4 Important Shrines for Hindus in India

4 Important Shrines for Hindus in India

The 4 important shrines for Hindus in India are the 4 dhams that we call them. When we talk about the 4 Dhams today, we generally consider these to be located in Uttarakhand, state of India. However, these are 4 dhams or smaller dhams. The major 4 dhams are located at 4 positions in India. These were established by Adi Shankaracharya.

The smaller 4 dhams are Kedarnath, Badrinath, Yamunotri, and Gangotri.

Kedarnath is dedicated to lord Shiva, Badrinath is to lord Vishnu, Yamunotri is the origin of the river Yamuna, and Gangotri is the origin of the river Ganga.

We will discuss these 4 smaller shrines and they are worth visiting. However, we will see 4 major shrines established in 4 different places in India.

These 4 shrines are established by Adi Shankaracharya and should be visited by a Hindu in his lifetime.

I feel that these 4 places are strategically located or established in a way that anyone visiting these places will travel across India. This travel will help someone to understand the geography, cultures, languages, and rituals across India.

I think about the time they were established. Then the only way to travel was on foot and not much available mode of transportation was there. So, a person traveling to these places would get more time to mingle and understand different philosophies.

Let us look at these locations and try to find if there is a sequence in which these shrines should be visited.

Keeping in mind that these sites are Vaishnav sites and dedicated to Vishnu, each of the sites is accompanied by a shrine of Shiva nearby.

As per puranas Shiva and Vishnu are friends. Moreover, it is said that Shiva worships Vishnu and Vishnu worships Shiva.

4 Important Shrines for Hindus in India
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Badrinath

Badrinath Temple

Badrinath or Badrikashram is located in the Himalayas, in the present Uttarakhand State of India. The temperature is cold here and is located at a high altitude.

This temple is dedicated to lord Vishnu, the protector and the sustaining force of the universe. It is paired with Kedarnath which is a shrine of Shiva.

Jagannath

Jagannatha Puri Temple

Located in the present state of Odisha, India. This temple is dedicated to lord Krishna, his brother Balram, and his sister Subhadra. Krishna was an incarnation of Lord Vishnu.

This is a Vishnu temple and the Shiva temple pairing it is Lingaraja temple.

Dwarka

Dwarkadhish Temple

Temple dedicated to Lord Krishna in the present state of Gujrat. Krishna was an incarnation of Vishnu and he ruled here. That is why one name of Krishna is Dwarkadhish or Dwarka-Naresh, meaning the king of Dwarka.

This Vishnu temple is paired with Shiva’s jyotirlinga Somnath temple.

Rameshwaram

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This is a Lord Shiva temple. If you break the word Rameshwaram it is Rama + Ishwaram. The one who is the Ishwar or the lord of Rama.

As per Ramayana, lord Rama built a Shivalinga of sand and worshipped lord Shiva for his victory on Ravana. (If you know more about it, please comment). This is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas as well.

This one is paired with the Ram-Setu (the bridge built by Rama to reach Lanka) and in some contexts it is believed to be paired with the Ranganatha Swami temple.

Sequence to Visit 4 Shrines

Badrinath is the First

The story of this place is related to Vishnu’s incarnation as Nara and Narayana. Nar means a human and Narayana means the God. They meditated here and during their intense meditation, goddess Lakshmi grew as a berry tree to protect them from Sun and the rain. This place was full of berry trees. Berries are called Badrika in the Sanskrit language.

This place was called Badrika Van. The forest of berries. So, this place became Badrinath. If you go there you see the Nara and Narayana mountains still there. As this incident took place in Satayuga, the first yuga in Hindu philosophy, this is the 1st Shrine to be established and to be visited.

The time when these 2 mountains Nara and Narayan meet, it will be the time for the end of the world. It will happen at the end of 4 Yugas and then the new world will be established. (This I heard from people of Badrikashram)

Rameshwaram is Second

As mentioned above Rama built the Shivalinga and worshipped lord Shiva here, in Treta Yuga. This was the 2nd Yuga as per Hinduism, this is the second place to visit.

Dwarka Puri is 3rd

Krishna was born in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, India. He spent his childhood here, however, he chose Dwarka to be his kingdom. He ruled here and this took place in Dwapar Yuga, which is the 3rd Yuga. Hence, this is the 3rd shrine to visit.

If you visit this place you can visit Somnath as well as Nageshwar Jyotirlinga. These are 2 of the 12 Jyotirlingas. Read about these Jyotirlingas. 12 Jyotirlingas of Shiva.

Jaganatha Puri is 4th

Jaganatha is considered to be an incarnation of Vishnu in the current era. The current Yuga is Kaliyuga, which is the 4th Yuga. So, this place is worshipped 4th.

Though the Kalki will be the incarnation of Vishnu who will come at the end of Kaliyuga, Jaganatha is a partial incarnation or an avatar. Vishnu has taken many incarnations. Major are 10 incarnations. I have written a post on 10 incarnations of Vishnu as well. Hope you will like it.

Puri is famous for its Rath Yatra. This is the time when Lord Krishna, Subhadra, and Balram are taken out on a chariot and they are moved around the city. Many people gather to join the Rath yatra.

Conclusion

Hope you have read the article. You got to know the 4 important places for Hindus in India. Every Hindu must visit these 4 places, however, not just for enjoyment, but, to understand the culture and traditions of India as a whole.

You can see that if you visit these places in a defined sequence, you will mingle with people and get to know their culture and traditions. Moreover, you visit these places for a spiritual cause so this will bring harmony and peace among people.

Badridham to Rameshwaram is a long way and then you visit Dwarkadhish temple. This way you are crossing the whole country from North to South and lastly you come to JagannathaPuri crossing India from West to East.

Such a beautiful strategy by Adi Shankaracharya to harmonize people.

There are many ways Adi Shankaracharya gave theories to bring harmony and ultimate spirituality. Read Swami Vivekananda and you will understand a little more about him.

There are many stories associated with these places and sometime we will get into more detail. However, this was a brief idea about how to visit these places in a sequence.

See you in next post.

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