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Himalaya Religions, Himalayan Religion, Main Religions of Himalayas, Major Religion Group in Himalayan Range
The Himalaya, roof of the world, is a magic place where the magnificence of the world's highest mountains is mirrored in the rugged beauty and unique culture of the people who live in their shadow.

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Delhi Manali Leh Jeep Safari

Nepal Tour

Duration: 06 Nights - 07 Days

Manali - Leh Jeep Safari

Duration: 07 Nights - 08 Days

Vaishno Devi Tour Package

Duration: 08 Nights - 09 Days

Nepal with India Tour

Duration: 09 Nights - 10 Days

Eastern Himalayan Cultural

Duration: 11 Nights - 12 Days

Darjeeling Tour

Duration: 05 Nights - 06 Days

Darjeeling Gangtok Kalimpong Tours
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Home >> About Himalayas >> Religions in Himalaya
Religions in Himalaya
Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam
Ladakh, Sikkim, Lahaul & Spiti And Tibet

Land Of Lord Shiva
Central Place of HinduismSince time immemorial, the Himalayas has been recognized as the sanctuary for ascetics and philosophers. The Himalayas also occupy a central place in Hinduism. The whole region is considered the realm of Shiva- the supreme ascetic, and 'Pashupati' - the protecting deity of pastoral herds. Lord Shiva is worshipped in the form of a lingam - a phallus symbolizing the male principle in the universe. In his manifestation as the cosmic darer, the 'Natraja', he rhythmically creates and destroys the cosmos.

Famous shrines like the ice cave at Amarnath in Kashmir, the glacial formation at Kedarnath in Garhwal, and Jageshwar amidst a thick stand of deodar in Kumaon are dedicated to him. Kalidas, a resident of Ujjain, a city of Shiva, aptly described the Himalaya as the dazzling laughter of Shiva.

Nor is Vishnu the protector forgotten here. Interstingly, Sankara, a Saiva 9akso spelt as Shaiv) South Indian saint from Kerala, at the southernmost tip of India, is credited with the restoration and consecration of the Badrinath shrine - one of the four major pilgrimages prescribed for a believing Hindu. It is a 'Dhama' (an important sacred destination).

Gompas (monasteries) like Hemis and Lamayuru in Ladakh or Rumtek in Sikkim hold an important place for Buddhist worshippers. Many of these have preserved with loving care the heritage of Tibetan art and culture.

There is a venerated Sikh shrine at Hemkund, a high-altitude lake on the fringer of the Valley of Flowers. Legend informs us that it was here that a Sikh guru did penance and was rewarded with a divine vision.

Influence Of Islam
Islam and Christianity also have a distinct presence in the Himalayas. While the Muslims of the valley of Kashmir are mostly descendants of people who converted to Islam after the conquest by Muslim invaders, the Ladakhis adopted Islam after encountering it via the Central Asian trade route. On India's northeastern frontier, Christian missionaries won many converts among the tribes. Proselytizing has gone hand in hand with the spread of education and health care. One can also discern traces of animist of Bon worship in tribal areas bordering Tibet. In Kumaon, Gharwal and Himachal local, pre-Aryan deities vie with the Gods of the Hindu pantheon for propitiation by the faithful.

Religious Harmony
Religious HarmonyBy and large, different religious groups have coexisted peacefully in the Himalayas. There is certainly something in the atmosphere, which makes the spirit soar and quest for eternal truths. This is what renders even more painful the ravages wrought in the environment.

The people of the Himalayas have a distinct economic, political and religious identity. They display a remarkable similarity in ways of life, social customers, economic practices and religious beliefs. Their occupations and ethnic characteristics are akin to those of the people who live in the north and south of them. In the southern belt, the Hindu influence predominates while to the north the imprint of Tibet and its Buddhism is more markedly discernible. However, the most impressive feature of life here is its dynamic synthesis of the diverse influences to which it has been subject throughout history.

The region has always been an integral part of India geographically and culturally. Kashmir and Kumaon as well as Nepal and Assam find repeated mention in ancient Indian literature and inscriptions. It seems that this area came that this area came under the influence of Tibet only after the death of King Harsha in the 7th century AD. Scholar - Monk's negotiated perilous passes and frozen slopes to share the message of Indian religious teachings and culture.

The Muslim Invasion
The Muslims established themselves in the Indian plains in the 11th and 12th centuries. All major northern states succembed before the onslaught, and the political system was drastically changed. One of the commanders of Qutubuddin Aibak attempted an invasion of Tibet but could not advance beyond the foothills. Muhammad bin Tughluq (also spelt as Tughlaq) also failed in a similar attempt. The Himalayan frontier maintained its essential character.

Some Rajput princes, escaping from the Turko-Afghan invaders, took to the hills with the remains of their armies and camp followers and founded independent principalities there. They brought Hindu culture and traditions with them but, inevitably, also absorbed local traditions and practices. Most of them recognized the suzerainty of the Emperor of Delhi. The Mughals sought to freeze the frontier, some even tried to expand their control northwards.

Akbar brought Kashmir under his control in 1586 and Shah Jahan sought to subdue Ladakh so that Kashmir could be protected against any attack from Central Asia. Aurangzeb in his time authorized his men in Bengal to invade Assam. As Ladakh was then being threatened by an expansionist Tibet, it thought it wise to forge close links with the Mughals and it was finally rendered a vassal in 1665.

Advent Of The Colonial Rule
The British, after their advent, sought to establish contact with the countries across the Himalayan barrier. Strategy and commerce dictated this. The proselytizing zeal of Christian missionaries also contributed to a keen interest in this region. Their conquests soon brought them to the foothills but it was only with their victory in the Anglo-Nepalese War of 1816-17 that they achieved a breakthrough.

The war opened trade channels and increased their contacts with the territories beyond the Himalayas. This also helped them consolidate their position in their imperial rivalry with Russia in the Central Asian area. Tibet had become enfeebled by this time and had retreated into an isolationist shell. The British, having established themselves in India, could now mould their expansionist polices at will. This situation continued till India became independent on 15 August 1947.

Sino-Indian Relations
With the success of the Maoist revolution and assumption of power by the Communists in China, unexpected strains were introduced in the region. The geopolitical significance of the Himalayan borderland increased dramatically with the 'liberation' of Tibet in1950. The Sino-Indian border dispute transformed the relationship between India and the Himalayan Kingdoms of Nepal and Bhutan. It would not be an exaggeration to say that, ever since the clash of arms between the two Asian giants in 1962, the strategic considerations have dominated in the Himalayas.