The Indian civilisation has been the pioneer of the Indic faith being carried on from generation to generation. The Indic civilisation is the basis of eternal journey within and outside. Sanatan Sanskriti is the foundation of realisation – the experience that one feels from various unifying forces.
Pilgrimage is an important part of Indic culture as well as traditions. Throughout the civilization from the north to the south, what connects Bharat is the tradition of Yatras. It is like a river flowing in from various origins. It is a journey of realization, of awakening, of devotion, of experience and of faith.
Yatras have an important place in our traditions. What we find in the Sanatana Sanskriti is a confluence of Yatras that play an important part in the geographical aspect as well as unifying force as a whole.
Starting from the north, we have Vaishno devi pilgrimage located in Katra in the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. In Kashmir, we have the Amarnath yatra which starts in the month of June.
Following which we have Char Dham Yatra of Uttarakhand where millions of pilgrims visit each year. This cluster of Char Dham comprises Yamunotri, Gangotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath. Uttarakhand is known as Dev Bhoomi, ‘the land of Gods’. There are many Yatras namely, Chalda Mahasu Yatra, Nanda devi Rajjat Yatra which takes place after twelve years, Yatras where Gods of various historic temples visit one another are prevalent in Uttarakhand.
In Himachal Pradesh, we have the famous Shrikhand Mahadev Yatra. In our vedas and puranas, we have mention of ‘Jatra’ that form the basis of our culture. Hindu scriptures such as Rig veda and Skanda Purana, Sthala Purana, Maha bhagvatam, Mahabharath, Brahma purana and Brahmanda Purana reflect on the tirth yatras.
Our Indian society is based on the philosophy of travelling. There comes a unison of devotion, knowledge as well as self realisation. Our scriptures celebrate the Yatras. We have yatras prevailing throughout our Bharatvarsha. Psychologically, we can take it in this sense that the journey to the holy site is the journey to your soul, the journey to your consciousness.
The concept of Yatra can be traced well back into the times of Adi Guru Shankaracharya when he travelled from Kerala to various parts of the country. He brought awakening and showed the path of devotion in the country.
The Char Dham Yatra of Bharat comprises Badrinath temple, Jagannath temple, Rameshwaram temple and Dwarka. The Yatra of these places are marked by many pilgrims visiting in large numbers. It is believed that Lord Vishnu takes bath in Badrinath, eats at Jagannath temple, rests at Rameshwaram temple and rules at Dwarka temple.
The Ratha yatra that takes place in puri, Odisha, is a mega cart festival that takes place every year. The 10 day long festival is looked upon by many pilgrims across the country. The Yatra to Dwarka again becomes relevant in our scriptures. These Yatras have a vedic relevance. People go on a pilgrimage with a hope to attain moksha.
The Chaurasi kos yatra in the regions of Mathura and Vrindavan is highly famous for witnessing the lila of Lord Krishna. This parikrama marg celebrates the life of Radha and Krishna. This yatra consists of Radha kund, Shyam kund, Govardhan mountain and many other historically cultural places.
The kashi-Rameshwaram yatra that binds north India with South India. The Yatras have a significance. These yatras are attributed to the travelling of a human heart to the divine abode. The yatra of Mandala kaalam dedicated to Lord Ayyappa takes place every year and people from south of India take part mainly in the yatra.
The Kailash-mansarovar yatra is the pilgrimage to the Kailash mountain. The yatra holds a cultural as well as religious significance. The yatra is dedicated to Shiva. The natural beauty all around makes the pilgrims feel in the holy abode.
There are 51 shakti peethas present in the Bharatvarsh. Yatras of these shakti peethas also take place all throughout the year. Dedicated to the goddess of power, these shakti peethas unite bharatvarsha as they are scattered all around the country.
Talking about Ashta-vinayaka located in Maharashtra, there exists a culture as well as traditions of pilgrimage to all the eight temples, dedicated to Lord Ganesha. All these temples have a story related to the life of Lord Ganesha.
Maharashtra is known for its famous Pandharpur Wari Yatra which takes place in honour of Vithoba and Rakhumai, who are Lord Krishna and Rukmani. This yatra is one of the world’s largest yatras where people from their respective shrines come to pandharpur carrying wari containing paduka of Saint Tukaram and Saint Dnyaneshwar.
The Yatras have an important role in our sanskriti. Keeping this thing in mind, there have been creation of many circuits, like the Ramayana Circuit, Mahabharata circuit. Shiv circuit, Krishna Circuit and Shakti circuits to promote these religious places as well as promote Swadesh darshan under the Swadesh Darshan Scheme.
There’s no doubt that Bharat is a civilization that is growing with these pilgrimages and these holy places celebrating – Culture, traditions and civilization of this punya bhoomi.