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Pilgrimages of Himachal Himalayas


Manikaran - A famous pilgrimage of Shiva-Parvati: Manikaran is a famous pilgrimage located in the Parvati Valley of Himachal Himalayas between the rivers Beas and Parvati northeast of Bhuntur at an altitude of 1760 m. It is 45 km from Kullu. Manikaran is associated with the legend of Shiva-Parvati.

- Legend of Shiva and Parvati: According to legend, once Lord Shiva and Devi Parvati were wandering in the forests of the Himalayas. They came to a beautiful place where the high mountains locked lush green forests within them. They were charmed by that place and lived there for eleven hundred years. Once when Shiva-Parvati were resting beside the beautiful waters of a stream, a jewel (mani) from the ear-ring of Devi Parvati dropped somewhere and got lost. She was highly distressed. The jewel could not be found even after a thorough search by the attendants of the Lord. Lord Shiva was enraged and his third eye opened. Due to this ominous event, there was commotion in the universe. The serpent god Shesh Nag was deputed to subside the anger of the Lord. Shesh Nag went there and hissed repeatedly. The streams became hot and water started boiling. From inside the boiling water came out a number of precious stones of the type of the mani of Devi Parvati. Shiva was pacified.

- Hot springs: Manikaran is famous for its many hot springs which are considered very auspicious.

- Temples: The place has a very old Shiva temple which got tilted during the earthquake of 1905. There is also a famous temple of Lord Raghunath in Manikaran village, the idol of which is said to be brought from Ayodhya.

- Manikaran is located in the Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh.

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Baijnath Temple - Jyotirlinga: Baijnath is a famous temple of Shiva identified with the Vaidyanath Jyotirlinga. It is located in the Dhauladhar range of western Himalayas, 16 km from Palampur. The town is located on the bank of river Binwa, a corrupt form of ancient Binduka, a tributary of river Beas.

- Ancient Kiragrama: Baijnath was known as Kiragrama in ancient times. The Vaidyanath Jyotirlinga existed in Kiragrama without a temple. On 1204 CE, two brothers named Manyuka and Ahuka who were sons of merchant Siddha built a temple out of devotion to Vaidyanath Shiva. They also donated a machine for extracting oil, a shop, and some land in village called Navagrama. This is the earliest history of the modern Baijnath Temple.

- Swayambhu Shivalinga Inside the temple garbhagriha is a swayambhu Shivalinga which is believed to be an Ardhanarishwara form of Shiva. The yonipitha is made of white marble with a design of serpent around it. A beautiful snake made of silver, with raised hood is placed around the lingam.

- The Baijnath temple is located in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh.

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Jwalamukhi Shakti Peetha:

Jwalamukhi Shakti Peetha Jwalamukhi Shakti Peetha Jwalamukhi Shakti Peetha is mentioned in the Peetha Nirnaya texts. Jwalamukhi Shakti Peetha is identified with Devi Jwalamukhi temple in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh. There is no idol of the Devi. An eternally burning shining blue flame which emanates from the rock sanctum is considered as the manifestation of the Goddess. There are several other flames which are considered as manifestations of different Goddesses.

- Legend: According to legend the Jihvaa (Tongue) of Devi had fallen here. The Devi here is known as Siddhidaa and Bhairava is known as Unmatta.
(Refer to the Shakti Peetha Stotram)

Jwalamukhi is located in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh.

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Vajreshwari Devi:

Vajreshwari Devi Temple - A famous temple of Devi Parvati: Vajreshwari Devi Temple is located in Nagarkot town, 20 km from Dharamshala. Vajreshwari Devi is also known as Kangra Devi by the locals. The temple dates back to 11th century.

- Legend of Devi Vajreshwari: According to a legend, a demon named Kalikala or Kalikut was tormenting the sages and human beings in the region of Vadavali. The demon also waged war against the gods. The gods invoked Devi Parvati and requested her to slay the demon. The Devi told the gods to wage war against the demon in which She will come to assist them at the right time. Accordingly the gods waged a war against the demons. The demons destroyed all the weapons of the gods. Finally when Indra threw his Vajra at Kalikala, and Kalikala destroyed that also into pieces, the Devi appeared from the pieces of Vajra as Vajra Devi. She killed the demon and came to be known as Vajreshwari.

- According to another legend, the Vajreshwari Devi is a Shakti Peetha where the left breast of Devi Sati fell.

- The Vajreshwari Devi temple is located in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh.

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Chintpurni Devi:

Chintpurni Devi Temple - A famous temple of Devi Chhinnamastika: Chintpurni Devi Temple is located in the Chhaproh village of Himachal Himalayas. It is a temple of Devi whose shrine is said to be built by Bhakta Mai Das several generations ago.

