Top 22 Religious Destinations of India

Top Religious Destinations of India

Indian is a den of gorgeous locations, majestic sightseeing spots, amazing architecture and rich heritage monuments. Amongst all these, religion has its own sacred space and the subcontinent’s rich history has a balanced mélange of religious influence that temples and shrines throughout the twenty nine Indian states reflect. Here we countdown the top religious destinations of India that every believer must absolutely visit:

Badrinath- one of the four dhams

Badrinath

For a devout Hindu, the sojourn to Badrinath, the popular Indian religious destination, is like achieving the life’s goal. Rameshwaram in the South, Dwarka in the West, Jaganathpuri in the East and Badrinath in the North are the four Pilgrimage or Char-dham earmarked for all Hindus to visit in their lifetime, to gain eternal Moksha. The high risk quotient being the reason Badrinath has always been considered foremost Hindu Pilgrimage or Dham. More Details…  

Rameshwaram
Top Religious Destinations of India

 

Rameshwaram is a very sacred religious destination for Hindus at the edge of the gulf of Mannar in South and is one of the top religious destinations of India. It’s a small island located at the tip of peninsula, connected by Pamban bridge to main land. Besides, Badrinath, Jaganath Puri and Dwarka it’s one of the four major pilgrimage or Char Dham, that Hindus consider to be most sacred and mandatory for visit once in their life time. Rameshwaram is located 570 km from Tamil Nadu’s capital Chennai. More Details… 

Lord Jagannath, Puri, Odisha

Jagannath Temple of Puri

Situated in Puri, Jagannath temple receives enormous religious tourism every year. Dedicated to the great universal Lord Jagannath, Shree Jagannath is among the top Hindu temples and is the revered fourth pilgrimage (Char Dham) for Hindus. This is also one of the top religious destinations of India. The best time to visit is when the Rath Yatra takes place in June. More Details…

Dwarka, Gujarat

Dwarka

Located in west, Dwarka is a mesmerizing land of unparalleled spirituality and splendor. Legend claims that it was Lord Krishna’s capital once and is now among the revered Char Dham Yatra sites. Local men wear wholly white attire which denotes the purity of the place. A beautiful and sacred site, Dwarka is a must visit for its natural beauty and holiness. More Details…

Haridwar, Uttarakhand

Hardwar

Haridwar is a religious center and is among the most visited pilgrimage destinations in India. Home to the holy River Ganga, the city is also called Gangadwara. Touted to be among the seven holiest places for Hindus, legend claims that Haridwar is among the places where drops of Amrit spilled. Most pilgrims visit the city during the Kumbh Mela when it receives hundreds of visitors who come to perform the ritualistic bathing in the sacred waters of Ganga. More Details… 

Vaishno Devi Temple, Jammu Kashmir

Maa Vaishno Devi

Located amidst the Trikuta Hills of Jammu, the Vaishno Devi Temple is said to be the holy abode of the great goddess Mata Vaishno. Among the top sacred destinations of Indian, Mata Vaishno Devi of Jammu is visited by devotees all year long. Devotees undergo an arduous trek which leads them to the holy caves where the goddess lives. The pilgrimage is not only adventurous but also a one-time experience that most people re-live through the years with annual visits. More Details…

Amarnath Dham, Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir

Amarnath Dham Kashmir

The Amarnath Cave is among the top pilgrimage sites of India and is a shrine of the Lord Shiva. Located at a height of 3,888 m (12,756 ft) near the beautiful city of Srinagar, the shrine is shrouded by snowy mountains. People visit to see the Ice stalagmite Lingam that gets formed on its inside the caves during Shravan month. More Details…

Venkateswara Temple (Tirupati Balaji) Andhra Pradesh

Sri Venkateshwara Swamy temple, tirupati balaji

Renowned Tirumala Venkateswara Temple of Chittoor district is also referred to as Tirupati Balaji. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, this temple is one of the top religious destinations of India and is touted to be the richest Indian pilgrimage center and absolutely worth a visit during the Brahmotsavam festival. More Details…

Harmandir Sahib, Golden Temple, Amritsar

Sri Harmindar Sahab

Famously called the golden temple, the Harmandir Sahib of Amritsar is visited by thousands every year. Not only a religious place but also a historical heritage monument, Sri Harmandir Sahib is a visual delight with mesmerizing interiors. The temple’s construction was overseen by Sikh Guru, Ramdass Sahib Ji and this famed Gurudwara remains to be among the most integral Sikh pilgrimage sites in India. More Details… 

