Make your own free website on Tripod.com

The Great Uttar-Pradesh

My State - Uttar-Pradesh - Holy Land



INDIA: UTTAR PRADESH (TEMPLES)



  • Badrinath
  • Kedarnath
  • Allahabad
  • Varanasi
  • Haridwar
  • Rishikesh




    BADRINATH

    Neelkanth Peak and Badrinath Valley

    Badrinath, located on the right bank of river Alaknanda, is a shrine, that evokes the most intense religious feelings. An abode of seers, saints and yogis from time immemorial, Badrinath is one of the four Dhams, a devout Hindu has to visit in his lifetime to attain salvation.One of Hinduism's holiest sites, it was founded by Sri Sankararacharya, in the ninth century. The temple, also known as Badri Narayan, is dedicated to Vishnu, who is said to have done penance in the mythical Brindavan, that once covered the mountains of Uttarakhand.

    Known as 'Tapobhumi', a land of meditation and penance, and 'Bhubaikunth', heaven on earth, it is surrounded on either side, by two mountain ranges known as Nar and Narayan, with the Neelkanth peak, providing a spectacular backdrop. Facing the Badrinath temple, is a hot water spring, known as 'Tapt Kund'. Other famous springs, here, are the Narad Kund and the Surya Kund.

    Badrinath is presided over by a Namboothiri Brahman from Kerala, the Rawal, who also acts as as the head priest for Kedarnath.

    Around Badrinath

    Joshimath

    The religious centre, established by Adi Shankaracharya, which he called Jyotirmath, later came to be known as Joshimath. The other sites of interest are the temples of Nav Durga and Narsingh. Apart from its obvious religious importance, this place is unparalleled for its scenic beauty.

    Valley of Flowers

    One of the most idyllic valleys in the world, was discoverd by Frank S. Smythe, in 1931. The valley is profuse with a plethora of vibrant flowers, hence the name. Nearby, flows the river Pushpavati, while the massive Rataban peak forms a splendid backdrop.

    Gobindghat

    Situated between Joshimath and Badrinath, Gobindghat is the starting point for the trek to the valley.

    Lok-Pal Hemkund

    One of the most famous Gurudwaras in India, Hemkund Sahib is located here, at an altitude of 4320 metres above sea level. Nearby, is the Lok-Pal Hemkund lake, with its crystal clear waters, and four peaks surrounding it.


    Where To Stay

    Modi Bhavan and Gujarat Bhavan, next to the temple on the west bank, Kale Kambli Wale's Ashram behind the temple, are the available means of accomodation.




    KEDARNATH

    Devotees outside Kedarnath Temple

    Kedarnath is the most important Hindu shrine in Himalayas, and among the major Shiva temples, of the country. Located at the source of the river Mandakini, Kedarnath is one of the twelve Jyothirlingas, of Lord Shiva, and one of the Panch Kedars.

    Mythology identifies the deity at Kedarnath temple, with the rump of a bull, a form assumed by Lord Shiva, when eluding the Pandavas, who had come for repentance for killing their kith and kin, in the great battle of Kurukshetra. It is believed that the temple of Kedarnath, was constructed by the Pandavas. At the entrance of the temple, is the statue of Nandi, the divine bull of Shiva. The wall inside the temple, is exquisitely carved with images, and the temple houses a shiva lingam, which is worshipped by hordes of pilgrims.

    At the approach of winters in the month of November, the holy statue of Lord Shiva, is carried down from Garhwal (Kedarkhand) to Ukhimath, and is reinstated at Kedarnath, in the first week of May. It is at this time, that the doors of the temple are thrown open to pilgrims, who flock from all parts of India, for a holy pilgrimage.

    Legends notwithstanding, the shrine of Kedarnath is very scenically placed, and is surrounded by lofty, snow - covered mountains, and grassy meadows covering the valleys. Immediately behind the temple, is the high Keadardome peak, which can be sighted from great distances. The sight of the temple and the peak with its perpetual snows is, simply, an enthralling sight.

    Around Kedarnath

    Vasuki Tal

    Situated at an altitude of 14, 200 ft, and 6 kms away from Kedarnath, Vasuki Tal is situated on the right side of the valley. The crystal clear lake with stupendous scenic surroundings, offers a splendid view for the nature buff.

    Son Prayag

    Located at the confluence of the Mandakini and the Sone-Ganga, this quaint village is known for its picturesque beauty.

