple gopura, the Hindu religion absorbs beliefs and philosophies from all over, thus practices frequently differ from place to place. Nevertheless the basic tenets of Hinduism were laid out in the Vedas, and describe the goal of uniting with Brahma, the creator, via a life of asceticism and meditation. Hindu belief includes the concept of samsara, the cycle of death and rebirth, and release from samsara, or moksha.
The other religions prevalent in India are Buddhism, Islam, Sikhism, Jainism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity and Judaism.
In this ancient city of pilgrimage, the bathing ghats are the main attraction. There are over 100 ghats in Varanasi that line the western bank of the River Ganges. People flock here in large numbers every day to take bath and worship in the temples built beside the river bank. The centuries old tradition to offer 'puja' to the rising Sun is still done with religious fervor and gaiety.
Rishikesh located in the laps of lower Himalayas is just 24 Kms from Haridwar, this place is considered to be the access point of three other pilgrim places of Badrinath - Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri the four great places which combine to make Chardham. Rishikesh is surrounded by scenic beauty of the hills on three sides with Holy Ganga flowing through it.
The whole place is considered to be sacred as it is believed that meditation at this place leads to attainment of salvation. There are many temples-some ancient, some new along the river Ganges. The River side is dotted by the ashrams of Sadhus and sages. Rishikesh is also famous for ashrams teaching of Yoga.
Haridwar which is also considered the gateway of the four pilgrimages in the Uttrakhand region, is located on the foot hills of Shivaliks. It lies on the banks of River Ganga. Haridwar is the first city which is touched by the river Ganga when it enters the northern plains. Though the Ganges does not lose its rapids completely, nevertheless it becomes very quite and calm here. The ghats on the bank of river Ganga is considered pious and people prefer taking bath on shores. It is said that taking bath here purifies the soul and opens the way for the ultimate freedom, Nirvana.
Kanyakumari is located at the southern tip of the Indian subcontinent. The small temple dedicated to Kanyakumari, or the youthful form of the primeval energy Shakti (Mother Goddess) is located on the seashore, in the town known by the same name. Kanyakumari was referred to by the British as Cape Commorin. The Kanyakumari temple is an ancient one and has been mentioned in the Ramayana, Mahabharata, and the Sangam works Manimekalai and Puranaanooru. It is believed that the image of Kanyakumari was installed and worshipped by Parasurama. It also represents the site where the spiritual leader Swami Vivekananda spent days in meditation upon a rock off of the coast.
The Himalayas with its glorious peaks, crystal clear mountain streams and dense forests has been known as Dev Bhoomi, the land of the Gods. Nestling in the lofty peaks are the four most holy pilgrimages of India -Yamunotri, Gangotri, Sri Kedarnathji and Sri Badrinathji, collectively referred to as the Char Dham ( or four pilgrimage centres) of Hinduism. For centuries, saints and pilgrims, in their search for the divine, have walked these mystical vales known in ancient Hindu scriptures as 'Kedarkhand'.