20 FAMOUS PILGRIMAGES IN INDIA
2 years ago
“Life must have its sacred moments and its holy places. We need the infinite, the limitless, the uttermost — all that can give the heart a deep and strengthening peace”. -A. Powell Davies
India is known as a diverse country because here different people have different religious ideologies and beliefs. One can find every religion and its followers in India.
Here, we listed down the prominent religious places in India, to head for a visit after the situation cools.
● VAISHNO DEVI, JAMMU AND KASHMIR (THE SANCTIFIED CAVES)
A Hindu temple located on the Trikuta Mountains in Katra which lies within the Indian Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Vaishno Devi temple attracts more than thousands of pilgrims each year. It is said that Mata Vaishno Devi also known as Trikuta prayed for the victory of Lord Rama against Ravana observing ‘Navratra’ and it is believed that Mata Vaishno Devi attained immortality here. Devotees can opt for different ways to reach the temple for paying gratitude, like walking bare feet or on ponies or even by helicopters these days. Navratri is considered to be a propitious occasion to visit this cave temple.
●SABARIMALA, KERALA :
More than 40 – 50 million pilgrims chant ‘Swamiye Ayyappo – Ayyappo Swamiye’ and visit the deity each year, making it India’s biggest known pilgrimage and second-largest known pilgrimage in the world after the Haj Yatra of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. Sabarimala is also known as the Dharma Sashta and the Ayappan who resides here is known to be the son of Mohini ( the feminine incarnation of Lord Vishnu ) and Shiva.
On the banks of River Pampa, Sabarimala Temple is located in the Periyar Tiger Reserve, in Pathanamthitta district of Kerala. A ritual before visiting this place included 41 days fasting as this holy site is considered to have a brahmachari God and women of age 12 – 50 ( years of the menstrual cycle ) were prohibited from entering inside until SC turned the restriction on 28th September 2018. This place is swarmed up during Mandalapooja, Makaravilakku, or Makar Sankranti.
● TIRUPATI, ANDHRA PRADESH
Tirupati is one of the oldest cities which is mentioned a number of times in Vedas and Puranas. Tirupati is majorly known for the Lord Venkateshwara temple, situated in the Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh. This holy temple has a belief that Lord Venkateshwara took the form of an idol and is now home to the deity Govinda.
‘Om Namo Venkatesaya’ echoes through the chaotic rush of pilgrims to see the 8 ft tall idol which stands as a majestic sight. Tirupati receives a large number of donations every year from the devotees.
● VARANASI, UTTAR PRADESH :
Even after the world has turned and waves have changed, this city has stayed in place to witness the transformation. Varanasi, being the spiritual capital of India, has a temple at every nook and corner of the city yet Kashi Vishwanath temple is the well – known one, the oldest of all. Varanasi is also known as Kashi ‘The City of Life’ and Benaras. In order to attain moksha from the cycle of life and death, Varanasi is considered to be an auspicious place in the last years of life. It is also said that Gautam Buddha preached his first sermon at Benaras, therefore, making it a divine destination for Buddhists as well.
“Older than history, older than tradition, older even than legend, and looks twice as old as all of them put together.”- Mark Twain.
●AJMER SHARIF, RAJASTHAN :
The tomb of Moinuddin Chishti, Dargah Sharif built by Emperor Humayun is one of the divine places for Muslims to worship in India. This place is considered to be the last resting place of Khwaja Moin-ud-din Chishti. Khwaja Moin-ud-din Chishti is recognized as a great Sufi Saint and had led a dedicated and determined life for the downtrodden and poor. The Mughal architecture here is mesmerizing. Other prominently addressed establishments include Nizam gate, Buland Darwaza, Jama Masjid, Aulia Masjid, Dargah Shrine, Mehfilkhana, and so on.
There are two cauldrons with a capacity of 2240 kg and 4480 kg in the inner courtyard of the shrine used to cook sweet items like Kheer at important occasions.
