There is only one place where God [if he/she/it exists] can reside: your heart.
Why do you go searching for him [let me use that male chauvinist pronoun for convenience] in Mecca or Jerusalem or Vaishno Devi?
God does not confine himself to any place where hypocrites crowd with chanting and rituals.
It is man who imprisons god in such places. With man-made rules. Man-made rituals.
Man thinks he can control god with such rituals. Such pilgrimages.
The crooked man thinks that god is in his control. The crooked man wants others to be under his control.
The straight man finds god in his heart. The straight man does not want anybody to be under his control. The straight man wants man to be free.
Freedom (of the heart) and truth do not go hand in hand. Never have they done.
Yet the pilgrim undergoes such suffering. He is ready to undertake an arduous journey. He is ready to fast. He is ready to climb mountains when his body cannot even sit straight in a chair without a dog collar round his neck or a belt round his waist.
The pilgrim thinks that the waters of the Ganga can wash away his sins.
What washes away your sins is your own heart. For cleansing your heart you may need a trip to a mountain or a desert or an ocean.
But don’t do it in the company of your sycophants.
Postscript: “One of the pleasantest things in the world is going a journey; but I like to go myself. I can enjoy society in a room; but out of doors, nature is company enough for me….” William Hazlitt
PPS: Anyone who looks for company where it is not desirable is a manipulator.