India is known throughout the world for its spirituality. People from various religions live here in harmony while following their own religious beliefs. Although, secularism is one of the great features of the country, spirituality, forgiveness, purity of the heart and humanity are given equal importance and people try to live their lives according to these. This is the reason why people from all across the country visit various religious places and pilgrimage tourism is on the rise. There are numerous pilgrimage destinations in India that are visited by thousands of followers every year. Even those who are just interested in admiring the architecture and understanding the culture visit these pilgrimage places, though not from a religious point of view. Some of these popular pilgrimage destinations are discussed below so that it can be easier for you to plan your spiritual tour.
Rameshwaram is known as temple town and has a great mythological background. Apart from the Ramanathaswamy Temple, the city has other popular spots such as Adam’s bridge, rail route built over sea and Palk Strait. People visit Rameshwaram to wash away their sins, as per Hindu religion. There are many other temples like Kothandaramaswamy Temple, Gandhamathana Parvatham and four temples of Shiva, which are popular amongst pilgrims.
Also known as Banaras, the city is considered to be the religious capital of India. It has a number of ancient as well as modern-day temples like Vishwanath Temple, Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Dhanvantari Temple and several others. It has as many as 88 ghats leading to the holy river Ganges where many rituals are performed. Varanasi also has 15 ancient mosques.
This is the place where Lord Buddha gave his first sermon after enlightenment. The lion- headed Ashoka Stambh is also situated here. It is also the birthplace of one of the great Jain religious leader, and there is also a temple here to commemorate him. Hence, Sarnath is also a popular pilgrimage place for followers of Jainism.
Kanchipuram is a historical town famous for its temples as well as articles made up of silk. You can find many stone temples like Vaikunta Perumal Temple, Kumarakottam Temple and many other temples of Lord Shiva and Vishnu. You can also find many Buddhism and Jainism temples in the town.
Apart from being the most loved honeymoon destination in India, Kashmir is also an important pilgrimage spot. Initially, only Hinduism was followed all over Kashmir. Buddhism and Islam became popular during the second half of the millennium. Shankaracharya Temple, Sharika Devi Temple and Awantipur are the main temples here. There is a temple dedicated to the Sun God at Anantnag, which is visited by many pilgrims. You will also find many mosques and gurudwaras in Kashmir.
Goa is generally well-known because of its beaches and water sports. It is considered to be a popular holiday destination. However, it has many ancient and modern churches and basilicas, which make it an important pilgrimage for people following Christianity. Goa was under European influence before independence and it has many beautiful churches from that time. There is a famous Basilica named Bon Jesus which is visited by many people to view the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier. Saint Cathedral of Goa is the biggest church in India. There are several other churches that you can visit here.
Amritsar is a very important pilgrimage city for the Sikh community. The Golden Temple is situated here, which is visited by lakhs of people every year. There are Hindu temples too like the Durgiana temple, Model Town temple and Shivala Mandir, which are also very popular amongst pilgrims.
This Yoga capital of the country is visited by thousands of people for meditation and spiritual learning. Triveni Ghat in Rishikesh is where 3 mountain streams are united. People visit here to perform many religious rites and rituals.
The capital of the country was once the centre of Mughal reign and hence today it stands as a prime pilgrimage spot for the Muslim community. Jama Masjid of Delhi is the largest mosque of the country. The Qutub Shahib Dargah is another popular religious place. There are many other Dargahs here, which you can visit for religious purposes.
Puri is one of the most important pilgrimage places in India. It is renowned for the Jagannath Temple which is a beautiful monument. Many pilgrims visit Puri during the annual Rath Yatra and take part in the procession.
It is well-known as the first Dwadash Jyotirlinga of Lord Shiva. It is a major spiritual place for Hindus. Situated on the shores of the Arabian Sea, Somnath Jyotirlinga has survived many attacks. Devotees visit this temple with a lot of faith to get blessings.
Tirupati is famous amongst pilgrims for the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple. Situated in the state of Andhra Pradesh, the temple is well-known for its architecture. Almost 60,000 devotees visit the Tirupati Temple every day and attend the Puja. It is equally important for the pilgrims visiting here to get the ‘Laddoo Prasadam’.
Jammu is famous for its temples dedicated to Adi Shakti. The Vaishno Devi temple is the second most visited temple after the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple in Tirupati. From Jammu, people travel to Katra and then hike up the mountain to visit the Vaishno Devi Temple and take blessings from the Goddess. Pilgrims come here from all over India and even abroad.
Ajmer is home to the famous dargah of Ajmer Sharif. It is the Dargah of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, and it is believed that wishes of the devotees get fulfilled here. The place is visited by millions of people every year from all over the globe, irrespective of their faith.
Amarnath is in Jammu and Kashmir. It is famous for the holy cave, which houses a naturally formed ‘shivalinga’ of ice. You can reach here only after a very difficult trek. The place holds great religious importance as it is where Lord Shiva revealed the secret of immortality to Parvati which was heard by a pair of pigeons as well. These pigeons can be seen in the cave today. Every year, the ‘linga’ is created by ice naturally and people visit it through the annual Amarnath Yatra.
Dwarka is the place where Lord Krishna was brought from Mathura. It is also one of the sites of the famous Char Dham yatra. Dwarka is located in Gujarat and is visited by thousands of Krishna devotees every year.
Located in Uttar Pradesh, Mathura is the birthplace of Lord Krishna. It has many temples including the Krishna Janmbhoomi Temple. This city becomes crowded with devotees and tourists during the festival of Janamashtami, which is the celebration of the birthday of Lord Krishna.
Madurai is a temple town in the state of Tamil Nadu. It holds great religious importance as it is believed that drops of honey fell from the hair of Lord Shiva who had come in the dreams of the king of Madurai and hence the city has got its name. The place is also famous for the Meenakshi Amman Temple which is one of the most popular temples in India.
Bodhgaya is the place where Lord Buddha is believed to have gained enlightenment. It is situated in Bihar and is visited by pilgrims to meditate and pray. There are several temples here including the famous Mahabodhi temple, which is frequently visited by pilgrims from all over the world.
Not connected to any specific religion, Shirdi in Maharashtra should be visited for experiencing sheer spirituality. It is famous for the Sai Baba Mandir, which is visited by thousands of devotees every day. Devotees visit the temple, irrespective of their religion, to seek the blessings of Sai Baba, who preached that there is only one God. It is one of the most visited pilgrimages in India.
Badrinath is a part of the Chaar Dhaam pilgrimage, which most Hindus believe they should do in a lifetime to gain salvation. The Chaar Dhaam pilgrimage involves visiting Badrinath, Rameshwaram, Dwarka and Puri. Badrinath is located in Uttarakhand and is considered the most important of the 4 dhaams. It is famous for the Badrinath Temple, which is visited by thousands of devotees every year.
India is a land of spirituality. Hence, there are a number of temples, gurudwaras, mosques, churches, etc. here. These are just a few pilgrimage destinations in India.