- Legend of Bhakta Mai Das: Chintpurni Devi Temple is associated with the legend of Bhakta Mai Das. According to this legend, Bhakta Mai Das built the shrine of Mata Chintpurni Devi in Chhaproh village several generations ago. Mai Das was an ardent devotee of Goddess Durga. He had two brothers. They did not like him very much due to his neglect of worldly affairs and spending time in bhajans and kirtans. But his father being a great devotee of Devi Durga supplied his worldly necessities. However, after the death of his father, the brothers refused to support him. Mai Das had to face great difficulties. But his devotion and belief on Mother Durga was steadfast. He believed that Mother Durga removes the difficulties of Her sincere devotees.

Once Mai Das was travelling to his in-laws place. He was tired and sat down to rest under a banyan tree inside a dense forest. He slept and in dream saw a luminous, beautiful young girl. She told Mai Das to stay in that place and serve Her. Mai Das woke up with a start and looked around, but could not see anyone. He thought whether it was the command of Devi Herself but could not find further clue at that time. He hurriedly visited the in-laws's place, all the time thinking of the dream.

On his way back, he again sat down under that banyan tree. He intensely prayed to Mother Durga to remove his doubts (chinta). Mother Durga appeared before him in chaturbhuj form sitting on a lion. Mai Das fell at Her feet and asked for Her command. The Devi said that She has been living in that place for many years and now She will appear as a Pindi under a tree. Mai Das should spend his life performing Her worship. Devi Durga pointed a source of fresh water on the northern slope of the hill to subsist in that place.

The Devi said that in the past, She has been known as Chhinnamastika. But from now people will call Her as Chintpurni because She has removed all his doubts and worries. The devotees will arrange to build a temple here and their offerings will be sufficient for him and his descendants. The Goddess gave him Her mantras, a few instructions and disappeared.

Bhakta Mai Das built a small hut for himself near the water tank and began regular worship of Devi's Pindi at the hill-top. Later on, the devotees built a temple there. The samadhi of Mai Das is located near the eastern side of the water tank. Twenty six generations have passed, but his descendants have uninterruptedly continued to worship the Devi in this place.

- The Chintpurni Devi temple is located in the Una district of Himachal Pradesh.

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Naina Devi:

Naina Devi Temple - A famous temple of Devi: Naina Devi Temple is situated on Naina Dhar Hill in Himachal Himachal at an altitude of 3535 ft above the sea level. The cave of Naina Devi is 70 ft long and located near the main shrine. The Naina Devi temple is associated with the legend of a gujjar boy called Naina who discovered the idol of the Devi.

- Legend of gujjar boy Naina: Naina Devi Temple is associated with the legend of a gujjar boy by name Naina. According to the legend, once when Naina was grazing his cattle he saw a white cow showering her milk on a stone. He saw the same thing for the next several days. One night, the Goddess appeared in the dream of Naina and told him that the stone is her Pindi. Naina reported the story to Raja Bir Chand. The Raja himself verified the reality and built the temple of the Goddess at the same spot. The temple was named after Naina's name.

- According to another legend, the Naina Devi temple is considered as a Shakti Peetha where the eyes of Devi Sati fell.

- According to another legend, the Goddess defeated demon Mahishasura here and took out both his eyes. There is a Brahm Kripali kund downwards the temple which is said to have been created by Brahma where the head of Mahishasura fell. Similarly there is a Chikshu Kund where the head of Chiksura fell.

- The Naina Devi temple is located in the Bilaspur district of Himachal Pradesh.

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Bharatavarsha - The Land of Gods and Sages:

1. Stotras by Deity:
Initial: Ganesha - Hanuman - Gurudeva - Gayatri
Tridevas: Brahma - (Vishnu - Narasimha - Rama - Krishna) - Shiva
Tridevis: Saraswati - (Lakshmi - Tulasi - Bhoomi) - Parvati
Others: Murugan - Surya - Ganga - Yamuna - Narmada - Others
Final: Vedas - Brahman

2. Pilgrimages by Deity:
Initial: Ganesha
Tridevas: Brahma - (Vishnu - Narasimha - Rama - Krishna) - Shiva
Tridevis: Saraswati - Lakshmi - (Parvati - Shakambari)
Others: Murugan - Ganga

3. Sadhana: Sadhana - Hermitages - Penances

4. Saints: Ramakrishna - Vivekananda - Ramana - Saints

5. Sacred Geography: Forests - Mountains - Rivers - Lakes

6. Puranas: Scriptures

7. Religious Life: Stotras - Puja - Pilgrimages - Festivals - Varnashramas - Samskaras - Traditions

8. Other Aspects: Sanskrit - Arts - Music - Dance - Medicine - Architecture - Astronomy

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Om, May there be Peace in Heaven,
May there be Peace in the Sky,
May there be Peace in the Earth,
May there be Peace in the Water,
May there be Peace in the Plants,
May there be Peace in the Trees,
May there be Peace in the Gods in the various Worlds,
May there be Peace in Brahman,
May there be Peace in All,
May there be Peace Indeed within Peace,
Giving Me the Peace which Grows within Me,
Om, Peace, Peace, Peace.

(Shanti Mantra of Upanishad)

Preserve Nature,
And Nature will preserve Us,
Simplify Life,
And make the Nature thrive,
Plant Trees,
And make our planet Green.

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Last updated on Oct-2017

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