Sacred Mountains

sacred-mountains

Mountains have traditionally been regarded as abodes of Gods.Some mountains are also held sacred due to their association with deities, mythology or legends.Hills and mountains (Parvat) have special significance within Hinduism. There are many mountains that are worshipped by hindus.Some of very famous ones are :-

Mount Abu

Mount Abu, Rajasthan’s only hill station is situated at the southern tip of the Aravalli ranges. The mountain forms a rocky plateau about 9km wide. The highest peak on the mountain is Gurushikhar, which is the highest point between the Nilgiris in the south and the Himalayas in the north. Mt. Abu is one of the major pilgrimage destinations in India. It is home to several Hindu and Jain temples including the famous Dilwara Jain temple, Gaumukh temple, Sri Raghunathji temple and the Adhar Devi temple.As per the legends, Mt. Abu came into existence when Nandini, Sage Vashishta’s wish-fulfilling cow, fell into a deep lake. Sage Vashishta appealed to the Gods for help, who sent Arbuda, the celestial cobra. Arbuda, carried a huge rock on his head and dropped it into the lake, displacing the water. Thus, Nandini was rescued. The spot came to be known as (Arbudachala- Hill of Arbuda) after the mighty serpent.

Agastyamalai Parvat

This mountain falls in the Tirunelveli and Kanyakumari districts of Tamil Nadu and the Kollam and Thiruvananthapuram districts of Kerala.It is a pilgrim centre, where devotees come to worship sage Agasthya. Agasthya was a Dravidian sage, and is considered to be one of the seven rishis (saptarishi) of Hindu mythology. The Tamil language is considered to be a boon from Agasthya. There is a statue of Agasthya at the top of the peak and the devotees can render poojas themselves.

The most famous legend regarding the mountain relates to Agasthya and the marriage of Lord Shiva and Parvathi in Mount Kailasha. When the wedding was announced, all the Gods, rishis and people migrated north to the Himalayas. As a result, the earth went off balance and became dangerously wobbly. With disaster looming, Lord Shiva asked Agasthya to go south and balance the situation through meditation. He meditated and prayed on the mountain that now bears his name and once again put the world in balance.

Arunachala Parvat

The Arunachaleshwar temple at Tiruvannamalai is one of the holiest Saivite shrines in the country. Lord Shiva is worshipped here in the form of Arunachaleshwarar, also known as Annamalaiyar. The temple is one of the Panchabootha stalas (temples associated with the five basic elements – water, wind, fire, sky and earth) and is associated with Agni or Fire. The temple is located at the foot of the Mount Arunachala (Aruna = red + Achala= immovable mount). The mountain is believed to be sacred and hence, many saints and siddhas have made it their home. Thousands of devotees circumbulate (pradakshina) the mountain (also known as Girivalam) on full-moon days and also during certain festivals. The deepam festival during the month of kartigai is celebrated with great fervour. A big brass lamp is lit at the peak of the hill. The blazing flame atop the hill is witnessed by millions.

The mount is considered by some to be the physical embodiment of Lord Shiva himself. Legend has it that once, Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma quarrelled to ascertain the superiority of one over the other. They sought the help of Lord Shiva to judge as to who was really superior. Lord Shiva transformed himself into a flame of light and asked them to find the root and the crown. Both of them failed. They requested Lord Shiva to moderate His appearance. Lord Shiva obliged and manifested Himself as the sacred Mount Arunachala.

Chamundi Hills

Chamundi hills are located about 13 kms from the city of Mysore. The hill gets is name from Goddess Chamundeshwari, who is the patron deity of the Mysore royal family. The Goddess is enshrined in a temple located on the hill top, which can be reached either by road or by climbing 1000 steps from the base. Half-way up the hill is a gigantic 4.8 meters tall statue of Nandi, the divine bull of Lord Shiva. Also, close to the temple is a gigantic and colourful statue of Mahishasura, the demon King vanquished by the Goddess.

According to a legend in Devi Purana, Mysore was rule by the buffalo-demon Mahishasura. Hence, the place was called Mahishuru (now Mysore), the city of the demon king Mahisha. Goddess Parvati, the consort of Lord Shiva incarnated as Chamundi (also known as Mahishasuramardini) and killed the demon King on top of the hill. After killing Mahishasura, the Goddess resided on the hill top where she is worshipped even today with reverence and devotion.