Basilica of Bom Jesus, Goa

Basilica of Bom Jesus -Goa

A UNESCO World Heritage Site in old Goa, the Basilica of Bom Jesus is India’s top sightseeing spot and most popular churches. A landmark in Indian Christian History, the Basilica of Bom Jesus Church is also home to some grand baroque architecture. More Details… 

Ajmer Sharif, Ajmer

Ajmer Sharif

Ajmer Sharif is famous worldwide and is the sacred shrine of the Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti. Also referred to as the Dargah Sharif, several devotees visit the place throughout the year but the best time to pay a visit to the Dargah is during the Urs festival. Ajmer Sharif ia also one of the top religious destinations of India.More Details…

Sai Baba, Shirdi, Maharashtra

Saibaba Samadhi

Sai Baba of Shirdi is revered among devotees of all faiths. A beautiful shrine of the Shri Sai Baba, the place is among top religious places on India owing to Baba’s samadhi and sufi reputation. More Details…

Velankanni Church- the place of deep faith and reverence

Vellankanni Church

A Catholic faith Vellankanni Church is located in Vellanganni town of Nagapattinam District of Tamil Nadu. This is devotedly called ‘Lourdes of the east’ because in South-west France Lourdes church is frequently visited by millions. This is dedicated to the almighty in the name of ‘Our lady of good health Basilica’. Velankanni, has been chosen by Indian government for development, as one of the heritage city called HRIDAY- Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojna. More Details…

Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh

Vrindavan

Vrindavan of Uttar Pradesh is another city visited largely by Hindu devotees for its association with the Lord Krishna as it is where Lord Krishna grew up. With majestic alleys that bear traces of legends sang in the Mahabharata, Mathura is a splendid town. Don’t forget to binge on the Pedas of Vrindavan if you are going there. More Details

Mathura, Uttar Pradesh

Mathura

Mathura is where the great god Lord Krishna was born. A beautiful town, Mathura is a blessed land. With numerous temples and beautiful architecture that portrays the religious legends well; the Krishna Janbhoomi is surely worth a visit. It is also home to the Krishna Janbhoomi Temple which is always full of countless devotees throughout the year. More Details..

Sun Temple (Surya Mandir), Konark, Odisha

Sun Temple

Sun Temple’s architecture one of the top religious destinations of India is splendid and its unmatched spirituality makes it a top choice among religious travelers and pilgrims. Located in Konark, the Surya Mandir, has beautiful metaphorical architecture with the Sun God riding the majestic chariot on the top. The chariot has 12 pairs of wheels with exquisite carving and the lofty pyramidal roof make it worth visiting. More Details…

Rishikesh, Uttarakhand

Rishikesh

Rishikesh, a quintessential tourism destination, is home to several religiously significant sites like Lakshman Jhula, Bharat Mandir, Ram Jhula, Neelkanth Mahadev Temple, etc. Easily connected with surrounding cities, Rishikesh is also famous for its adventure sports. More Details…

Somnath Jyotirlinga, Gujarat

Somnath Jyotirlinga

Believed to be the first Dwaadash Jyotirlinga of the great universal Lord Shiva, Somnath Jyotirlinga of Gujarat has an exquisite importance in Indian religious history. This is one of the top religious destinations of India. Located close to the Arabian Sea, Somnath Jyotirlinga is a sacred shrine visited by devotees all year long.  One legend claims that the Saint Agastya even drank the entire ocean near Prabhasapattan. The best time visit the place is on Shivaratri when vibrant festivities take place. More Details…

Meenakshi Temple, Tamil Nadu

Meenakshi Temple

An amazing architectural wonder located in just as mesmerizing town of Madurai, Meenakshi Temple was built for the revered Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva. Thus the temple has been named Meenakshi (one of several names of Goddess Parvati). If you are taking a pilgrim to the Meenakshi Temple, don’t miss a dip at Golden Lotus tank. Thought to be auspicious, the dip should be taken before you visit the main shrine.  The temple is famous for its hall that has 985 pillars with each pillar bearing beautiful and intricate carving. More Details…

Leh, Jammu and Kashmir

Leh

A haven for adventure lovers, Leh is the place to be but what many forget about the place is that it is home to numerous Buddhist monasteries.  With beautiful and calm Tibetan monasteries, Leh is everything that a spiritual seeker needs. More Details….