●GOLDEN TEMPLE, AMRITSAR :
Golden temple is the spiritual and cultural centre of the Sikh religion and stays as a glorious and iconic place of Amritsar. Amritsar is also famous for its Jallianwala Bagh massacre and its proximity to the Wagha border. The satiating food and the generous hospitality of the people here casts a magical spell on the visitor. The colours of Amritsar can be seen during the festival of Baisakhi.
● KEDARNATH, UTTARAKHAND
One of the most divine and holy places of India is the Kedarnath temple located on the Garhwal Himalayan range in Rudraprayag district. Kedarnath is among the twelve jyotirlingas in India which stand as a part of char Dham Yatra. Kedarnath temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. During the winter, from November to May, the deity is shifted from Kedarnath to Ukhitmath and is worshipped there. Kedar is said to be another name for Lord Shiva. It is believed to be built by the Pandavas thousands of years ago and then reconstructed by Adi Shankaracharya. Kedarnath is set amidst the snow-covered mountains near the Chorabari glacier with the Mandakini river flowing in front of it.
Due to its enormous religious significance, Kedarnath observes lakhs of devotees each year. After Kedarnath, Badrinath temple in Uttarakhand is one famous pilgrimage that all should visit.
● SHIRDI, MAHARASHTRA
Shirdi, the home where the great Saint Saibaba resides is one of the few historical sites India offers. Shirdi is located in the Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra. The atmosphere lingering with spirituality leaves one spellbound with a calm and soothing nature. The religious places to visit in Shirdi include Chavadi Samadhi Mandir, Dwarkamai Masjid, and more.
● BODH GAYA, BIHAR
One of the well-known religious places of Buddhist pilgrims, Bodh Gaya located in Bihar is also one of the UNESCO World Heritage sites. It is said that Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment under the Bodhi tree here. A lot of foreign countries including Japan and China have helped the Indian government in building more facilities for the Buddhist pilgrims here.
Buddhist devotees from all around the world reach Bodh Gaya to pay homage in monasteries, temples, and remnants of the Bodhi tree. Bodh Gaya was also known as Uruvela, Sambodhi, Vajrasana, or Mahabodhi until 18 century. It falls under 4 important Buddhist sites, namely Kushinagar, Lumbini, and Sarnath.
● HEMKUND SAHIB, UTTARAKHAND
In between the Himalayan ranges lies a sacred and divine pilgrimage of Sikhs known as Sri Hemkund Sahib. Hemkund sahib means “Lake of Snow”. Situated at an altitude of 4329 m above sea level, Hemkund Sahib is considered the highest Gurudwara in the world. This Shrine is also recognized as Gurudwara Shri Hemkund Sahib. While trekking to Hemkund sahib, a traveler can have a glimpse of numerous waterfalls, thick forests, and majestic views of the Himalayas. This Gurudwara is open only between May to October.
According to the autobiography of Guru Gobind Singh Ji, “Bachitra Natak”, Hemkund Sahib housed seven snow peaks where he meditated in his previous birth.
To seek the blessings of the supreme and witness the crystal clear water, even after harsh and perilous terrain, a number of pilgrims visit the Hemkund Sahib.
●BASILICA OF BOM JESUS, GOA :
The Basilica of Bom Jesus is situated in Old Goa, which was the former capital of the Portuguese dominion. This church is considered to be the historical site attracting a number of visitors globally. Today this church falls under UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Basilica of “Boreal Jezuici Bazilika” maintains the mummified remains of St. Francis Xavier, known to be the co-founders of the Society of Jesus or also called as the Jesuits. It is of pure Baroque style architecture. The church is considered to be the oldest of all. It’s one of the few wonders no one should miss while traveling to Goa.
● AYODHYA, UTTAR PRADESH :
Ayodhya is considered as the birthplace of Lord Rama according to Hindu mythology. It is also known as the birthplace of four of Jainism’s 24 Tirthankaras. This is the site of the 1992 Indian riots related to the Babri Masjid fiasco. The dispute between Hindus and Muslims was raised after a mosque was built on Ram Janmabhoomi temple. Now, After several years of dispute, Hindus won the case and Ram Mandir is going to build on that disputed place. Ayodhya known as the land of multi-faith pilgrimages – is a beautiful spiritual centre to make a visit to.