Gabbar hill

Gabbar hill is located close to the Gujarat-Rajasthan border, near the origin of the Vedic river Saraswati. Climbing the Gabbar hill is an important pilgrimage and attracts lakhs of pilgrims from Gujarat and the neighbouring state of Rajasthan. The small temple on the hilltop is very ancient and is believed to be the original abode of Goddess Ambaji. A holy lamp is constantly burning on the top of the hill temple, facing exactly in front of the Shree Yantra at the famous Nij Mandir or the temple of Mata Arasuri Ambica in Ambaji town. (3 km from Gabbar hill) It is believed that the footsteps and chariot imprints seen on the hill are that of the Goddess and her chariot.

According to Hindu scriptures, the Ambaji temple is one of the 52 Shakti peethas in India. It is believed to be the place where Goddess Sati’s heart fell while Lord Shiva was carrying her burning body from the sacrificial fire of Daksha’s yagna.The place also finds mention in the Hindu epic, Ramayana. As per legend, Lord Rama and Lakshmana came to the Ashram of Shrungi Rishi during their search for Sita. The Rishi adviced them to worship Ambaji at Gabbar. The Goddess blessed them and gave a divine arrow called (Ajay), which Lord Rama used in his war against Ravana.The Gabbar hill is also associated with Lord Krishna. The tonsure ceremony of the Lord is believed to have taken place in the temple in the presence of His foster parents Nand and Yashoda, who worshipped Ambaji during the Dwapar Yuga.

Govardhan Parvat

Govardhan is situated 26 km west of Mathura on the state highway to Deeg. A famous place of Hindu pilgrimage, Govardhan is located on a narrow sandstone hill known as Giriraj which is about 8 km in length.The hill is associated with Lord Krishna, who is believed to have lifted the hill with the tip of his little finger for seven days and nights to shield the people of Braj from the torrential rains caused by Lord Indra.

Govardhan is believed to have been 30,000 meters high about 5000 years ago. It is believed that the hill is sinking by the height of a mustard seed daily due to the curse by Pulatsya Rishi. Pulatsya Rishi once reached Dronakala Hill and requested that his son Govardhan accompany to Pulastya’s abode at Kasi. Dronakala could not refuse, but at the same time did not want to lose his son. But, Govardhan agreed to go along under one condition. If the Rishi put him down anywhere on his way to Kasi, he will not move further and will stay there forever. The Rishi accepted the condition and lifted him on his palm and proceeded to Kasi.

As they approached Braj, thoughts about Lord Krishna entered Govardhan’s mind and hence, he became heavier. The Rishi could no longer carry him and he put Govardhan down to get some rest. When he tried to lift Govardhan again, the hill refused to move. In great anger the rishi cursed Govardhan that he would diminish in size by one mustard seed every day.

Kamagiri Hills

The Kamakhya temple, which is located on the Kamagiri hill, is one of the 52 Shakti Peethas related to Sati. It is believed by some to be an ancient Khasi sacrificial site.Mahabaleshwar is the highest point of the Western Ghats and lies amidst the Sahyadris. It overlooks the Krishna and the Koyna valleys. The place is one of the most visited hill-stations in the state of Maharashtra. Mahabaleshwar is known for its two ancient temples – the Krishna or Panchganga temple and the Old Mahabaleshwar temple.

According to legends, Goddess Sati burned herself in the sacrificial fire at her father Daksha’s yagna, because her father insulted her husband, Lord Shiva. Enraged by Sati’s immolation, Shiva picked up the remains of Her body and began His dance of destruction (Tandava). The other Gods pleaded Lord Vishnu to intervene and prevent the destruction of the entire universe. Vishnu tried to pacify Lord Shiva. He started hacking Sati’s corpse with his Sreechakra (Disk). One by one the various parts fall off from Sati’s body until Shiva is left with nothing. Finally, the Lord stops his tandava and sits down to Mahatapasya (penance).

52 pieces of Sati are believed to have got scattered across the Indian subcontinent. Her genitals (yoni) are said to have fallen on the spot where the Kamkhya temple stands today. The holy mountain is believed to be an embodiment of Lord Shiva himself, hence the name Neelachala parbat or the blue mountains.

