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SACRED SITES OF INDIA
Sacred Sites of India Sources Sacred Sites in News
  • A sacred site is an area which is regarded with reverence. For example, the cities of Badrinath, Sacred Trees Kedarnath, Amarnath and Banaras are regarded as sacred. 

  • The sanctity is not restricted to temple towns alone.

  • Sacred sites are common among tribal communities.

  • For the Todas of the Nilgiris, Kundah beyond Mukuruthi is the sacred resting place of their deity and no Toda will even set foot on the hill.

  • Similarly, Kailasa in the Himalayas, is sacred in the Himalayas and is circumambulated by pilgrims, as is Thiruvannamalai in Tamilnadu.

Badrinath, deep in the Garwal Himalayas, marks the northern geographic point of India's sacred geography. Gomukh, meaning cow's mouth, is located on a tongue of the Bhagirathi Glacier and is the source of the River Ganga. Haridwar, one of the seven sacred cities of India, is located where the Ganga river enters the north Indian plains. Every 12 years a religious fair called the Khumbh Mela attracts millions of pilgrims for a sacrificial bath. Nazi in Maharashtra and Sangam near Allahabad are other sites of the Kumbh Mela bathing festival.

Rivers lend sanctity to some places, either by being born there or joining another river there. The place of junction of two rivers is called a Sangam, of which there is a familiar illustration in the junction of the Muta and Mula, near Poona. Allahabad, also known as Triveni Sangam, is sacred to Hindus because three sacred rivers - the Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati (which is supposed to join them from beneath the ground) meet there. It is also called Prayag, or "the confluence". It is personified by a fish bearing on its back three goddesses. Similarly, Thala-Kaveri, the birth place of the river Kaveri in Coorg (Karnataka), is also considered sacred.

The subcontinent and the Ocean meet at Kanya Kumari, in Tamilnadu. The place is so sacred that a shrine is dedicated to a virgin goddess. Poetically, it is said that the Indian Ocean, with its two hands, the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal, washes the feet of the goddess of India, Kanya Kumari.

Places are considered sacred because of the sacred events that have occurred there at some point of time. The seven sacred Indian cities, a visit to which confers eternal happiness, are considered sacred for the following reasons: Ayodhya - the birth and life of Sri Rama; Mathura, - associated with the birth and exploits of Sri Krishna; Bodh - Gaya (Buddha Gaya) - where Buddha was enlightened under the Bodhi tree; Gaya - the city of Illusion; Kashi (Benares) - the supreme centre of the Hindu religion and Sanskrit learning; its deity god Vishvanatha, is famed throughout the length and breadth of India; Episcopal seats established by the great Saint Sankaracharya at Kanchipuram (Kamakshipita), Sringeri (Sharada Math), Puri (Govardhana Math), Dwaraka (Kalika Math) and Badrinath (Jotir Math). Avanti, or Avantika (Ujjayini) - the germs of all living beings are supposed to have survived the Flood preserved in the central image of Mahadeo on the great Mahakal temple, located in this city.

Rameswaram, located on the peninsula in southern Tamilnadu, is the southern axis of the sacred spaces delineated by the four sacred abodes of Vishnu. The place derives its sanctity from its traditional association with the presence of Rama, the hero of the epic Ramayana.

Amarnath, in the Himalayas contains a cave sacred to Siva, where a Sivalinga, formed naturally of ice, increases and decreases with the moon. Many pilgrims visit the sacred cave in the month of Sravana (July - August), and the natural phenomenon makes Amarnath sacred. 

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