Pilgrim Places in India

Religious Places in India

India’s diversity is reflected in its vast history and culture. The country has been a spiritual haven for centuries, where people of various religious faiths have lived together peacefully without conflict or animosity. People from across the globe come to India seeking spiritual enlightenment.

The country has a diverse culture where people with varied religious beliefs live together in harmony.  Pilgrim places in India are places of religious importance that attract devotees. Every major religion is present in the country and has its own holy sites and pilgrimage destinations, which must be visited once in a lifetime by every follower of the community.

The prominent pilgrim places in India add color to the cultural fabric of the country. Temples, Mosques, Churches, Gurudwaras, Monasteries, and even entire cities, you can explore the traditions and rituals of the many religions in India.

Some religious places in India are as old as the civilization itself, while others have been built more recently. All of them have their own significance and deep historical roots. They are spread all over the nation, in small towns as well as major cities. You can explore the unique blend of spirituality that defines Indian culture while admiring the intricate architecture of the beautiful monuments.

Some popular pilgrimage sites include Varanasi, known for being one of Hinduism’s seven holy cities, Ajmer Sharif Dargah which houses Sufi Saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti’s shrine dedicated to Islam worshipers since 1200 A.D. Another popular pilgrimage destination in India is Amritsar, home to the Golden Temple. The temple attracts Sikh pilgrims from all over the world on special occasions like Guru Nanak Jayanti.

You can explore these places of religious importance  and get a more authentic experience of India:

1. Vaishno Devi Mandir

Vaishno Devi Mandir, Katra, Jammu, India
Vaishno Devi Mandir (courtesy: ajaykumarjana)

Vaishno Devi is a cave shrine in the temple town of Katra in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. The famous Vaishno Devi Mandir attracts pilgrims from all over the world. The cave is located amidst the three-peaked mountains of Trikoot Parvat, also known as Trikuta.

Over one crore pilgrims visit this holy place annually to seek the blessings of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji. It is therefore India’s second most visited pilgrimage destination. The popularity of the temple is attributed mainly to the unshakable belief that devotees have for the goddess.

The shrine is located 13 kilometers away from Katra in Jammu & Kashmir. From Jammu, it takes less than three hours by road to reach the pilgrimage. You can also avail the Indian railway services to Katra Railway Station which is just 2 kilometers away. Pilgrims visit this Shakti Peeth to pray for their wishes and desires to be fulfilled.

A natural rock formation in a cave is revered as Mata Vaishno Devi. The cave can be reached after the holy Yatra (trek) of 13 kilometers, while facilities of helicopter and pony rides are also available in the area. The natural scenery of the surroundings is mesmerizing and pleasant weather coupled with the holy vibe adds to the charm of the destination. Along the Yatra route, you can enjoy local dishes such as rajma rice and kadhi rice, among other vegetarian delicacies.

2. Varanasi

Varanasi, Pilgrim Place in India
Varanasi, Pilgrim Place in India (courtesy: jannesjacobs)

Located in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, Varanasi is popular as the World’s oldest living city. Also known as Kashi (City of Life) and Benaras it is the most revered city of Hindus. It has been called “the most pious place on Earth” for centuries due to its location along a major tributary in the Ganges River that Hindus believe spiritually purifies anyone who bathes there.

The religious city is the spiritual capital of India and among the seven holiest cities of the country. The experience of strolling along the narrow lanes of the city and watching the slow-paced life at its various Ghats may be exciting and overwhelming at the same time.

The city is considered the abode of Lord Shiva and is resplendent with temples dedicated to him. The most popular among them is the Vishwanath Temple, which is considered one out of the 12 Jyotirlingas. Thousands of devotees travel from across the country to experience the soothing spiritual ambiance and seek blessings from Shiva.

The charm of Kashi can be attributed to the spiritual chants against the gurgling of the Ganges. According to Hindu culture, Varanasi is the gateway to salvation, so people also pay homage to their forefathers in the holy waters of the city.

You can explore the culture of the city as you stroll along the Dashashwamedh Ghat and visit the centuries-old temples. Witnessing the Evening Aarti Ceremony at the bank of the Holy Ganges and shopping for authentic Banarasi Silk Sarees are must-try activities in Varanasi.

3. Puri

Puri Odisha, Pilgrim Destination in India
Puri Odisha (courtesy: gangadharsamantara)

Puri also known as Purusottama Kshetra is one of the most popular pilgrimage destinations in India. Revered as the ancient land of Lord Jagannatha, it is among the sacred ‘Char Dham’ sites. The temple city is dotted with several old temples that carry great religious, historical, and architectural value. The rich cultural heritage of the city makes it alluring for tourists.

Historically known as Sri Kshetra, this wealthy town was invaded 18 times by Hindu and Muslim rulers who desired its treasures such as golden coins from temple walls to statues made out of gold under the ground which has been found during excavation projects conducted over time.

The popularity of Puri keeps growing even after centuries have passed since its existence. 

Puri is located on the east coast of India on the Bay of Bengal in Odisha. Jagannath Temple is the most prominent pilgrimage destination in the city. King Indradyumna built the temple in the 11th century. The temple is the abode of Lord Jagannath, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu.

The best time to witness the grandeur of the glorious temple is during the annual Rath Yatra ceremony. You can also visit the spectacular Puri Beach and Chilka Lake during your visit to the city. Among the other prominent things to do in Puri is shopping at Pipili. This town in Puri is famous for handicraft products such as pillow covers, sheets, and handbags embroidered with animals, birds, and flowers.