Kailash Parvat

Kailash is the home of  Lord Shiva, for Hindu people it is the highest blessing to take darshan of the mountain – to be in its presence, to be seen by and to see it.The Tibetan people have named it Kang Rinpoche, or snow jewel, and the Hindus refer to it as Mount Meru. Every year, several hundred Hindu pilgrims and sadhus in thin orange robes, make the arduous trek over icy 16,700 ft Lipu Lekh Pass into Tibet to begin the 32-mile walk around Kailash and its lakes. Pilgrims have the tradition of walking along the circumference of a sacred site.  Walking the 54 km/32-mile (parikrama) is believed to erase negative karma and/or absolve sins.  In fact, some devoted people prostrate themselves fully, so that they proceed along the rough path around Kailash in the manner of the inch worm.  This method normally takes them two weeks.Kailash Parvat, as it is called in India, is in Ngari, a remote, rugged area of Western Tibet, but the terrain has been visited for thousands of years.  The journey to Kailash is an important pilgrimage for millions of Buddhists and Hindus, in addition to Jains. Eighteen miles southeast of Kailash is the circular, turquoise Lake Mansarovar or Tso Rinpoche (precious lake) a 64-mile circuit, which is rarely completed except by the most devout. Bathing in the lake, or even dousing ones head with the holy water is said to be of enormous spiritual benefit to those who can brave the icy water which many claim contain miraculous powers. Hindus are told that complete immersion into the lake ensure they be reborn as a god.

Kodachaadri Peak

Kodachadri is a mountain peak (altitude – 1843 m above sea level) in the Western Ghats in South India (Karnataka State). The name is a corruption of the Sanskrit word “Kutakachalam.” Kodachadri forms a picturesque background to the famous temple of Mookambika in Kollur.This is the highest peak in Shimoga District. At the peak it is believed that ‘Shankaracharya’ did meditation. And to substantiate the same you will find a ‘Sarvajna Peetha’ at the top.This attractive Mookambika temple with gold plated crest and copper roofs attracts thousands of devotees. This is a well known temple in Kundapur taluq of Karnataka visited by pilgrims from all over  India. Kollur is one of the seven pilgrimages which were created by Parashurama. It is is situated at the banks of the never drying river Sauparnika. While the other pilgrimages created by Parashurama are devoted to Lord Shiva, Lord Subramanya and Lord Ganesha, this is the only one devoted to goddess Parvathi.

Mahabaleshwar

Mahabaleshwar derives its name from Lord Mahabali (Lord Shiva), who is enshrined in the form of a naturally occurring (swayamboo) lingam in the shape of a Rudraksha seed. This lingam is considered more sacred than the 12 jyothirlingams. It is also called Trigunatmaka as it is believed to represent Brahma, Vishnu as well as Shiva.The Panchganga temple is believed to be the site of origin of five rivers. There is a legend connected to this origin. On this site long ago Lord Brahma along with the Vishnu and Shiva performed a Yagna (religious ritual). Brahma’s consort, Savitri was not present. Brahma forgot to wait for Savitri. Since the presence of his wife was essential for performing the rites, Lord Brahma hastily married a local maiden Gayatri. When Savitri arrived she got enraged and in her fury transformed Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva and Gayatri into rivers. They also retaliated, turning Savitri into a watercourse as well. Thus, Brahma became the Venna river, Gayatri and Savitri became the rivers of their own name, Lord Vishnu became the river Krishna and Lord Shiva got transformed into river Koyna.

Mehandragiri Parvat

Mahendragiri is the name of a hill (mountain peak) mentioned in the epic Ramayana. It is from this peak that Hanuman started his journy to Lanka, in search of Sita the wife of Lord Rama. It is having the same name in modern times and is the name of a hill in southern Tamilnadu, in Kanyakumari district.The 5,000 feet high Mahendragiri hills, situated in the middle of Eastern Ghats  in the Paralakhemundi sub-division of Gajapati district is 175 km from Berhampur. Though the major part of this hill range now comes under Andhra Pradesh, the 4,943 feet high peak Mahendragiri is actually located within the district of Gajapati, 51 km. to the south-west of Brahmapur. Mahendragiri Hills finds mention in the works of poets Kalidas, Sarala Das and Radhanath Ray.

