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Pilgrimages of Kashmir Himalayas
- Location: The Kashmir Himalayas is spread across the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
- Geographic Regions and Pilgrimages summary:
Geographic Regions and Pilgrimages of Kashmir Himalayas:
- The Kashmir Himalayas have the following mountain ranges starting from the Trans Himalayan region to the Shivalik Hills:
- Karakoram Range (Trans Himalayan Range):
- Location: Extends from Hunza in the north-west to Shyok in the east (about 400 km). Border of Afganistan and Tibet.
- What Nature has endowed it: Very high mountain range. Some of the highest peaks of the world. Some of the highest glaciers of the world. Mountain peaks covered with perpetual snow.
- Mount Godwin Austin or K2 (8611 m), the second highest peak of the world lies in this range.
- Gilgit Valley:
- Location: North-west of Kashmir.
- What Nature has endowed it: Fertile valley. Surrounded by high mountains. River Gilgit.
- Neelam Valley:
- Location: Western side of Kashmir. Around 100 km from Baramulla in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. In a small village called Shardi.
- What Nature has endowed it: Beautiful valley. Confluence of rivers Kishenganga and Madhumati.
Sharada Peeth - Kashmir:
- Sharada Peeth (Kashmir): An ancient temple of Devi Sharada in Neelam Valley of Kashmir Himalayas. Goddess Sharada Who embodies learning, beauty and arts was the presiding deity of Kashmir in ancient times. That is why Kashmir was known as Sharada Desha or Sharada Peetha.
- Penance of Shandilya Rishi: According to Sharada Mahatmya, Goddess Sharada gave darshan to Shandilya Rishi when he performed penance at Sharada Vana in the upper Kishenganga valley of north Kashmir.
- Adi Shankara ascended Sarvajna Peetham: It is also in this temple that Adi Shankara ascended the Sarvajna Peetham (Throne of Wisdom).
Sharada Peeth is located in the PoK region of Jammu and Kashmir.
- Sarva Mangala Mangalye (Devi Mahatmyam)
- Ya Devi Sarvabhutesu (Devi Mahatmyam)
- Namaste Sharade Devi
- Saraswati Mahabhage
- Saraswati Namastubhyam
- Saraswati Mantras (Rig Veda 1.4.28 to 1.4.30)
- Saraswati Stotram (Sage Agastya)
- Sharada Bhujangam (Adi Shankara)
- Saraswati Devi Chalisa
- Ladakh Range (Trans Himalayan Range):
- Location: South of the Karakoram Range. Between Indus and the Shyok rivers.
- What Nature has endowed it: Almost treeless cold desert region. Many parts covered under snow. Avg elevation 5800 m.
- Sri Parvata: Sri Parvata in Ladakh region is the sacred center of Sri Parvata Shakti Peetha.
Sri Parvata Shakti Peetha:
- Sri Parvata Shakti Peetha: A Shakti Peetha mentioned in Peetha Nirnaya texts where the Daksha Gulpha (Right ankle) of Devi had fallen. The Devi there is known as Sri Sundari and Bhairava is known as Sundarananda. Sri Parvata Shakti Peetha is identified with Sri Parvata near Ladakh. Ladakh is located in the Leh district of Jammu and Kashmir.
- Sarva Mangala Mangalye
- Sri Parvata Shakti Peetha
- Shakti Peethas
- Zanskar Range (Trans Himalayan Range):
- Location: South of the Ladakh Range and almost parallel to it. Terminates at Nanga Parbat (8126 m) in the north-west.
- What Nature has endowed it: Almost treeless cold desert region. Many parts covered under snow. Rupshu Valley in the east. Lake Tso-Morari in Rupshu Valley.
- Greater Himalayas (Greater Himalayan Range):
- Location: South of the Zanskar Range. Branches off from Nanga Parbat (8126 m) where the Indus river bends.
- What Nature has endowed it: Some of the highest mountain peaks of the world. High glaciers from where many Himalayan rivers originate.
- Mount Everest (8850 m), the highest peak of the world lies in this range.
- Liddar (or Lidder) Valley:
- Location: North-east flank of Kashmir Valley. District of Anantanag.
- What Nature has endowed it: River Liddar (or Lidder).
- Amarnath Cave: The Amarnath Cave on the farther end of the Liddar Valley is the sacred center of the pilgrimage of Sri Amarnathji (Shiva). It is also the Kashmira Shakti Peetha of Devi.
