The Himalayas are a majestic and legendary mountain range, extending 2,410 kilometers across South Asia. They are home to rare herbs and are known for offering exciting winter sports. But, to the Hindus, the significance of this mountain range is even greater. They call the Himalayas, “devatma” or God-souled. Even today, they are a paradise for pilgrims and magnetically attract those who seek to practise spiritual penance.
A Hindu Deity
The Himalayas are also known as “Giri-raj” or king of mountains. They are worshipped as a separate deity by Hindus. The altitude of the Himalayas signifies the loftiness of human soul. Their vastness symbolizes the universality of mankind’s consciousness. Mount Olympus of Greek mythology and Mount Fuji in Japan, pale in comparison to the significance of the Himalayas to the Hindus.
The Himalayas give origin to many perennial rivers. Pilgrims visit Badrinath, Kedarnath and Amarnath as well as Yamunotri and Gangotri – from whence the holy rivers of Yamuna and Ganga, originate. Sikhs also have pilgrimage spots in the Himalayas.
Haven of Spiritual Practices
The Kumayun range in the Himalayas is known as “tapobhumi” or place of spiritual practices. Legend says that Shiva roamed with his bull in Kailash and Manasarovar.
Favorite of Saints and Gurus
From time immemorial, the Himalayas have invited philosophers, artists, yogis, anchorites and sages to their bosom. Prophets and sages have found the isolation and magnificence of the Himalayas, inspiring for their spiritual pursuits. Shankaracharya (788-820) established a hermitage in this holy mountain range. Swami Vivekananda founded the Mayavati Ashram, 50 kilometers from Almora.