There is something about religious places that leaves a lasting impression of eternal calmness and a soothing warmth that makes you return to have the balm applied all over again! Blame it on the hustle-bustle of the metros where we reside, perhaps, which heightens the effect of this old-world places, but, yet, one cannot take away the charm from the Abode of the Deities. Perhaps, it is due to these places being the Abode of the Deities that they have such an aura of being blissfully shielded from all that keeps gnawing at us in our day to day life.
I have been to a number of religious places, and month long pilgrimages at an age when my peers were going to exotic places! Not that I am ashamed about it, nor the fact that I avoid exotic places. Suffice it to say that, there has been a nice balance in my visits to the various places on Earth! But, giving company to my grannie at an early age, who happened to think that she had to give attendance atleast once in a month to any of the House of Lords, sort of rubbed on me, and while I try to do justice, its not possible for me to be as regular as once-in-a-month!
Manthralayam, Tirumala, Kukke Subramanya, Dharmasthala, Udupi, Srisailam, Malakheda, Venisompura, Kollur, Gokarna, Sonda, Sringeri, Murudeshwara, Tirukkoilur, Rameshwara, Madurai, Sriranga, Vriddhachalam, Guruvayoor, Navabrindavana, Trichy, Palani, Kanyakumari, Hornadu, Mulbagal, Sahasralinga are some of the memorable places I have been to in South India. Haridwar, Rishikesh, Yamunothri, Gangothri, Kedarnath, Badrinath are the main places that I have been to in North India, but then again, the route to these "chaar dhaams" itself goes through so many historic places. Invariably, each place has its own 'Kshethra Mahime', with its own set of legendary stories, purported with so many proofs that are hard to disbelieve. India, rich in its culture and spirituality, has more to offer and more to discover than one wishes to imagine.
Be that as it may, one cannot deny the fact that a visit to such places as above will leave an everlasting impression. One wishes to crave for more and discover more about the Lord than the worldly pleasures. Automatically, one gets attracted to Him and sort of achieves, with His help, an eternal calm.
The vision of standing before the Moola Brindavan in Mantralayam of Raghavendra Swamy, the 21 baths in Rameshwaram at 5 o clock which strangely does not feel as if its cold at all, the enormous temple at Sriranga, the staring at kiddo Lord Krishna through the 9 small squares in Udupi, the Atmalinga at Gokarna, the dazzling Lord Venkateshwara, whom we can just glimpse after hours of waiting in the rushing queue, the peacefulness of Vadiraja Swamy amidst thick forest in Sonde where its a ritual to do 108 pradikshanas with 2 saashtanga namaskaars in each pradikshana, the legend behind Kukke Subramanya and Dharmasthala, the hot water spring in each of the 'chaar dhaams', the 14 km stretch to Kedarnath and 7 km steep stretch to Yamunothri, each one way, the wonderful theertha and scenic view at Hornadu, the strictness at Guruvayoor, the blissful calm at Tirukkoilur - all these have somehow an effect on the mind, wherein one feels an interaction with Him...and one no longer wants to go back to the world!
After all, when God be there with us, what matters who is against us...