A rich cultural heritage, varied wildlife, magnificent mountain ranges, picturesque beaches, exquisite temples and monuments, rejuvenating hill stations, that’s India for you, a premier vacation destination. However, aside from these attractions and the varied destinations, India is also famous for one other thing: pilgrimages. Quite an increasing number of visitors have found out that having an Indian vacation and a pilgrimage is quite an interesting and rewarding experience.
India is a practically a country that is very diverse. Almost all places in India offer its own attractions which draws a yearly influx of tourists and pilgrims from around the globe. Some of the more popular and notable pilgrimage destinations include the Golden Temple of Amritsar, the Dilwara temples of Mount Abu and the Palitana in Gujarat, Meenakshi. The Rock Fort in Tamil Nadu, the Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh, Sabarimala and Guruvayur in Kerala and not to mention the Badami Caves in Karnataka are also targets of pilgrimage tourism.
Being the land of Gods and Goddess, India is at the very center of spiritual and religious activities. Pilgrims flock to holy towns and temples to have religious enlightenment or experiences may them be absolute believers or just tourists interested in India’s rich culture, heritage and spiritual beliefs. Nowadays, travel agencies and tours are packaging special pilgrimage packages for tourists who are looking at India as their next vacation destination.
Pilgrimages are as varied as the religions in India themselves. For example Christian, Jainism and Sikh pilgrimages are now commonly packaged as tours for vacationers in India. Places of worships, shrines, churches and locations where these religions began, flourished or even saw their demised in India are the prime destinations of such tours. For example, the cities like Calicut, Trivandrum, Madurai, Goa and Mumbai are famous for Christian churches which stand in testament to the unique and magnificent architectural feats of olden times. Similarly, the serene worship halls and shrines of Jainism believers offer yet another look at Indian architectural splendor.
Other pilgrimage destination sites include the revered Badrinath temple which is dedicated to Shri Badrinathji and was said to have been constructed by Adi Guru Shankaracharya. The Kedarnath in the state of Uttarakhand, one of the holiest pilgrimage destination in the country, houses the 12 holy Jyotirlingams. Another revered temple is the Vaishno Devi Temple in Katra. The place is so revered by Hindus that those residing in Northern India would make it a point to visit the temple once in their lifetime.
Tirupti Balaji temple which is situated on the seventh peak of the Tirupati hill is said to be richest temple in the country and perhaps even in the world. It has a rich history behind which spans for centuries. Another temple which perhaps rival the popularity of other pilgrimage sites is the Haridwar Temple which is considered the gateway to other sites in Uttrakhand region.
It is said that Haridwar Temple was blessed by the trinity of Lord Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma. The temple is said to purify the mind, the body and the soul of pilgrims. It has become the center of spirituality in the region and incidentally also of arts, science and culture.
We can go on citing pilgrimage sites in India and we will run out of space before we run out of sites to mention. The richness of India’s spiritual and religious traditions is truly an experience worth trying. An Indian vacation and a pilgrimage is something that should never be set aside.