Hampi, Karnataka

Hampi town

The ruins of Hampi (Karnataka) are hauntingly beautiful! So many temples bear traces of the centuries gone by and the real splendor lies in the beauty of its architecture. The architectural design is still magnificent and if spiritual tourism is something what draws you then Hampi is a must visit with its Virupaksha Temple. More Details…

Ranakpur, Pali, Rajasthan

Ranakpur, Pali

Located amidst the two mesmerizing cities of Rajasthan, Jodhpur and Udaipur, Ranakpur Jain Temple of Pali is among India’s spectacular religious delights and one of the top religious destinations of India . Built in honor of Adinatha, and best known for its marbles in faded hues, this Jain temple is a grand religious place, surely worth a visit. More Details… 

Ranakpur Pali –Rajasthan

Ranakpur Pali –Rajasthan

If you will look for seven wonders in India, then surly Ranakpur Pali Jain temples will adorn the list. These temples are one of the five premium Jain pilgrimage and acclaimed for its exquisite architectural style and handiwork. No wonder, Ranakpur is well deserved top religious destination of India. In Ranakpur there is one small Sun temple also that is managed by Udaipur Royal family trust.

Ranakpur Pali

How to reach

Ranakpur Pali is located between Jodhpur and Udaipur. Its 162 km from Jodhpur and 91 km from Udaipur. The roads are good and all regular and luxury buses and taxis are available from these cities. Nearest train head is Falna Railway station that is 30 km away.

Visiting hours– are from noon to 5 PM as morning hours are reserved for praying.

Temple history

The famous Jain temple is dedicated to Adhinath Tirthankara aka Lord Rishabh, who was the founder of Jainism. The construction of the temple started in 1437 AD following a dream vision of a local businessman Dhanna Shah. He started the sacred construction work under the patronage of then ruler of Mewar Rana Kumbha. It was said to be designed by one architect named Dipaka. The construction of the temple continued till 1458 AD.

Lord Rishabh

Temple is unique

This temple is fully done in one type of a light colored marble stone. The area of the basement covers an area of 48000 sq. feet. Temple’s interesting spectacle is 1444 numbers of exquisitely carved pillars that support the temple. The temple is spread over 60 x 62 m plot area facing Aravali hills valley. Unbelievably no two pillars are similar in designs and sculpting. You can’t miss one 108 snake head sculpture carved from one single stone.




There are many temples that include Chaumukha temple, temples of two other Tirthankaras Parsavanath temple and Neminath temple. There are Amba Mata Temple and Surya Temple too. Chaumukha Temple is the most important and as the term Chaumukha indicates, this temple is four-faced. Intricate structure of the temple has four independent doorways to get into the chambers. These chambers ultimately lead to the main hall where the image of Lord Adinath, the first ‘Tirthankara’ of the Jains is located.

Chaumukha temple Ranakpur Pali

Architecture

The image of Adinath is four faced facing in four directions. That symbolizes the spiritual powers of Lord Adinath on all four directions, indicating his cosmic reach. The five spires elevate above the walls and around 20 dome shaped projects rise from roof of the pillared hall. Each spire houses a shrine and the largest shrine is the important one that has the central altar. The temple’s ceilings are adorned with foliate scrollwork and geometric patterns intricately done. The style of architecture and sculpture are of Maru Gurjara origin. It highlights supreme craftsmanship of Rajasthani artisans of that era. It’s a mix of Rajasthani and Gujarati craft of 15th century. As experts believe that the architecture of the temple is completely Western Indian than North Indian style, prevalent in those days. Especially Mughal architecture seen in the monuments of that era.

Architecture of Ranakpur

There is one Kumhalgarh wildlife sanctuary nearby where one can take jeep safari. You can also do horseback safari on the hills.

