Every spiritual tradition recognizes some places as holy. Visit to such places, connected with specific behavior, is considered to be spiritually purifying and constitutes an important part of spiritual practice.
Holy place, or place of pilgrimage, is called tirtha ("ford") because there one can cross the stream of samsara and reach the spiritual dimension. Even a simple stay in such place has a purifying effect which can be increased by following specific spiritual practices.
The holy places are described in the scriptures in detail with their spiritual characteristics. They are usually rivers (Ganges, Yamuna), lakes (Puskara, Radhakunda), mountains (Abu, Sri Saila), forests (Dandakaranya, Naimisaranya), cities (Varanasi, Ayodhya)
"My Lord, devotees like your good self are verily holy places personified. Because you carry the Personality of Godhead within your heart, you turn all places into places of pilgrimage." (SB 1.13.10)
Places of pilgrimages are meant for eradicating the sins of the pilgrims, and they are distributed all over the universe just to give facility to all concerned for attaining pure existence and God realization. One should not be satisfied, however, merely by visiting the places of pilgrimage and performing one's prescribed duties; he should be eager to meet the great souls who are already there, engaged in the service of the Lord. In each and every place of pilgrimage, the Lord is present in His various transcendental forms( These forms are called arca-murtis ).
The Lord is transcendental to our mundane senses. He cannot be seen with our present eyes, nor can He be heard with our present ears.
The Lord is all-powerful, and therefore He is able to accept our service by presentation of His arca form.
No one should think the arca in the temple to be an idol. Such an arca-murti is not an idol but the Lord Himself, and to the proportion to which one is free from sins, he is able to know the significance of the arca-murti. The guidance of a pure devotee is therefore always required.
My Tirtha : Bad Meinberg-Yoga Vidya