India has always been considered the land of spirituality. Though Hinduism continues to be the oldest religion in the country, India has been the birthplace of various religions like Bhuddism, Jainism, Sikhism and Sufism, and has always embraced new religions that other cultures brought into the country.
India has always been considered the land of spirituality. Though Hinduism continues to be the oldest religion in the country, India has been the birthplace of various religions like Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and Sufism, and has always embraced new religions that other cultures brought into the country.
The pilgrim tour in India is quite renowned on account of the deep faith of Indians in God. The travel packages for Indian pilgrimage are perennial especially in Char Dham and Twelve Jyotirlingas all over India. The pilgrim traffic reaches its peak in summer turning minimum in winters. The India pilgrimage tour is famous for its inherent adventure due to gargantuan heights and trekking tracks. The most important pilgrims in India include: Golden Temple (Amritsar), Hardwar, Rishikesh, Vaishno Devi (Jammu), Amarnath (Pahalgaon, Kashmir), Dharamshala et al. The pilgrim tour in India satiates the tourist in every manner as Indians have the belief that visiting a pilgrim especially Char Dham implies the union with god and surety of true salvation.
Famous Pilgrimage Destination in India
One of the holy Trinity, Shiva is a living God. the most sacred and the most ancient book of India, the Rigveda evokes his presence in its hymns. Vedic myths, rituals and even astronomy testify to his existence from the dawn of time. But Shiva, Destroyer, the mendicant, is undefinable : He is a great yogi. Legend has it that Shiva recounted to Parvati the secret of creation in a Cave in Amarnath. Unkown to them a pair of mating doves eavesdropped on this conversation and having learned the secret, are reborn again and again, and have made the cave their eternal abode. Many pilgrims report seeing the doves pair when they trek the ardous route to pay obeisance before the ice-lingam.
One of the most important event during July/ August, is Amarnath Yatra to the Holy Pilgrimage. This is an annual event when thousands of Hindus from different corners of the Globe visit Amarnath caves. The pilgrims trek from Pahalgam to these caves and worship the great ice Lingam.
Legend has it that Shiva recounted to Parvati the secret of creation in a cave in Amarnath. Unknown to them, a pair of mating doves eavesdropped on this conversation and having learned the secret, are reborn again and again, and have made the cave their eternal abode. Many pilgrims report seeing the doves-pair when they trek the ardous route to pay obeisance before the ice-lingam (the phallic symbol of Shiva). This is an event you certainly will talk about for the rest of your life.
Char Dham Yatra
In the folds of the snow-covered reaches of the lofty Garhwal Himalayas in Uttarakhand are located the sacred Hindu shrines of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. They together form the Char Dham or the Four Holy Shrines. The region is referred as the land of the gods in the ancient Puranas. Scores of pilgrims visit the shrines by trekking arduously along the mountain paths, all for a communion with the divine.
Over the centuries, these sites have been described in sacred scriptures as the very places where devotees could earn the merits of all the pilgrimages put together. Subsequently, temples were built at these sanctified sties for all and sundry.
The Vaishno Devi temple, which is also recognized as one of the “Shakti Peeths” of goddess ‘ Durga’, is situated at a distance of 61 Kms from Jammu, nestled in the mighty Trikuta mountains at a height of 5,200 feet above the sea level. The devotees traverse part of the distance i.e. 13 Km. on foot from the base town of Katra, which is at a height of 1700 ft. from the sea level.
Out of the millions of devotees who throng the place, a large number of yatri are repeaters who visit this place every year. The Shrine of goddess ‘Vaishno Devi’ is reached by an arduous climb. The efforts a pilgrim puts in to traverse this distance kindles in him a sense of mission. The scenic beauty, the landscape around and the constant chanting of ‘Jai Mata Di’, leaves a mystic effect on the yatries, making complete transformation of one’s body and soul. The devotee's mind is freed from all kinds of pride and ego, and he is completely lost in a reverie of gratitude to the divine.
The globally renown Golden Temple, Harmandir Sahib, which enshrines the Holy Book of the Sikhs, the Guru Granth Sahib, is located in Amritsar. Amritsar, literally 'a pool of nectar', was founded by the fourth Guru of Sikhs, Guru Ram Das, who had initially constructed a pool here. The vital nucleus of Sikhism, Amritsar is also believed to be the site, where Sage Valmiki wrote the epic, Ramayana. According to popular belief, Rama and Sita had spent a brief period of their 14 year exile here.
