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Ramanathaswamy Temple, Rameshwaram. Photo: kumbakonamtemples.in

Rameshwaram


Ramanathaswamy Temple, Rameshwaram. Photo: kumbakonamtemples.in

‘-eshwaram’ is derived from the Sanskrit term ‘ishwar’ which means ‘god’ or ‘lord’ in the English language. Hence, Rameshwaram means ‘Lord of Rama’. The name refers to Lord Shiva who is the presiding deity of the city. Lord Rama is said to have prayed to Lord Shiva at this place.

Situated in the Ramanathapuram district of Tamil Nadu state, Rameswaram lies in the Gulf of Mannar, which is right at the end of the Indian peninsula.


The town is regarded as one of the holiest places in India by Hindus. It is a part of the renowned Char Dham pilgrimage.

Chandragiri


(Photo: indianrailinfo.com)

‘-giri’ has its roots in the Sanskrit word meaning ‘mountain’.

Chandragiri is a part of Andhra Pradesh’s Chittoor district. The village is well known for its historical fort which came up in the 11th century, and the Raja Mahal (Palace) which is subsumed inside the fort. The Raja Mahal Palace is now run as an archaeological museum. The palace is one of the prime examples of the Indo-Sarcen style of architecture prevalent in the Vijayanagar period.

Ankleshwar


(Photo: indianrailinfo.com)

‘-eshwar’ is derived from the Sanskrit word ‘ishwar’ which means ‘god’ or ’lord’ in English.

Ankleshwar (sometimes written Anklesvar) city comes under the Bharuch district of Gujarat. A distance of ten kilometers separates the city from Bharuch. This place is well known for the GIDC (Gujarat Industrial Development Corporation) industrial township.

ONGC (Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited) runs one of its offices from the city. The city is home to more than 1500 chemical plants, which produce a variety of products including chemicals, pesticides, paints and pharmaceuticals.

Ajmer


(Photo: indianrailinfo.com)

‘mer’ is taken from the Sanskrit word ‘meru’.

The name ‘Ajmer’ was inspired from a Sanskrit word, ”Ajaymeru” which translates into “Invincible spine”. The city of Ajmer was founded by Ajaypal Singh Chauhan in the late 7th century.

Srinagar


(Photo: indianrailinfo.com)

The word Srinagar has been derived from two Sanskrit words, viz. śrī (“glory, prosperity”, a name for the goddess Lakshmi) and nagar (“city”), which would translate into “City of Lakshmi” (or, “City of Prosperity”).

However, the earliest records indicate that the city’s name was siri-nagar, which is again a local modification of the original Sanskrit name surya-nagar, which means “City of Sun” (or, of sun god).

Srinagar is renowned world over for its picturesque waterfronts, houseboats and gardens. The other famous local commodities include the local dried fruits and the traditional Kashmiri handicrafts.

Varanasi


Manikarnika Ghat, Varanasi. Photo: Wikipedia

Varanasi, which is also called as ‘Kashi’ or “Benaras’ is one of the oldest city of India and is located on the banks of River Ganga. The term Varanasi is derived from the names of two rivers Varuna and Asi, which still flow in the city even today.

Historically, Varanasi has been the center of Hindu civilization and a seat of Vedic learning. It is for this reason that Varanasi has been more popularly known as ‘Kashi’ or ‘City of Light’ through out history. The city is closely associated with Lord Shiva, the God of death and hence, Hindus hold the place very auspicious to discard the body here in the city.

Hardwar


Evening Ganga Arati, Hardwar. Photo: indif.com

The city, which is also located on River Ganga, is one of the holiest places of India. “Hara’ literally means ‘one who snatches away’ and it refers to Lord Shiva who away the body (i.e. causes death) and grants immortality. ‘Dwara’ means door or gateway. Hence, ‘Hardwar’ means gateway to Lord Shiva. Alternatively, the city is also known as ‘Haridwar’ meaning ‘Gateway to Lord Hari (Vishnu)’.

Thus, the city is considered very holy by both the Shaivas and the Vaishnavas. The names in fact serves as a beautiful example of the concept of ‘Hari-Hara’ – the unity of Vishnu and Shiva, which is very central to Hindu tradition. Hardwar is very famous for the evening ‘Ganga Arati’.

Rishikesh


Performing rituals on the banks of River Ganga at Rishikesh. Photo: Youtube.

Though popularly known as ‘Rishikesh’, the Sanskrit name of the city is ‘Hrishikesha’. The city is located very near to Hardwar and is also very popular for its holiness. ‘Hrishikesha’ is one of the names of Lord Vishnu and it means ‘Lord of the senses’.

The city is also an abode of numerous temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and various saints and Yogis have their Ashrams here.

Ayodhya


Ram Paidi ghat on Sarayu river, Ayodhya. Photo: Wikipedia.

Ayodhya is considered as the birth place of Lord Rama and hence is a center of Rama-worship. Though, in recent times the city has been in dispute, the place has a very long history and is counted among the most sacred places in India.

The name literally means ‘unconquerable city’.

Vrindavan


Kusuma Sarovar bathing ghat, Vrindavan. Photo: Wikipedia.

This ancient city is one of the centers of Krishna worship. Lord Krishna is believed to have spent his childhood here. The name is derived from ‘Vrinda’, which means the plant ‘Tulasi’, and ‘Vana’, which means forest or grove. Thus, Vrindavana means grove of Tulasi. Even today, one can see two small groves of Tulasi within the city, standing as if justifying the city’s name.

(Inputs from various agencies)


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