Sri Venkateshwara Swamy temple-Tirupati Balaji Mandir

Sri Venkateshwara Swamy temple- Tirupati Balaji Mandir

 Sri Venkateshwara temple-Tirupati Balaji Mandir is located in Tirumala, Tirupati, Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh. Built atop Seshachalam hills range on seventh hill Venkatadri, the temple’s deity is Lord Venkateshwara-the incarnation of Vishnu. He is also called Govinda, Balaji and Srinivasa. He is believed to save the mankind from sorrows and trials of ‘Kaliyuga’. The temple of Venkateshwara is also called ‘temple of seven hills’.

Sri Venkateshwara or Tirupati Balaji Mandir has amazing following and it’s the richest temple in the world in terms of donations and wealth. The devotees who come to pay their respect and have blessings of Balaji are over 40 million each year making it unbelievably the busiest religious place. On annual celebration Brahmotsavam 500,000 people visit the temple per day. Undoubtedly the Sri Vekateshwara Swamy temple is one of the Top religious destinations of India.

Sri Venkateshwara Swamy temple-Tirupati Balaji Mandir

The temple is built in typical Dravidian style of architecture and it’s believed to have begun in 300 AD. The sanctum sanctorum Garbhgraha is the abode of Balaji standing upright facing east. The statue is said to remain there till the end of Kaliyuga. Interestingly, Kaliyuga is of 432,000 years and it began 5000 years back.

How to reach

Air- Flights are available from all major towns to Tirupati airport.

Road– The roads are excellent, luxury buses available from all major towns. 20 km hilly road from Tirupati to Tirumala up to 1 km from temple. Some people prefer to take stairs or path from Alipiri and reach in 4 hours

Rail– Nearest rail head- Renugunta, Tirupati main and Anantarajupet

Visiting deity or Darshan

Lord Venkateswara’s Darshan is much sought after, people make beeline to enter and be blessed. Tirumala Devasthanam does commendable job to manage such huge footfalls. They have constructed two queue complexes that have facilities such as waiting rooms, fans, water points and toilet facilities.




Puja-way to worship

The worship of the Lord is done by Hindu tradition of Vaikhanasa, praying supreme God Vishnu. The following ways of worshipping is done in Tirumala temple set with the time.

  • Usha kala Puja- Before sunrise
  • Madhyahna puja- in Noon
  • Nisi Puja- after sunset

The worshipping is done by Vaikhanasa priests who traditionally are doing for centuries and are of few family lineages authorized to be in sanctum sanctorum.

Unique Temple facts 

Prasadam

Prasadam Sri Venkateshwara Swamy temple Tirupati

Tirupati laddu is famous prasadam made specially by the temple board, this is offered to Lord Venkateshwara. There are more prasadam like curd rice, tamarind rice and dosa etc.

Hair tonsuring

Hair tonsuring Sri Venkateshwara Swamy temple Tirupati

Many devotees donate their hair to the lord, as token of sacrifice. The hairs are gathered and sold on auction; last year those were sold for an astronomical $6m. It’s second after the donation pot generates money for the temple.

Hundi or donation

The gold donated by devotees is in quintals, few years back temple authorities deposited 3000 kg of gold to the bank. The devotees offer about 20 to 25 million INR per day in the donation box of Lord Venkateshwara.

Thulabharam

This is a way to donate by body weight, sitting on one side of weigh balance and on other side grains, fruits as per the wishes of donator, more than the body weight is donated to the Lord Venkateshwara.

Other religious places around Tirupati Balaji Mandir:

Papavinasam Teertham waterfall wherein devotees take a dip to wash off their sins

Papavinasam Teertham

Swami Pushkarni Lake is highly revered since it is believed that Lord Vishnu himself took bath in the lake.

Sri Kapileswaraswami Temple is another highly revered religious place near Tirupati dedicated to Lord Shiva.

Sri Kapileswaraswami Temple

Vrindavan-where Lord Krishna spent his childhood

Vrindavan-where Lord Krishna spent his childhood

A town located in the Mathura district of Uttar Pradesh in India, Vrindavan can easily be doted as one of the top religious destinations in the nation today. It is the site where according to Hindu mythology, Lord Krishna spent his childhood days. Known for over five thousand odd temples dedicated to Lord Krishna, this town is located just about 11 kilometers away from Mathura, the birth place of Lord Krishna.