- Amarnath (3888 m): An ancient cave pilgrimage of Shiva as well as a Shakti Peetha in the Liddar (or Lidder) Valley of Kashmir Himalayas.
- Amar-Katha: According to legend Lord Shiva told the Amar Katha (secret of immortality) to Devi Parvati in this place. To ensure that nobody listens to this secret, Lord Shiva left His Nandi bull at Pahalgam, He released His Moon at Chandanwari, He released His snakes at the banks of Lake Sheshnag, He left His son Ganesha at Mahagunas Parvat and He left the Five Elements at Panchtarni. But while narrating the secret, a pair of pigeons overheard this and became immortal. Many pilgrims report seeing a pair of pigeons here.
- Natural Ice Lingam: A natural Ice Lingam forms in this cave every year which the pilgrims worship as the Shiva Lingam.
- Kashmira Shakti Peetha: This is also the Kashmira Shakti Peetha.
- The trek:
The trekking route from Pahalgam is as follows:
1. Pahalgam: From Srinagar to Pahalgam (96 km).
2. Chandanwari: From Pahalgam to Chandanwari.
3. Sheshnag: From Chandanwari a trek of 12 km passing through spectacular countryside and overlooking the Sheshnag mountain (with seven peaks and resembling the serpent Sheshnag). The pilgrims camp at Wavjan near the blue waters of Sheshnag lake.
4. Mahagunas Parvat: From Sheshnag a trek of 12 km climbing the winding Mahagunas pass (4600 m).
5. Panchtarni: And then descending to the meadow land of Panchtarni.
6. Amarnath Cave: From Panchtarni the last 6 km trek to reach the holy cave of Amarnath.
The trekking route from Baltal is as follows:
1. Sonmarg: From Srinagar to Sonmarg (Srinagar-Leh road).
2. Baltal: From Sonmarg to Baltal (15 km) (3000 m). Baltal is a small valley on the foothills of the Zojila pass.
3. Amarnath Cave: From Baltal a day's steep trek to the holy cave of Amarnath.
Amarnath cave is located in the Anantanag district of Jammu and Kashmir.
- Om Namah Shivaya
- Kara Carana Kritam
- Karpura Gauram Karunavataram
- Maha Mrityunjaya Mantra (Rig Veda 7.59.12)
- Rudrashtakam (Goswami Tulsidas)
- Shambhu Stuti
- Shiva Manasa Puja (Adi Shankara)
- Shiva Panchakshara Stotram (Adi Shankara)
- Shiva Pratah Smaran Stotram (Adi Shankara)
- Shiva Shadakshara Stotram (Rudra Yamala)
- Shiva Tandava Stotram (Ravana)
- Shivashtakam (Adi Shankara)
- Vishwanathashtakam (Adi Shankara)
- Dwadasa (Twelve) Jyotirlingas
- Om Namah Shivaya Japa
- Mahamrityunjaya Mantra Japa
- Shiva Gayatri Mantra
Kashmira Shakti Peetha:
- Kashmira Shakti Peetha: A Shakti Peetha mentioned in Peetha Nirnaya texts where the Kanthadesha (Region of the Neck) of Devi had fallen. The Devi there is known as Mahamaya and Bhairava is known as Trisandheyeswara. Kashmira Peetha is identified with Amarnath cave. Amarnath cave is located in the Anantanag district of Jammu and Kashmir.
- Sarva Mangala Mangalye
- Kashmira Shakti Peetha
- Shakti Peethas
- Kashmir Valley:
- Location: Between Greater Himalayas in the north and the Pir Panjal Range in the south. Districts of Kupwara, Baramulla, Budgam, Srinagar, Pulwama, Anantanag etc.
- What Nature has endowed it: Beautiful valley. About 40 km wide in the middle and 135 km from south-west to north-east. Elevation around 1585 m. River Jhelum and its tributaries. Karewa deposits.
- River Jhelum: River Jhelum known as Vitasta in Rig Veda originates from Verinag Spring.
- Hari Parbat: The sacred hillock Hari Parbat located in Srinagar is the sacred center of Devi Sharika, the presiding deity of Srinagar.
- Shankaracharya Hill: The sacred hillock Shankaracharya Hill located in Srinagar is the sacred center of the Shankaracharya Temple.
- Kheer Bhavani spring: The sacred spring Kheer Bhavani located in Tula Mula village is the sacred center of Devi Ragnya.
- Sharika Devi: The temple of Sharika Devi in Hari Parbat of Kashmir Himalayas.
