The word ‘Darshan’ has come from Sanskrit. In Indian context it means philosophy. It also means to have a look, to view or to become ‘enlightened’. When one has a ‘darshan’ of an image usually in a temple or chapel, it is more than a look. It is a mixed feeling of having a look on the chosen deity with reverence and prayer. It is a very personal feeling, when the chord is touched striking a fine note. A devotee prefers to keep it to himself, as it is a sort of enlightment for him and is deeply personal to him. When a person goes for a ‘darshan’ in a temple, the experience more or less conjures up with the ‘darshan’ of an image.
Temples are the places of worship for a Hindu, a place of reverence, a pilgrimage where he seeks solace for his confused mind. For a ‘darshan’ of his chosen deity, the devotee is ready to give up comfort and put up with lot of hardships. Darshan of the temple is the glance of the image, the idol, reverence for whom, has made him toil. The two are inseparable in the mind of the devotee who seeks ‘darshan’. The word ‘darshan’ in terms of geography is actually visiting places or sightseeing. You may go on sightseeing to a part of the country or to a country as a whole.
It has to do with visiting landscapes, places of interest, historical monuments and religious sites. It is a visitor who moves around these places and his purpose is to see the land, its monuments, and architecture, know the culture and the people. It is quite different from the ‘darshan’ of the image or temple. It is a different realm altogether. ‘Darshan’ for an Indian can be without an image, a temple or geography. It is the ultimate experience of the existence of the Supreme, the freedom of the soul and spiritual realization within oneself.