Shakti, the power that streams through this world, can be tapped and used by ordinary people, for whom the distant horizon of the far shore is not nearly as significant as the landscape of this shore. It is to the power seats of Shakti that they bring their prayers for birth and health, marriage and longevity, a good planting and a good harvest…for it is in the land itself that she has her domain.
The rivers of India are considered the life-blood of the sub-continent, and flow as the veins of Shakti, giving life and sanctity to the landscape. Shakti is the primordial energy of the goddess in Hinduism, who manifests herself in the natural world as Shakta Pitha’s- Power Seats of the Goddess. These power seats are places where the divine energy of the Goddess is said to reside, some of her embodied Goddesses include the well-known Hindu deities, Parvati, Lakshmi, and Kali. The power of the goddess gives Shakti/life to manifest reality, even other gods. Shakta are Hindus who devote the majority of their worship towards Shakti, aside from the three other directions of worship manifested as Shiva, Vishnu, and formless worship.
Dakshineswar Kali, Vaishno Devi, Varanasi, and Haridwar are all Shakta sacred sites in Northern India. Haridwar and Dakshineswar are grand temples, while Vaishno Devi is a mountain shrine, which towers above the Indus. In addition, Varanasi is considered the holiest city in Hinduism. Three rest by the Ganges River, which itself is said to be the liquid form of Shakti. All four of the sites are considered highly sacred to Devi, the Hindu Goddess.
 Eck, Diana L. Banaras, City of Light. New York: Columbia University Press, 1999. Pages 269-270