Vrindavan

History of Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh

As one of the most ancient of the religious sites Hindus often refer to, Vrindavan is home to one of the oldest surviving temples in the planet, the Govinda Dev temple which was built in the year 1590. The entire essence and the existence of this holy pilgrimage were lost. In the 16th century when the Bengali saint, Chaintanya Mahaprabhu visited this holy place in the year 1515 to dig out the lost places where the traces of Lord Krishna were still existent. Apart from finding all the important places in the region, another female Hindu spiritual poet, Mira Bai also made Vrindavan her home.

With so much about Lord Krishna, this place is a site where all the Krishna worshippers, from all over the world, visit to seek recluse from their lively deeds.

How to reach Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh

Being one of the most visited tourist destination and pilgrimage in the nation, Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh can be reached without much trouble.

  • By Flight: You can reach Delhi from anywhere in the world and then can take a car or train to reach the place.
  • By Train: Trains are available to Vrindavan where the last station to get down at is Mathura. From there, Vrindavan is just about 20 kilometers.
  • By road: Local transport is available or you may drive to the place.

The major attractions in Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh

Some of the major attractions in Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh include the following:

1. Banke Bihari temple:

Banke Bihari temple

One of the most important temple in this town, the Krishna idol here is known as Thakur- ji. The eyes of the lord here are said to be so powerful and piercing that the idol is always behind a veil.

2. Govinda Dev Mandir:

Govinda Dev Mandir

Built in the year 1590 by the then Raja Sawai Man Singh of Jaipur, this temple is a sight to behold.

3. Shahji temple:

Shahji temple

One of the famous temples, Shahji temple has been magnificently designed and holds amazing marble sculpture. The temple is dedicated to deity Chote Radha Raman.

4. Krishna Balaram Mandir:

Krishna Balaram Mandir

Also known as the ISKON temple, this is dedicated to lord Krishna and houses great amenities for tourists.

5. Madan Mohana temple:

Madan Mohana temple

One of the oldest structures in Vrindavan, this temple is situated on the banks of the river and was established on a 50 feet hill.

6. Kesi Ghat:

Kesi Ghat

Located by the side of Yamuna river, Krishna is known to kill demon Kesi here and you can easily light lamps in the evening here. Also visit the Kesi Ghat temple or Jugal Kishore temple at this place, which is one of the oldest tempkes of Vrindavan.

7. Jaigurudeo Temple:

Jaigurudeo Temple

Resembling the Taj Mahal in Agra, this one is made similarly of white marble and is also known as Naam Yog Sadhna Mandir.

8. Sri Ranganath temple:

Sri Ranganath temple Vrindavan

This one is amongst the largest temples of Vrindavan built in South Indian style and dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The ten days festival in form of Rath Yatra Brahamotsav is major draw among devotees during March-April months.

The other nearby places that you would not like to miss in Vrindavan are Seva Kunj, Rangi Mandir, Radharaman Mandir, Radhavallabh Mandir, Sri Gopeshwara Mahavdev temple among plenty more!




Other prominent holy places in Vrindavan are Seva Kunj and Nidhivan which have interesting religious significance that tourists should knoew. Also while in this city, the tourists engage in Vrindvan Parikrima which means walking around the city and attending evening prayer at Holy river, Yamuna.

 So take out time from your schedule and visit this immense religious city, Vrindavan to gain peace and happiness.

Mayapur – a spiritual place dedicated to Krishna

Mayapur – a spiritual place dedicated to Krishna

Mayapur is situated at the point of confluence of Ganges river and Jalangi river, near Nabdwip in West Bengal. Mayapur at 130 km distance from Kolkata, is right there on the world map because this is where the ISCKON headquarter is located. It’s considered a holy place as Chaitanya Mahaprabhu or Caitanya was born here on 18th Feb 1486.

Krishna as Chaitnya in Mayapur

Why millions of people throng this place from all over the globe? Because, it’s the birth place of Chaitanya Mahaprabhu. He was regarded as the manifestation of Krishna in his most compassionate form by Gaudiya Vaishvanism faith. He taught his followers how to attain perfection and fulfillment in life through Bhakti Yoga, simply means, loving devotion to God.  He was a protagonist who showed devotees the way to follow holy Bhagwad Gita to attain proximity to Krishna. Chaitanaya Mahaprabhu’s real name was Vishambhar, from early age he preached Bhakti, the devotion to God. His teachings were followed closely and later in 16th century it became a ‘Bhakti’ movement or Hare Krishna Movement.