- Presiding deity of Srinagar: Sharika Devi is considered as the presiding deity of Srinagar.
- Hari Parbat parikrama: Devotees perform the parikrama (circumambulation) of Hari Parbat. Some key places in the route are:
Sharika Devi temple is located in the Srinagar district of Jammu and Kashmir.
- Lord Ganesha shrine on the south-western corner of Hari Parbat
- Saptarshi shrine
- Shrine of Goddess Kali Devi with Astha Bhairavas
- Devi Angan which is a vast stretch of open space
- Shrine of Hari represented by a rock on the north-eastern face of the hill
- Shrine of Amber Koul
- Shrine of Goddess Mahalakshmi
- Shrine of Vamdev, the consort of Goddess Raghnya
- Pokhribal, the shrine of Goddess Raghnya
- Shrine of Hanuman
- Kathi Darwaza
- Sarva Mangala Mangalye
Shankaracharya Temple - Kashmir:
- Shankaracharya Temple (335 m): An ancient temple of Adi Shankara in Kashmir Himalayas. The temple is located in the Shankaracharya Hill where Adi Shankaracharya is said to have stayed and meditated. Shankaracharya Hill is located in the Srinagar district of Jammu and Kashmir.
- Kheer Bhawani: A sacred spring in Tula Mula village is worshipped as goddess Ragnya Devi. Thousands of devotees offer milk and kheer to this sacred spring, hence it is called Kheer Bhawani.
- Divine experience of Swami Vivekananda: Swami Vivekananda had a divine experiences in Kheer Bhawani temple. One day he was distressed thinking about the desecration of this temple by muslim invaders. He thought - "If I had been here then, I would never have allowed such a thing. I would have laid down my life to protect the Mother". Thereupon he heard the voice of the Mother, "What if unbelievers should enter my temple and defile my image? What is that to you? Do you protect me, or do I protect you?".
Another day when Swamiji was thinking about rebuilding the dilapidated temple, He heard the Mother saying - "My child, If I so wish I can have innumerable temples and monastic centres. I can even this moment raise a seven-storied golden temple on this very spot".
Kheer Bhawani is located in the Ganderbal district of Jammu and Kashmir.
- Sarva Mangala Mangalye
- Pir Panjal Range (Lesser Himalayan Range):
- Location: Rise from Shivalik range in Jammu (Jammu Hills). Forms southern boundary of Kashmir Valley.
- What Nature has endowed it: Elevation 3500-5000 m. Deeply cut valleys. Precipitous gorges. River Jhelum and Chenab cuts through this mountain range.
- The Banihal Pass (2835 m) which connects Jammu with Srinagar lies in this range.
- Dun or Doon Valleys:
- Jammu Hills (Shivalik Range):
- Location: Runs parallel to the Pir Panjal Range. Jammu district.
- What Nature has endowed it: River Chenab.
- Trikuta Parvata: The sacred hill Trikuta Parvata located in the Shivalik range of Kashmir Himalayas is the sacred center of Vaishno Devi.
- Vaishno Devi (1500 m): A famous pilgrimage of Devi Vaishnavi in Trikuta Parvata in the Shivalik range of Kashmir Himalayas.
- About Vaishno Devi:
Vaishno Devi originated from the combined powers of the Tridevis - Devi Mahakali, Devi Mahalakshmi and Devi Mahasaraswati. The Devi incarnated as the daughter of Ratnakar. She performed penance and got the darshan of Sri Rama. Sri Rama instructed Her to abide in Trikuta Parvata as the great Devi of this Kali Yuga. After an encounter with Bhairon Nath, She manifested in a cave in Trikuta Parvata in the form of Three Pindies (Natural Rock formations). Devi is said to have revealed Her holy cave to Her ardent devotee named Sridhar Pandit.
- Places to see:
The Vaishno Devi Cave is reached by a trekking route from the base camp at Katra. Pilgrims undertake a trek of 12 km to reach the Holy Cave (Bhawan). The trekking route passes through:
1. Darshini Darwaaza (850 m): This is the entry gate to the trek. According to legend Mata Vaishno Devi met Pandit Sridhar at this spot in the form of a small girl during the Bhandara (community feast). Mata eluded Bhairon Nath and started ascending the hill towards the Holy Cave.
2. Ban Ganga (820 m): This is a stream which is believed to have been created by Mata Herself using a Ban (Arrow) on Her way to the Holy Cave. Hence this is called Ban Ganga. After creating this stream, She took a dip in it and washed Her hair.