Nanda Devi

Nanda Devi is the second tallest mountain in India.  The mountain has two peaks, Nanda Devi and Nanda Devi East. The mountain is guarded by a barrier ring of some of the highest mountains in the Indian Himalayas, 12 of which exceed 6400 meters in height. This has further elevated its sacred status as the daughter of the Himalaya (Shail Putri), in local myth and folklore.Mount Nanda devi is regarded as Goddess Parvathi, who is known as Nanda in the Garhwal & Kumaon areas. The Goddess is closely associated with the socio-cultural practices of Uttaranchal. In fact, Nanda devi means (bliss-giving Goddess). The Goddess has many shrines and temples dedicated to Her in the region. One of the better-known ones is located at Almora.The annual Nanda Devi mela is held here in the month of September.

Palani Hill

The Palani hill is an offshoot of the Western Ghats. The main deity here is Lord Dandayudapaani (manifestation of Lord Muruga), whose shrine stands on top of the hill consisting of 660 steps. It is one of the Aaru padai veedu or six holy shrines associated with Lord Muruga.Once Narada acquired a rare and precious mango fruit (Gnana pazham) and offered it to Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. Lord Shiva wanted his children – Ganesha and Muruga, to enjoy it, but was unable to decide as to who should get the fruit. He set a contest to decide this and said that the fruit would be given to the one who returns to Him first after going around the entire universe. Lord Kartikeyya without wasting any time got on his mount, the peacock and flew away at lighting speed. Lord Ganesha thought for a minute and then, went around his parents three times, thus declaring that they represent the entire universe. His delighted parents gave him the fruit. Lord Kartikeya on his return found that he had been outwitted by his brother. He felt cheated and got enraged. He renounced his family and all his possessions including his ornaments and his clothes. He left Mt. Kailasa and came down to a place called Thiru Avinankudi. Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati followed and persuaded their son to return to Mt. Kailasa. Lord Muruga refused and settled in a nearby hill in peace and solitude. While persuading Muruga, Lord Shiva described him as the – very fruit of wisdom.This phrase in Tamil -Pazham nee, gave the place its name Palani.

Panchachuli Hills

Panchachuli ranges are part of the Kumaon Himalayas. They form the western boundary of the Darma Valley, through which flows the Dhauli river.According to legends, Panchachuli peaks get their names from Pancha (five) and Chuli (cooking pots), because they are said to have been used as cooking pots for the last meal of the Pandava brothers, before their journey to the heavens.

Sabrimala Parvat

Mount Sabari or Sabarimala is situated in the midst of 18 hills in the Sahyadri mountain ranges (Western ghats). The ancient temple dedicated to Lord Ayyappa is located in a valley surrounded by dense forests on all sides. Lord Ayyappa was born by the union of Lord Shiva with Mohini (incarnation of Lord Vishnu). Legend has it that the divine child was found by the ruler of Pandalam on the banks of the river Pampa. The king and queen called the child Manikandan and brought him up as their own. But when the queen had a child of her own, she planned to get Ayyappa killed. She pretended to be ill and sent Ayyappa in search of tiger’s milk, which she said, was the only cure for her illness. She expected him to be killed by the tigers but was surprised to see Ayyappa return to the palace riding on a tiger, with the other tigers following him.

Lord Ayyappa’s divinity was revealed to one and all after the episode. The King immediately requested Ayyappa to suggest a suitable place for building a temple for Him. The Lord aimed an arrow which fell at a place called Sabari. The King later built a temple for lord Ayyappa at this place.Mount Sabari is named after an old woman, mentioned in the Hindu epic Ramayana, who attained salvation after her meeting with Lord Rama.

Shathasringa Parvat

The Shathasringa parvat Lies in Kolar district of Karnataka. Shathasringa (hundred peaked mountain) is famous for the Shiva temple situated on it. The temple has a pond which is fed by a perennial spring called antaragange that comes out of the mouth of a basava (stone bull).Antaragange literally means Ganges from deep in Kannada. Pilgrims come here for a dip in the pond. Though much water gushes out nobody knows the source of water or the place from where it originates. Be it summer or monsoon,water is seen gushing in all the seasons. Thousands converge here on the occasion of Mahashivaratri

The hill is also associated with Lord Parasurama and his son of Jamadagni. The killing of Kartaviryarjuna by Parasurama and subsequently murder of Jamadagni by the sons of Kartaviryarjuna and self-immolation of Renuka are found on this hill. The oath taken by Parasurama to whole Kshatriya race are said to have taken place on the hills.  It is said that the Kolahala on the death of Kartaviryarjuna gave its name to the town later become Kolar.

