The uniqueness of Hinduism and Hindu practices has its root in the ethno-cultural diversity of the people of India and a myriad of customs practiced by them for centuries. Prolonged interaction among the diverse groups led to the advent of “Vedism” which introduced the worship of gods of rain, fire and the sun. In course of time, a wide variety of religious beliefs and customs, ranging from the simple animistic worship of nature spirits in the rock, tree and river to highly codified rituals, carved their niches in the liberal platform of Hinduism.
Hindu pilgrimages are sacred destinations where one can enjoy the beauty of both the aspects of Hindu philosophy. Presence of nature’s best gifts like astounding caves, lush green forests, flowing rivers etc at the site of Hindu pilgrimages reflects its association with the philosophy of animism. Importance of rituals, the second important approach of Hinduism practitioners can be observed by travelling to Hindu pilgrimages.
The modern Hindu philosophy focuses on a trinity of Gods namely, Shiva, Vishnu and Shakti. Hindu sacred places are often linked with the blessings of this trinity worshipped by the majority of devotees. Lord Vishnu and his various incarnations are worshipped in the holy temples of Tirupati and Rameshwarm in southern India, Jagannath Puri temples in eastern coast and their presence is welcomed in the temples of Badrinath , Haridwar and Vridanban in North. Similarly, Lord Shiva is believed to dwell and bless the devotees visiting the sacred shrines of Kedarnath and Amarnath. The Cave of Vaishno Devi derived sacredness from Maa Vaishno Devi who was the embodiment of “Shakti”.
Gangotri and Yamunotri are also among the most sought after Hindu religious destinations frequented by pilgrims where they can enjoy bathing in the holy waters of river Ganga and Yamuna. The other major places of Hindu Pilgrimage include Varanasi, Nava Graha Sthala temples of nine planets, Maths started by Sri Shankracharya , the shakti peeth temples, Panch Bhutha linga temple and yes visit to 7 religious rivers of India namely Ganga , Yamuna , Godavari, Saraswati, Sarayu, Kaveri and Narmada.