The construction of the temple was completed by Guru Arjun Dev, the son and successor of Guru Ramdas, in late sixteenth century. It was rebuilt by the Sikh ruler, Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1803. The Golden Temple is a two storey marble structure, with an imposing dome of pure gold. The architecture of the Golden Temple, is a blend of Hindu and Muslim styles. The golden dome is meant to represent an inverted lotus flower. The interior of the temple is decorated with semi precious stones, frescoes and glass work.
Haridwar is situated on the right side of the bank of the holy Ganga, and is the point where the river spreads over the northern plains. Associated with both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu, Haridwar is among the seven sacred cities of India. It is also one of the four venues for the Kumbh Mela, held in its magnitude every twelve years. Essentially a religious centre which holds promise of salvation for devotees, Haridwar is also a centre of herbal medicine, and traditional studies at Gurukul Kangri. There are many places of scenic beauty on the outskirts of the town.
It is here that the famous Kumbha Mela is held, once in every twelve years, at the time when Jupiter transits to the zodiac sign of Aquarius. The five main bathing spots that are considered sacred in Haridwar are Gangadwara, Kankhal, Nila Parvata, Bilwa Theertha and Kusavarta. Hari-ki-Pairi, twisted to Har ki Pauri, is the main ghat at Haridwar, which is so named because it is believed that it sports a footprint of Vishnu on a stone in a wall. The best sight at Haridwara is the aarti of River Ganges in the evening at 7 pm performed simultaneously at all temples in Haridwar. Thousands of lit lamps being swayed in circular motions in a rhythmic manner and crowd of devotees singing aarti are quite a spectacle just like the floating lamps and flowers that create a majestic sight in the river just after 'aarti'.
Rishikesh, also known as the 'place of sages' is Haridwar, at the confluence of the Chandrabhaga and Ganga. It is believed that God by the name of 'Hrishikesh' had appeared as an answer to the hard penances by Rabhiya Rishi and henceforth the place derived its name.
1160 feet above sea level, Rishikesh is 25 kms from Haridwar. According to the ancient holy books, its earlier name was Kubjamrak. The four famous pilgrim centers of Garhwal-Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamnotri all share Rishikesh as their common gateway. In the old days, these pilgrim centers were very difficult to cover. But now there are roads from Rishikesh to these points making traveling easy. So, not only do the pilgrims go to these places but also tourists.
It is the starting point for the Char dham pilgrims but also for the people who are interested in meditation, yoga and other aspects of Hinduism. For the adventure seekers, rishikesh is the suggested place for starting their trekking expeditions to the Himalayan peaks and for rafting. Also, International Yoga Week which attracts participation from across the world, is held here, every year, in February on the banks of the Ganga.
Today, this town is a combination of the ancient tradition and modern progress. This has enhanced its glory. Despite of progress its natural beauty is still untouched. That is why Rishikesh is very popular among tourists. Close by water sports like river rafting, etc are conducted. Boating has its own charm.
Since ancient time India has had an unbroken tradition of being the fountainhead of spiritual knowledge in the world. Great seers, masters and incarnations have been born here to spread the true knowledge from time to time. The Sanskrit word "Bodh" literally means knowledge. Buddha thus means "The one who has attained all knowledge". The cessation of conflicts at both the internal the external levels is possible only when one is armed with the right knowledge. Once the conflicts recede, peace blooms and one attains bliss. There are four principal Buddhist pilgrimage sites where most of the buddhist temples and shrines are located. The most important of these are located primarily in the Ganges Valley of India. The major buddhist pilgrimage sites are Bodhgaya, Kaushambhi, Kushinagar, Lumbini and Nalanda.
The sacred island town of Rameswaram at the extreme south-eastern limit of the Indian Peninsula. Rameswaram is the Varanasi of the south and a major pilgrimage centre for both Shaivaites and Vaishnavaites as it was here that Rama offered thanks to Shiva. At the town's core is the Ramanathaswamy Temple, one of the most important temples in southern India. A fine example of South Indian architecture, the temple is renowed for its many pillared (and often painted) corridors, about 1220 metres in length.
Rameswaram is on an island in the Gulf of Mannar, connected to the mainland at Mandapam by rail, and by one of India's engineering wonders, the Indira Gandhi Bridge. It took 14 years to build it and was opened by Rajiv Gandhi late in 1988. The temples here showcase the finest of the Dravidian architecture. The massive sculptured pillars and magnificent corridors of the temples, among the longest in India (197 meters), are known for their beauty.