Simhachalam Parvat

Simhagiri (literally meaning-hill of the lion) is known for its 11th century temple dedicated to Lord Varaha Narasimha. The uniqueness of the deity lies in the fact that He has the body of a human being, the face of a boar and the tail of a lion. The presiding deity is always anointed with sandalwood paste giving the appearance of sandalwood Shiva lingam. The paste is removed only once every year on the third day during the month of Vaisakha (April- May).The foundation of the temple is related to the well-known story of the demon-king Hiranyakashipu and his son, Prahalada, who was also a great devotee of Lord Vishnu. Hiranyakashipu in order to punish Prahalada (who was firm in his devotion to Lord Vishnu) threw his son into the sea and placed the Simhachalam hill over his head to crush him completely. Lord Vishnu protected His devotee by tilting the hill for Prahalada to escape. Later, Lord Vishnu incarnated as Narasimha (half-man, half-lion) and killed Hiranyakashipu. It is believed by some that the shrine at Simhachalam was established by Prahalada in order to worship Lord Vishnu in his Narasimha avatara (manifestation).

Tirumala Hills

Tirumala hills lies in Tirupati,Chitoor district of Andhra Pradesh.Lord Venkateswara is enshrined at a temple on the Tirumala Hills, which are part of the Eastern Ghats. The Tirumala Hills (also known as Saptagiri in Sanskrit) comprise of seven peaks – Seshadri, Neeladri, Garudadri, Anjanadri, Vrishabhadri, Narayanadri and Venkatadri, with the temple actually located on the seventh peak, Venkatadri.Lord Venkateswara or Balaji is considered to be an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. It is believed that he came to reside on the southern banks of Swami Pushkarini. The range of the Tirumala hills represents the body of Adi-sesha, the divine serpent on which Lord Vishnu and His consort Goddess Mahalakshmi rest. The seven hills are believed to represent the seven hoods of the serpent.The Tirumala are also believed to be part of the sacred and celestial Meru Parvata. According to legends, a contest once arose between the Lord Vayu (Wind God) and Adi-sesha. Lord Vayu tried to blow out all the thousand peaks of the Meru Parvata, while Sesha tried to protect it with his hoods. Lord Vayu after sometime got exhausted and discontinued his blowing. Adisesha thinking that He had won the contest raised his hood, when Lord Vayu blew at the peak. One part of the peak fell at Tirupati forming the sacred Tirumala hills.

Trikuta Hills

Trikuta Hills are situated in Katra,Jammu.Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine is one of the oldest shrine of India, located at a height of 5300 feet on the holy Trikuta Hills of the Shivalik Hill Range. The Holy cave is 13 Kms from the Base Camp Katra. The Town Katra is 50 Kms away from Jammu and 35 Kms from District HQ Udhampur and is linked by road. The Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine is one of the most popular Shrines of India.The Goddess Mata Vaishno Devi’s abode is in 100 feet long cave with a narrow opening. The holy cold and crystal clear water washes the lotus feet of the Mata’s “Pindian”. There are three natural pindies representing Maha Sarswati, Maha Lakshmi, Maha Kali, which represent creative, preservative, and destructive aspects of the Super Power. It is an ancient shrine whose reference is found in the Vedas and ancient scriptures.

Yadvagiri Hills

Yadvagiri hills are situated in Melkote,Karnataka.Yadavagiri Hills are the last rocky ridges of the Sahayadri ranges and comprise of some of the oldest rock formations on the earth’s crust. The hill is associated with two famous temples – the Tirunarayana temple at the foothill and the hill temple of Yoga Narasimhar. The place is also known for its association with the Vaishnava saint Sri Ramanujacharya.According to Hindu mythology, the idol of Vishnu (moolavar) in the Tirunarayana temple was originally worshipped by Lord Brahma. It is believed to have been brought down to earth and installed at Melkote by Brahma’s son, Sanathakumara.Legend has it that the festival idol (utsavar) of Lord Vishnu was worshipped by Lord Rama himself, who got it from Brahma. In view of Rama’s reverence for the Narayana’s idol, it gained the name -Ramapriya.The Ramapriya idol was later inherited by Kusha’s daughter Kanakamalini, who was married to a Yadava King. Lord Krishna and Balarama (belonging to Yadava family) inherited this idol in Dwapara yuga. It is believed that they brought the idol to Melkote and installed it in the temple there.The Yoga Narasimha temple on Yadavagiri is believed by some to have been installed by Prahalada, a great devotee of Lord Vishnu.

COLBAR