India's rich culture and heritage is reflected thoroughly by the presence of innumerable pilgrimage sites. Every year, the most famous pilgrimage sites are visited by millions of devotees who travel from all across the country or even worldwide.
While these select religiously significant sites might mostly be recognised just for their temples or ghats, it is only natural that these temples steal all the limelight. But many of these places have so much more to discover, which has been surfacing in the recent years.
Read about these 6 destinations in India that are known for more than just the places of religious significance.
Beach Hopping In Gokarna
Gokarna happens to be one of the seven prime Hindu pilgrimage sites that is dotted with numerous important temples. However, in the recent years, Gokarna's beaches have received tourist attention due to which it is now a relatively isolated and favoured beach destination.
PC: Sudharsan Narayanan
Adventure Sports In Rishikesh
Being one of the most important pilgrimage sites of India, Rishikesh is a beautiful place in Uttarakhand that is nestled amidst lofty mountain ranges and majestic river waters. The town is spread with temples, like Tryambakeshwar, Lakshman Temple, Virabhadra Temple, etc., that hold immense religious significance.
But due to the stunning landscape of Rishikesh, adventure sports, like white-water river rafting, bungee jumping, trekking and paragliding, are some of the many activities that are now available at this scenic town.
PC: Enayet Rasul
Live A Hippie Life At Hampi
Hampi is a temple town in Karnataka that houses magnificent monuments of the Vijayanagara Empire due to which they are now a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
While Hampi has always been a popular religious site, a town near Hampi known as Virupapur Gadde has recently gained recognition worldwide due to its tranquil and relaxed atmosphere. Westerners incorporating a hippie lifestyle now pack their bags to this town which is a 10-minute boat ride from Hampi.
PC: Dey Sandip
Explore The Heritage Of Puri
Jagannath Temple of Puri is the most famous temple of this town in Odisha since it is one of the original sites of Char Dham in India. Other places, like Gundicha Temple and Pancha Tirtha or the 5 sacred bathing spots, etc., make Puri one of the important pilgrimage sites in Odisha.
You can revel in the heritage of Puri by visiting the District Museum that displays many intriguing artefacts or relax in the Balighai Beach.
PC: Asim Chaudhuri
Auden's Col Trek To Kedarnath
Kedarnath is a sought-after pilgrimage destination in India since it is home the the Kedarnath Temple, which is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. It is a town located in Uttarakhand that is surrounded by majestic snow-capped peaks and glaciers.
However, Kedarnath is also a favoured trekking destination since the Auden's Col trek, that connects Gangotri to Kedarnath, is a strenuous and popular trek amongst trekking enthusiasts.
Spot Deers At Tirumala
While we all are aware of the famous Venkateshwara Temple at Tirumala, where millions of devotees gather every year, it is natural to overlook other places of interest. Visit the deer park located nearby where you can witness friendly deer that might even, sometimes, approach you!
You can also head to the Venkateshwara National Park where you can see animals like tigers, jackals, rare golden geckos, to name a few.
PC: Karunakar Rayker