●DILWARA TEMPLE, RAJASTHAN :
Dilwara temples are located 3 kilometres away from Mount Abu, Rajasthan. Mount Abu is one and only hill station in Rajasthan. Dilwara stands as an auspicious pilgrimage site for the Jains. The sumptuous use of marble and intricate carvings on every nook and corner of the temple is splendid to see. The temple was built by Vimal Shah and designed by Vastupal Tejpal. The temple is a house of other five equally interesting temples like Vimal Vasahi, Luna Vasahi, Pittalhar, Parshawanatha, and Mahaveer Swami temple dedicated to respective Lord Adinath, Lord Rishabh, Lord Neminath, Lord Parshawanath, and Lord Mahavir Swami.
With its simple and disciplined nature, Dilwara speaks volumes about the Jain values and principles.
India’s third-largest temple housing Lord Krishna is located in the district of Thrissur in Kerala. In South India, Guruvayur has emerged as an important place of worship. Punnathurkotta, also known as the Guruvayur Devaswom Elephant sanctuary is one of the largest Elephant Sanitarium in the world. The annual Guruvayur festival held from February – March starts with an elephant race and is a must-watch event.
●VRINDAVAN, UTTAR PRADESH
On the banks of Yamuna, lies one of the oldest cities, Vrindavan considered being one of the significant places of pilgrimage among the devotees of Krishna. Lord Krishna has spent his childhood in Vrindavan. To abandon the worldly and materialistic life, many devotees come here. Among so many Krishna and Radha temples in Vrindavan, famous one’s being Banke Bihari temple and ISKCON temple. The splendid beauty of these temples is an eye calming scene.
● MATHURA, UTTAR PRADESH
Mathura is considered to be the hometown of Lord Krishna which is also considered as one of Hinduism’s 7 sacred cities. Mathura and Vrindavan are known as twin cities. Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi is the most famous tourist attraction in Mathura and the prison where Lord Krishna was born is a tourist place today. The two most important temples in town are the Dwarkadhish temple and the Geeta Mandir.
●MANIKARAN SAHIB, HIMACHAL PRADESH
Hot springs of Himachal Pradesh along the banks of river Parvati in the Kullu district is a known pilgrimage both for Hindus and Sikhs. People who visit Gurudwara Manikaran also revere’s hot springs as the water in these hot springs contain sulfur and cures diseases. The water is hot enough to prepare food by directly placing the vessels and which later is served as langar there.
Puri Jagannath temple that forms a part of Char Dham in India is one of the most known pilgrimage sites for Hindus. Lord Krishna with his elder brother Balbhadra and sister Subhadra houses the temple. The Rath Yatra or Chariot festival that happens in June – July is a must-visit event. This place is known as the resting place of Lord Shiva. The profound and majestic history of Puri from 3rd century BC completing a Golden triangle with Konark and Bhubaneswar has a major traditional cultural significance.
● PUTTA PARTHI, ANDHRA PRADESH
The holy, divine and legendary figure of Sathya Sai Baba takes you back to the past lifestyle with an equal touch of today. This place has gained a global frame as a center for religious brilliance. It is considered to be the town that offers modern approaches to religion. Even though it doesn’t consist of traditional tourist attractions, it abides spiritual significance.
Places like Sathya Sai Ashram, Sri Sathya Sai space theatre, Anjaneya Swamy temple, etc are highlights of this place.
● TAWANG, ARUNACHAL PRADESH :
This place is considered to be the hometown of the 6th Dalai Lama with beautiful and significant monasteries. Tawang is also pronounced as Dawang. Tawang is significant for Buddhist monks. Tipi Orchid Sanctuary is also an attraction with unique local cuisine.
So be secular in a country like India and visit these religious places in India to have an eye for beauty and spirituality.