Pilgrimage

Pilgrimage is called yatra (meaning a spiritual journey). Places of pilgrimage are chosen because of their geographic significance (like the Himalayas or the holy river Ganges), or their historic and mythological importance (a holy personality may be associated with that place). The key places of pilgrimage are: Varanasi which is on the bank of the holy river Ganges. It is considered to be the abode of Shiva one of the principle deities of Hinduism. Most Hindu religious teachers have either lived or preached in Varanasi. Vrindavan is another popular place of pilgrimage because it is associated with the life of Krishna another popular deity in the Hindu tradition. It is on the bank of the holy river Yamuna. Ayodhya is a place of pilgrimage on the bank of the river Sarayu and is associated with the life of Rama a popular deity in Hinduism.

Reducing distance between humanity and God: the places of pilgrimage are called tirtha (meaning a bridge to cross over to a spiritual plane). The process of going on a pilgrimage is seen as a spiritual journey. One hopes to visit the temples dedicated to the central deity associated with that place and catch sight (darshan) of the deity. The devotee gets a chance to meet holy people who live at these places of pilgrimage and may spend time there carrying out spiritual austerities. Some decide to spend the rest of their lives at these places, hoping that they will reach God when they pass on.

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