    Gaurikund

    An ancient temple dedicated to the Goddess Gauri or Parvati, the Gaurikund houses the metallic idols of Gauri and Shiva. According to legend, Parvati meditated here for a long time, to win Shiva as her consort. Ultimately, she succeeded, and the cosmic couple were wed at Trijuginarayan.

    Where To Stay

    GMVN Tourist Bungalow, Modi Bhavan, behind the temple. Punjab Sindh, next to the Post office.






    VARANASI

    The Ghats of Varanasi

    Varanasi, known to the devout as Kashi, was founded by Shiva, Lord of the Universe. It is one of the oldest living cities in the world. One of the most important pilgrimage sites in India, Varanasi is also a major tourist attraction. Situated on the banks of the sacred Ganges, Varanasi has been a centre of learning and civilisation for over 2000 years. It was at Sarnath, only 10 km away from Varanasi, that the Buddha, first preached his message of enlightenment, 25 centuries ago. Varanasi derived its present name from the two rivers Varauna, and Asi.

     Ghats

    Varanasi's principal attraction is the long string of ghats, which line the west bank of the Ganges. Ghats are the steps which lead down to the river. There are around 100 ghats in Varanasi, each with its own significance. Most Indians believe that anyone dying on the banks of the river, in Varanasi, attains instant 'moksha' or enlightenment. The Dasaswamedh Ghat is the most significant ghat here, and conveniently placed at the centre. The five ghats where pilgrims are supposed to bathe in order, and on the same day are Asi ghat, followed by Dasaswamedh, Barna Sangam, Panchganga, and finally, Manikarnika, in that order. Manikarnika and Harishchandra ghats, are the ghats used primarily for the cremation of the dead. Other main ghats include Kedar ghat, a shrine popular with Bengalis; Mansarovar ghat built by Man Singh of Amber; and PanchGanga Ghat where the five rivers are supposed to meet.

     Temples and other attractions

    Dedicated to Shiva or Vishveswara (Vishwanath) is the Golden Temple, the main temple of Varanasi. The original temple was located across the road, but it was destroyed by Aurangzeb who had built a mosque over it. The present temple was built by Ahalya Bai of Indore in 1776. The Mosque of Aurangzeb, has been built using columns from the original temple razed by Aurangzeb. This mosque has minarets towering 71 metres above the Ganges.

    The Durga Temple, commonly known as the Monkey Temple, was built in the 18th century by a Bengali Maharani, and is stained red with ochre. This small temple is built in north Indian Nagara style, with a multicoloured shikhara or umbrella. Other temples in Varanasi include the Tulsi Manas temple, and the Bharat Mata temple.

    On the other side of the Ganges, is the Ram Nagar Fort and Museum, home to the Maharaja of Benaras. There are tours to the fort, or a ferry can be taken across the river to get to it.

    Yoga

    Tourists interested in Yoga can pay a visit to the Malviya Bhavan at the Banaras Hindu University, where courses in Yoga and Hindu Philosophy are offered. There are also many private teachers and organisations offering courses. Yoga clinic at D 16/19 Man Mandir runs seven day courses in the principles of Yoga.

    How to get there

    Air : Varanasi is on several Indian Airlines routes, including the popular daily tourist shuttle Delhi/Agra/Khajuraho/Varanasi and back. There are flights from Lucknow, Jaipur, Bhubaneshwar and Kathmandu also. The airport is about 22 km away from the city, and the Indian Airlines shuttle bus service runs from there to the city.

    Train : There are not many trains running from Delhi or Calcutta to Varanasi, but most Delhi-Calcutta trains do pass through Mughalsarai, 12 km south of Varanasi. Varanasi is connected by train to Mumbai, Allahabad, Patna, Jaipur, Gorakhpur and Khajuraho.

    Road : There are buses running from Varanasi to Jaunpur, Allahabad, Lucknow, Faizabad, and Gorakhpur. No direct buses run to Khajuraho.

    Where to stay

    There is a wide variety of hotel accommodation available in the city. The hotels at the top end, which are mostly in the cantonment area of the city, include Hotel de Paris (Tel: +91-542-346601) and Hotel Varanasi Ashok (Tel: 346020, Fax: 342141). Hotel Clarks Varanasi (Tel 342401, Fax: 348186) is the oldest hotel here, dating back to the British era. Hotel Taj Ganges (Tel: 342481, Fax: 348067) is also a good option.

