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The name given to the mountain range bordering northern India. Personified as Himavat, it has traditionally been identified as the dwelling place of the gods—in particular Śiva, who dwells on Mount Kailāsa—and is therefore thought to be especially sacred. The Himālayan range contains many famous tīrthas and pilgrimage sites, such as Kedārnāth, Badrīnāth, and (in its foothills, on the Gaṅgā) Hardwār and Hṛṣīkeś(a). In Purāṇic cosmology the Himālaya is situated in Jambudvīpa (‘the rose-apple island’) at the point where mythology and topography intersect—the northern boundary of Bhāratavarṣa (‘land of the Bhāratas’), i.e. India. Its place in the cultural and religious imagination of northern India, in particular, is only rivalled by that of its personified daughter, the Gaṅgā.

Subjects: Hinduism.

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