Mayapur

How to reach

Air- Nearest airport is Kolkata which is nearly 3 hours away from Mayapur. Flight

Train– From Kolkata trains are every hour and takes 2 to 3 hours to reach Nabdwip Dham

Road–  Taxis and Bus travel services available.

Onward journey to Mayapur

From Nabadwip Dham station, rickshaws are available up to Mayapur Ghat, from there the boats are the medium to cross Ganga to reach Hular ghat of Mayapur.




Places to see in Mayapur

ISKCON’s Chandrodaya Mandir

Srila Prabhupada was the founder of International society for Krishna Consciousness or ISKCON. At his behest the holy figures of Radha-Madhav were installed in 1980 and then within six years in 1986 a huge well planned temple was built by his devotees. This ISCKON temple is famous shrine known as Prabhupada’s Samadhi Mandir, a magnificent memorial site with a museum that depicts different phases of his life. Big white spires of the temple are visible with its imposing magnificence. A bronze statue in classic sitting form of Srila Prabhupada is worshipped by the devotee. Lush green gardens are well maintained and panoramic. Outside walls are decorated with terra-cotta sculpting of Krishna’s various activities depicted in Srimad Bhagvatam. A large auditorium with stage, sound and lights is used for various seminars, for showing ISCKON films and festivals. ISCKON has a Goshala that houses more than 200 cows and given good care.

ISKCON’s Chandrodaya Mandir

Chaitnaya Mahaprabhu’s holy Birth place Yogapeeth

In Mayapur on the banks of Holy Ganga is Chaitanya’s birthplace. The place was discovered in 19th century by Bhaktivinoda. He built an aesthetic temple with figures of Mahaprabhu along with his companions Lakshmipriya & Vishnupriya and Radha-Madhav. There is a neem tree in the courtyard that’s considered exact place where Mahaprabhu was born. He used to be called Nimai also for this reason. There are many other Gaudya Vaishnavanism faith organizations in Mayapur such as Chaitanya Gaudya Mission etc.

Nabadwip

Across Ganga from Mayapur, Nabadwip is identified for its connection to Chaitnaya Mahaprabhu. Historically, Nabadwip was the capital of Sena dynasty king Lakshman Sena in 12th century. There are several religious places such as Dwadash Shiv temple built in 1835. Its exquisite floral design and architecture is its great feature. There are several other temples dedicated to Chaitanya Sonar Gouranga Temple and Sri Chaitanya Saraswat that has big inflow of pilgrims.

Nabadwip

Krishnanagar City

A historical city 15 km away from Mayapur has beautiful Cathedral church, an old palace of Raja Krishna Chandra, rulers here in 18th century. Now district headquarters of Nadia district, it is famous for its mud sculpting art, one can see and buy in Ghumi Putulpatti.

Krishnanagar City

Accommodations


ISCKON has a guest house to stay, can be booked on net, few other temples have the facilities to stay. Hotels are available too.

Amarnath Dham Kashmir

Amarnath Dham Kashmir

Amarnath Dham is an important shrine associated with Lord Shiva. The cave of Amarnath is located at 3888m (12756 feet) above sea level. The cave is 40meter (130 feet) high and legend of this place is associated with a huge Snow ‘lingam’ formed during winters. The significance of the cave is also because it’s the place where Shiva discoursed on secrets of life and eternity to his wife Parvati.

Shiva’s message

Shiv ling at Amarnath

All the places that fall between Pahalgam and Holy cave have significance. It’s said that Nandi the bull was left by Shiva in Pahalgam(Bail Gaon), he took off the moon from his hairs and left it at Chandanwari. On the banks of Sheshnag he left his snakes. At Mahagunas Parbat (Maha Ganesh mountains) he left his son Ganesha and at Panjtarni dropped five basic elements Earth, Water, Air, Fire & Sky. Symbolically he left the world and reached holy cave with Parvati and performed Tandava dance with her, this is where he informed Parvati of his immortality.

Panjtarni

Discovery of Holy Cave Amarnath Dham

A shepherd is given the credit of discovering this Holy Cave. Hindu legend says that valley of Kashmir was under water. Kashyap Rishi drained the water through number of rivers and rivulets. In those days Bhrigu Rishi came that way on a visit to the Himalaya. He was the first to have Darshans of this Holy Cave. When people heard of the Lingam, Amarnath for them became Shiva’s abode and a pilgrimage.