    Contact

    Government of India Tourist Office (Tel : +91-542-43744)

    UP Government Tourist Office (Tel : 43486)

    Bihar Government Tourist Office (Tel : 43821)






    ALLAHABAD

    According to Hindu mythology, for the 'Prakrishta Yagna', Lord Brahma, the creator - God of the Trinity, chose a piece of land on earth, on which the three rivers - the Ganga, the Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati - would flow into a quiet confluence. That land, blessed by the Gods, came to be called 'Prayag' or 'Allahabad', as it is known today. It is one of the most sacred pilgrimage centres of India.

    From the realms of mythology and legends, the history of Allahabad, then moved through time to 1575 A.D., when Emperor Akbar founded a city, of lavish proportions, and named it Allahabad. The monarch realized its strategic importance, as a waterway landmark in North India, and also built a magnificent fort, on the banks of the holy 'sangam'. Allahabad, today, is an important city where history, culture and religion create a magical confluence .... much like the sacred rivers that caress this blessed land.


    What To See

    Sangam
    The sacred Sangam is the confluence of three of the holiest rivers in Hindu mythology - Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati. It is believed that it is at the Sangam, that a few drops of the nectar 'Amrit Bindu' fell .. making its waters truly magical. It is during the Kumbh Mela and the Ardh Kumbh that the Sangam truly comes alive .. attracting the devout from all across the country.
    Allahabad Fort
    Built by Emperor Akbar in 1583 A.D., the fort stands on the banks of the Yamuna, near the confluence site. In its prime, the fort was unrivalled for its design, construction and craftsmanship. This huge, majestic fort has three magnificent galleries, flanked by high towers.
    Patalpuri Temple
    Within this underground temple, inside the fort, lies the Akshayavat - or the immortal tree.
    Ashoka Pillar
    This gigantic Ashoka pillar, of polished sandstone, stands 10.6 m high, dating back to 232 B.C. The pillar has several edicts, and a Persian inscription of Emperor Jahangir inscribed on it, commemorating his accession to the throne.
    Hanuman Temple
    This unique temple at the Sangam, is the only one in North India, where the idol of Lord Hanuman, is to be seen in a reclining posture.
    Mankameshwar Temple
    Situated near Saraswati Ghat, on the banks of the Yamuna, this is one of the famous Shiv temples of Allahabad.
    Anand Bhawan
    The erstwhile ancestral home of the Nehru family, the Bhawan has witnessed several epoch - creating events of the freedom struggle. The main building houses a museum, displaying the memorabilia of the Nehru family.
    Jawahar Planetarium
    For a celestial trip of the scientific kind, visit the planetarium. It is an experience worth a lifetime.
    All Saints Cathedral
    Dedicated to the memory of people of all ages and places, who have kept their faith in the Almighty, this Cathedral is one of the finest cathedrals, in the country. Designed more than a century ago, by Sir William Emerson, the structure has some truly exceptional glass murals.
    Khusru Bagh
    This garden houses the tomb of Khusru, son of Salim and Shah Begum.


    Festivals

    Kumbh Mela

    One of the largest congregations of devout Hindus from all over the world, the Kumbh Mela is held once every 12 years, on the banks of the Sangam. A holy dip in the sacred waters, and offerings to the Sun-God, are believed to cleanse the soul.

    Ardh Kumbh Mela

    The half Kumbh, this festival is held once every six years, on the banks of the Sangam.

    Dussehra

    Dussehra time in Allahabad is an experience, unrivalled by any other in the rest of northern India. During this period, in the evening and at night, beautifully decorated tableau are taken out from different localities, depicting various scenes from Indian mythology.


    How To Get There

    By Air : The nearest airports are Varanasi, Kanpur and Lucknow.

    By Rail : The city has direct rail connections with important cities like Delhi, Calcutta, Patna, Gwalior, Meerut, Chennai, Mumbai, Varanasi and Guwahati.

    By Road : Allahabad, on National Highway 2 and 27, is connected to the rest of the country by good, motorable all-weather roads.


    Where To Stay

    Some of the standard hotels are :

    • Hotel Allahabad Regency, 16, Tashkant Marg. Tel : 601519, 601735
    • Hotel Yatrik, 33, S.P. Marg, Civil Lines. Tel : 601713-14, 601509

    Supplementary accomodation :