More Photographs #4
One of the prominent places of pilgrimage is Kuruksetra, where Lord Krishna spoke the Bhagavad-gita. It was near this banyan tree seen on the left which was the spot where Krishna spoke this timeless philosophy to His friend Arjuna 5,000 years ago just before the battle that took place here. This location is only about three hours north of Delhi by train, and many people come to visit this holy site. It is only one of the many thousands of places that actually mark where such sacred pastimes and legends happened.
Another of the foremost holy places that thousands of pilgrims visit is in the Himalayan mountains, known as Badrinatha. This is a temple of Lord Narayana, Vishnu. Not far away is an area known as Badarikashrama where Srila Vyasadeva stayed while writing such portions of Vedic literature as the Mahabharata and Srimad-Bhagavatam. It is said that he still lives there to this day.
Another important holy place is Gangotri near the source of the sacred Ganges River. On the left we can see it as it forcibly descends down through the mountains and over the Sahasradhara Falls on its way through the hills and to the plains of India. Many beautiful mountain views are also available in this region, as seen in the photo on the right.
As we travel through the northern areas of India, we will see numerous sadhus, traveling holy men, in any of the places we visit. This is especially true of towns like Haridwar and Rishikesh. On the left we find a Vaishnava holy man who worships Lord Krishna and Lord Rama, as marked by his tilok on his forehead. On the right, we see a renounced sannyasi of the Shaivite order, who worships Lord Shiva as the Supreme. They often drift from town to town, preaching as they go.
On our way back down from the mountains we can stop and visit the holy town of Rishikesh. This town, along with Haridwara, marks the entrance and exit ways to the land of the Gods, meaning the Himalayan mountains and the numerous holy sites within the region. Here we will find an assortment of both old and newer temples, as can be seen by the Lakshmana Jula suspension bridge on the northern end of Rishikesh.
As we begin to reach the end of a day in India, we can see the evening ceremony called the Ganga Puja, in which they worship the Ganges River with large ghee lamps. Hundreds of people turn up for this event each night, which helps make this a daily festival. Haridwar has some of the most ancient of holy sites, marked by important temples. It also has some of the most modern temples, too.
After the evening arati ceremony to the Ganges, people wander through the city in a festive mood, sometimes stopping to sit near the river and hear the Vedic stories and philosophy as seen here.
As our day reaches its end, we can relax and contemplate where all we have been and how it has affected us. Here we can see the boatman taking his boat across the river for the last time of this day. The sun is setting and the calm soothing waters of the sacred Yamuna River flow past the outskirts of the holy town of Vrindavana. India has little competition for the numerous experiences it can offer the traveler and tourist, and many more for the seeker of spiritual truth. The experiences can be difficult, as well as exhilarating. It is all up to what you make of it and how you see it.
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