Mountains in Hinduism

In Hinduism, mountain is a place where the divine resides and therefore a living symbol and a source of strength. The most famous mountain in Hindu religion is the Mount Kailash in Tibet, the abode of Lord Shiva. Thousands of Hindu temples are located on hill tops like the Tirumala Tirupati Balaji Temple, Amarnath Cave Shrine, Vaishano Devi Shrine and Sabarimala Ayyappa Temple. The thousands of hill shrines and several revered mountains are a testimony to the fact that Hinduism is deeply rooted in Nature.

Mount Meru is the center of the world in Hindu religion and it acts a pivot for the three worlds. Himavan is the mountain god in Hindu mythology and is the father of Goddess Parvati. Mount Mandara was used as a churning pole to churn the ocean to get amrit (Ambrosia).

Puranas and epics are filled with legends associated with various mountains in Himalayas, the Vindhyas, the Satpuras, the Western Ghats and the Eastern Ghats. The Markandeya Purana gives a list of seven Kula Parvatas – Mahendra in Orissa, Malaya in Western Ghats, Suktiman in Eastern Ghats, Riksha, Vindya and Pariyatra all in the Vindhyas – which are considered as heaven. Srimad Bhagavad Purana also gives a list of sacred mountains.

Earlier, some of the hill top shrines were accessible only through arduous treks and several people failed to make it to the shrine and many gave up halfway through the pilgrimage. But why were shrines built on such inaccessible mountain tops?
K.R. Vaidyanathan writes in his book ‘Pilgrimage to Sabari’
The reason is that our sages thought that unless an element of rigor and sacrifice was added to worship, belief in God would not be firm and enduring. A long and arduous pilgrimage is surely one way of communing with God. One sees nature in all its ruggedness and sublime beauty. The whole atmosphere is permeated with a deep and abiding faith in God. And it is this faith that impels the pilgrim to move on towards the shrine, however weak he may be in body and mind. He feels that he is on a mission and his only wish is to reach His shrine and have the eye-filling darshan of the Lord. Finally, a he stands in His presence, with veritable tears of joy and thankfulness, he feels he has achieved the near impossible having surmounted the physical hazards of the trek, and experiences of profound sense of fulfillment.