3. Charan Paduka (1030 m): This is a rock slab with the imprints of feet believed to be that of Mata Herself. According to legend, Mata stopped here for sometime to check whether Bhairon Nath is still chasing Her and left Her footprints here.
4. Adhkuwari (1460 m): Adhkuwari is a small womb-shaped cave halfway between Katra and the main cave. Adhkuwari means "Eternal Virgin". It is believed that Mata performed tapasya in this cave for nine months worshipping Lord Shiva. Hence the cave is also called Garbh Joon or Garbh Yoni. When Bhairon Nath approached this cave while searching for Her, She created an exit at the other end with Her trident and proceeded towards the main cave.
5. Himkoti: This is one of the most beautiful spots on the new track with breathtaking scenic beauty of the entire valley. It is around 2.5 km from Adhkuwari.
6. Sanjhichat (1890 m): This is the highest point on the trekking path with a panoramic view of the valley.
7. The Holy Cave (Bhawan) (1500 m): After leaving Adhkuwari, Mata ascended the hills and reached the Holy Cave. Bhairon Nath also reached there and challenged Her. Vaishno Devi assumed Her Divine Form in this place and beheaded Bhairon Nath with a sword. By the power of the blow of Her sword, the head of Bhairon Nath fell one and a half km away from this cave in the place now known as Bhairon Ghati. When Bhairon Nath finally surrendered to Her before his death, Mata gave a boon to him that the journey to Her shrine will remain incomplete without visiting the temple of Bhairon Nath on the return. The Devi then immersed Herself in meditation and manifested in the form of three Pindies (Natural Rock formations). The Devi revealed the location of this cave to Her ardent devotee Pandit Sridhar for the welfare of all Her devotees. It is believed that Mata personally calls Her devotees in this place (Bulawa) when She wishes them to visit Her.
At the entrance of the Holy Cave is the symbol of Lord Ganesha. Adjacent to it are the symbols of Surya Deva and Chandra Deva. Thereafter is the symbol of the torso of Bhairon Nath around 14 ft long (The head of Bhairon Nath fell in a place called Bhairon Ghati around 2 km away from this cave). After this comes the symbol of Lord Hanuman (Launkra Beer). Thereafter is the Charan Ganga, a holy stream of water flowing inside the cave from the feet of the Mother. Beyond this is the Havan Kunda of the Mother and adjacent to it are symbols of Shankha, Chakra, Gada and Padma. There are many other symbols inside the cave. The pilgrims finally come to the three Pindies inside the Holy Cave which represent the three forms of the Mother - Devi Mahakali, Devi Mahalakshmi and Devi Mahasaraswati. All these are seen only if the darshan is through the main cave during the lean season.
8. Bhairon Ghati: This is the place where the head of Bhairon Nath fell after Mata Vaishno Devo beheaded him. There is a small temple of Bhairon Nath here which the devotees visit after visiting the shrine of Mata.
- Temple information:
1. Temple website: Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (https://www.maavaishnodevi.org)
2. Temple timings: The darshan of Mata Vaishno Devi is open round the clock throughout the year. Darshan is only suspended for sometime during the Aarti of Mata.
3. Puja timings: The main puja is the Aarti performed before the deity twice a day. The Aarti is performed just before sunrise in the early morning and just after sunset in the evening. The Aarti takes nearly two hours during which time the darshan remains suspended.
Vaishno Devi shrine is located in the Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir.
- Sarva Mangala Mangalye
- Ya Devi Sarvabhutesu
- Vaishno Devi Chalisa
- Tune Mujhe Bulaya Shera Waliye
- Aaj Tera Jagrata Mata
- Jai Ambe Gauri
Bharatavarsha - The Land of Gods and Sages:
1. Stotras by Deity:
Initial: Ganesha -
Tridevas: Brahma - (Vishnu -
Tridevis: Saraswati -
(Lakshmi - Tulasi - Bhoomi) -
Others: Murugan -
Final: Vedas -
2. Pilgrimages by Deity:
Tridevas: Brahma - (Vishnu -
Tridevis: Saraswati -
(Parvati - Shakambari)
3. Sadhana: Sadhana - Hermitages - Penances
4. Saints: Ramakrishna - Vivekananda - Ramana - Saints
5. Sacred Geography:
7. Religious Life:
8. Other Aspects:
Sanskrit - Arts - Music - Dance - Medicine - Architecture - Astronomy