Every year, millions of pilgrims of all faiths travel from across India and across the world to visit their holy temples, shrines and sacred places. Many sacred pilgrimage sites lie along the entire length of Ganga. The Char Dham, temples which mark the origin of four of India’s sacred rivers including Ganga and Yamuna, attract thousands of pilgrims each year, who travel long distances into the sacred Himalayas to reach and have darshan of the deities with the temples and the birthplace of the sacred rivers.
However, the increasing traffic of pilgrims each year has not entirely had a good affect on the fragile Himalayan environment and rivers. Due to lack of proper sanitation facilities, lack of solid waste management, and haphazard constructions, the environment is being destroyed and the sacred rivers are being polluted right at their source.
With the idea that the environment leading up to these sacred areas – not just the Char Dham, but all sacred pilgrimage sites – is just as sacred and in need of reverence as the holy places themselves, Ganga Action Parivar is working alongside the Green Pilgrimages Network to “green” not only the temples, mosques, shrines, gurdwaras, churches and other sacred buildings along Ganga, but also to “green” the pilgrimage routes used to reach these places.
- Developing, renovating and beautifying India’s sacred pilgrimage areas along Ganga and Her tributaries to make them truly “green” pilgrimage destinations, such as the Char Dham
- In this line, also “greening” the actual routes to reach these sacred areas, with the belief that the environment along the journey to the holy places is just as sacred and just as important to protect as the sacred area itself
- Includes plans to create solid waste systems, eco-friendly toilets, clean water facilities, relocation of haphazard constructions that encroach on the rivers and the temples, tree plantation programs, and ways to reduce vehicular congestion and pollution