India is a melting pot of many different traditions, religions and cultures. A magnificent country that mysteriously works quite harmoniously in spite of the many differences each and every person shares. From centuries, rulers who reigned different parts of India have marked their presence through building monuments and temples, giving us a clear picture of their remarkable architecture as well as their religious beliefs.
Therefore even after many centuries, certain places in India have remained as a site of pilgrimage for devotees from all around the world. Some even believe that life is incomplete without visiting at least some of the following places of religious significance. Read about the 8 most popular sites of pilgrimage in India.
Andhra's most popular place of attraction, Tirupati, is a city located in Chittoor district. Since it is considered as one of the most sacred places of pilgrimage for Hindus, it has been called as the "Spiritual Capital of Andhra Pradesh".
Sri Venkateswara temple is the most important place in this temple town. After a strenuous climb of over 2000 steps, one can be blessed with the darshana of Lord Venkateswara.
Other temples that cannot be missed at Tirupati include Padmavathi Temple, Kapila Theertham, Kodandarama Temple, to name a few.
Vaishno Devi Temple is a popular cave shrine, is located in the glorious state of Jammu and Kashmir. Settled on the foothills of the Himalayas at an elevation of 5,200 ft, Vaishno Devi is one of the most sought after places of pilgrimage.
It is believed that most of the devotees hear a call from the Goddess herself, and those who experience this will go to the shrine no matter where they are.
A 13 km expedition has to be made by foot in order to reach the shrine. In spite of which, millions of devotees gather to visit the holy destination.
PC: Kapil Pal
Made popular worldwide by the famous English rock band, The Beatles, Rishikesh has always been one of the most important pigrimage sites for Indians. Settled right across the holy river Ganga against the backdrop of Himalayas, Rishikesh in Uttarakhand is a must visit.
Neelkanth Mahadev Mandir, Kunjapuri Temple, Sri Trimbakeshwar Temple, Swarg Ashram and Bharat Mandir are some of the important temples that have to be visited at Rishikesh.
Hampi, the ancient city of Karnataka which is nestled by the banks of river Tungabhadra, was declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to the presence of a group of magnificent monuments built by the royal Vijayanagara Empire. Most of these relics were temples, dedicated to various Hindu gods.
Some of the remarkable temples that have to visited in Hampi are the Virupaksha Temple, Achyutaraya Temple, Laxmi Narasimha Temple, Vijaya Vittala Temple, to name a few out of the plenty others.
PC: Anil kumar
Famous for the Kashi Vishwanatha Temple, Varanasi is a beautiful city settled on the banks of river Ganga in Uttar Pradesh. It is a holy site for Hindu, Jain as well as Buddhist devotees. The marvelous Kashi Vishwanatha Temple is popular since it is considered to be the holiest temple of Lord Shiva.
Other temples of importance include Kaal Bhairav Mandir, Mrityunjay Mahadev Mandir, Durga Mandir, Parshwanath Jain Temple, etc. With the holy river Ganga to wash all the sins away, Varanasi is definitely a must-visit spiritual destination.
PC: Dennis Jarvis
Shirdi is located in Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra. This place is famous mainly since it was home to the respected Saint Sai Baba. Huge number of devotees of Shirdi Sai Baba visit this town every year.
Gurusthan is the most popular place of attration in Shirdi, which used to be the place where Sai Baba is believed to have spent most of his time. Shri Sai Baba Sansthan Temple, Samadhi Mandir and Dwarkamai are some of the other places of interest in Shirdi.
Apart from Rishikesh, Kedarnath is another popular pilgrimage destination located in Uttarakhand. Kedarnath is perched at an elevation of 11,755 ft and is surrounded by snow-capped mountains. It is mainly visited for the Kedarnath Temple, dedicated to Lord Shiva.
Being one of the 12 Jyothirlingas, the temple is open only between the months of April to November. During winter, the idol is transferred to Ukhimath in Uttarakhand and worshipped there. You can enjoy the spellbinding vistas of glaciers, snow-capped mountains and the pristine beauty of Kedarnath.
PC: Naresh Balakrishnan
The regal town of Mahabalipuram is located only 58 km from Chennai, Tamil Nadu. The group of monuments left by the artists of the Pallava period has gotten the town into the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Some of these temples that show us architectural brilliance include Shore Temple, Cave Temples of Mahabalipuram and other monuments like Ganesha Ratha, Dharmaraja Ratha, Draupadi Ratha, etc. Don't miss out on Mahabalipuram if you're planning for a pilgrimage in India.
PC: J'ram DJ