Whenever I plan a trip to India, it seems the first thing I do, is start looking at maps. I have always been a map person, as there is some romantic imagery for me, especially when I look at a map of India. The shape of this country has always invoked in me, a sense of spirituality and wonderment, as if the very shape of it is somehow what a spiritual holy land should look like.
There are so many ways to travel in India; on foot, by bicycle rickshaw, or the motorized “cockroach” rickshaws, by bus, by plane, or my favorite, by train.
Actually we are planing to go to Vrndavana, but will take in some other places of interest as well. The following are some selections from Srila Prabhupada’s books which describe India, Vrndavana, and the purpose of pilgrimage etc.
The purpose of pilgrimages is to remember the Lord constantly, and therefore the Lord is known as tīrtha-kīrti. The purpose of going to a place of pilgrimage is to get the chance to glorify the Lord. Even today, although times have changed, there are still pilgrimage sites in India. For example, in Mathurā and Vṛndāvana, where we had a chance to stay, people are awake from early in the morning at 4 A.M. up until nighttime and are constantly engaged, some way or other, in chanting the holy glories of the Lord. The beauty of such a pilgrimage site is that automatically one remembers the holy glories of the Lord. His name, fame, quality, form, pastimes and entourage are all identical to the Lord, and therefore chanting the glories of the Lord invokes the personal presence of the Lord. Any time or anywhere pure devotees meet and chant the glories of the Lord, the Lord is present without any doubt. It is said by the Lord Himself that He always stays where His pure devotees chant His glories. (from purport SB 3.1.45)
Places of pilgrimage yield a special advantage for a devotee in quickly advancing his spiritual life. Lord Kṛṣṇa lives everywhere, but still it is very easy to approach Him in holy places of pilgrimage because these places are inhabited by great sages. Lord Śrī Kṛṣṇa says that He lives wherever His devotees are chanting the glories of His transcendental activities. (from purport SB 4.8.42)