Sacred Hills and Mountains
Hills and mountains have special significance within Hinduism. Most important are the Himalayas, the vast range in North India to which countless ascetics have retired for a life of seclusion and austerity. Shiva is considered to reside on Mount Kailash and his spouse’s name, Parvati, means “daughter of the Himalayas.” Within the Himalayan range and its foothills are many places of pilgrimage such as Haridwar, Hrishikesh, Badrinatha, and Kedarnath.
The Vindhya Mountains separate the North from the Deccan (South) and are mentioned repeatedly in the Epics and the Puranas. Another popular pilgrimage site is the cave of Vaishno Devi, north of Amritsar. Pilgrims climb many steps up to the cave, which is dedicated to three goddesses – Lakshmi, Kali and Sarasvati. It is the only temple in India where all three are worshipped together. Also famous, in the South, is Vyenkata Hill, whose 2,800-foot peak is crowned with the Tirupati temple (see The Temple).
Perhaps India’s most famous hill is Govardhana, which was raised by Lord Krishna to protect the inhabitants of Vrindavana from the wrath of Indra. The God of Rain was infuriated when child Krishna persuaded his father, head of the village, to stop the Indra-sacrifice and worship the hill instead. Indra sent torrents of rain but Krishna picked up the hill, and, holding it on the tip of the little finger of his left hand, used it as a giant umbrella. Govardhana
Puja is still a popular festival and the story is central for the followers of Pushti-marg, who call Krishna “Nathji.”
The Lifting of Govardhana Hill (STO-503)
The Story of Vaishno-Devi (STO-504)