It always appears to me that any old, matured culture of the world strives to make better human beings out of its followers. Someone said, to be wise means, to be able to care for others. One needs to be able to understand the other person’s point of view in order to be able to care for them. Perhaps, that is why going to sacred places is also an opportunity to get closer to the nature as well as to experience life of the locals, thus getting a different perspective, and maybe getting one step closer to becoming wise.
Kedarnath and Badrinath were not really pilgrimage for me. They were opportunity to go out for a while. Also, as someone ever intrigued by the great Himalayas, they seemed to be a heaven sent opportunity.
About Kedarnath and Badrinath:
These two are high altitude shrines dedicated to Lord Shiva (Kedarnath) and Lord Vishnu (Badrinath) . They are amongst the most sacred shrines for Hindus and are part of a famous pilgrimage route, called chota Char Dham Yatra. The Chota Char Dham Yatra includes besides the other two, Gangotri ( Origin of River Ganga ) and Yamnotri (Origin of river Yamuna). These two other sites dedicated to the rivers are worshipped as Shakta Goddesses. It is said that visiting these shrines once in life will enable the person to attain..yes you guessed it right, All important Nirvana! Disclaimer: Please try at your own risk! 😀
Kedarnath , the shrine dedicated to the Hindu deity Shiva is situated in Garhwal Himalayan range with Mandakini river flowing beside it, in a place called Kedarnath in the state of Uttarakhand in India. It is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas, manifestations of Shiva as per Hindu religious belief. Situated at around 3500 Meters above sea level, this place is accessible only through late April to October end each year. For the rest of the time, it remains closed due to the harsh winters.
Badrinath is a shrine dedicated to lord Vishnu. It is also situated at around 3100 Meters above sea level. The same also is inaccessible during winter due to snow fall. It is Badri Vishal as called by the devout.
To access these higher regions, the starting point happens to be the very place River Ganges exits the Himalayan foothills to meet the plains…Haridwar.
According to mythology, while carrying the pot containing the divine elixir or Amrit, some drops of it fell at seven places. These places are called as Sapta puri. Haridwar is one of these cities. Haridwar is an ancient city. It is also a densely populated, gigantic organised mess just like any other Indian city, where everyone and everything has its place.
One can walk the alleyways of this city, seeing people, pilgrims, sadhus, sellers coming from all corners, see the city coming together for the Ganga Arati (Prayer ceremony for the River Ganges) in all its grandeur
or else, just sit back at one of its ghats during evening and watch the world go by. Har Ki Pauri (Foot hills of Shiva ) is one of the most secred ghats in Haridwar. It is this exact Ghat, where the elixir spilled according to the ancient texts.
Whether one would get an extended time for ones life by coming to this ghat is secondary, but one will certainly get to see some delightful scenes.
In the evening, people sell small leafy containers filled with flower, lamp and sweets. These are then set afloat in the river Ganges by many individuals as a symbol of reverence.
The sights of several for these diyas floating in the dark waters of the river is a sight to behold. With many people around, temple bells ringing, smell of incense, flower in the air sitting on the Ghat is bound to make time fly. We stayed at the ghats till late and decided to head home for an early start to reach Sitapur the next day for visiting Kedarnath.