Holy Cave

How to reach

Amarnath Dham is 141 km from Srinagar, one has to pass Pahalgam and Anantnag towns. Foot journey starts from Pahalgam or Baltal. Shortest route is northern route from Baltal to Amarnath caves, that is 16 km. But its gradient is very steep and devotees who are physically in top condition can only dare to venture on this route. Mostly devotees start the climb from Pahalgam and cover 47 km in 5 days and reach the holy cave. In between the following places one pass through from Pahalgam to Holi Cave.



CHANDANWARI

PISSU TOP

SHESHNAG

Sheshnag

MAHAGUNAS

PANCHTARNI

SANGAM

HOLY CAVE

The yatris can hire mules to carry luggage and themselves too. The trek is very arduous and authorities allow devotees to go after medical test. Also it is suggested to train oneself with top fitness conditioning much before the journey commences.  Still few unlucky ones die in between because of ill health or accidents. The Yatra begins in July and ends in August. This period is increased or decreased depending on weather conditions there.

Facilities

The yatra is organized by Amarnath Dham Shrine Board and Jammu & Kashmir government. Many charitable organizations arrange free food, erect tents and resting Pandals for the devotees at various places in yatra. One must book online and take permit from Srinagar. The trust also has tents that can be rented for stay. One must stick to the norms prescribed by the organizers.

Badrinath dham

Badrinath- one of the four dhams

For a devout Hindu, the sojourn to Badrinath dham, the popular Indian religious destination, is like achieving the life’s goal. Rameshwaram in the South, Dwarka in the West, Jaganathpuri in the East and Badrinath in the North are the four Pilgrimage or Char-dham earmarked for all Hindus to visit in their lifetime, to gain eternal Moksha. Now road conditions and transportation system is far too comfortable in comparison to less than a century ago, when devotees used to scale the heights of the mountains, cross the ravines, rivers and cover the distance by walking or riding on mules. The route was so dangerous that several devotees used to succumb to their ultimate fate. The high risk quotient being the reason Badrinath dham has always been considered foremost Hindu Pilgrimage or Dham.

How to reach Badrinath dham

Air– Nearest airport is Jolly Grant airport 314 km away in Dehradun. Daily flights come from New Delhi.

Railway– Nearest railway station is Rishikesh 295 km and Haridwar 25 km farther away on the main line.

Road– Badrinath is well connected with good roads. The hilly journey starts from Rishikesh.




About Badrinath

Badrinath temple was re-established in 9th century by Adi Shankaracharya, when he found the idol of Lord Vishnu made of black stone Shaligram in Padmasana posture there. In Vedas there is a reference of Lord Badrinath and the temple. The temple is devoted to Lord Vishnu and is located on the banks of Alaknanda river. Its surrounded by two snowclad mountains Nara and Narayana. Adjacent to the temple there is a hot water sulphur spring Tapta Kund, where devotees take a holy bath. The devotees can pay their respect to other deities such as Brahma, Vishnu, Mahesh, Hanuman and Kali all under one roof of sacred Badrinath temple. In the sanctum other deities such as Narada, Kuber, Nar & Narayan and Durga’s statues in nine manifestations.

Badrinath Dham

Temple’s Architecture

Temple has three edifices, Garbha Griha or Sanctum, Darshan Mandap or worship hall and Sabha Mandap or convention hall. The spire of Sanctum is 49 feet high. The facade is built with stone and windows are arch type. A broad stairways lead to main entrance of the temple and the pillars are beautifully carved. In the main shrine a 3.3 feet tall image of Badri Narayan which under a gold canopy. Two hands of deity are holding Shankha and Chakra, and two are resting on his lap in a classic Padmasana posture.

Badrinath Temple's Architecture

Yogadhyan Badri Temple

Yogadhyan Badri Temple at Pandukeshwara located at the distance of 22 km from Badrinath and equal distance from Joshimath, in this temple King Pandu of Pandavas installed statue of Vishnu in yogic posture. Udhav the brother of Vishnu is worshiped along with Vishnu in winters. In summers with a great fervor in a festival of “Devwar’ the deities of Udhav and Kuber are taken to Badrinath.

Yogadhyan Badri Temple

Shankaracharya Muth

In Joshimath which is 40 km before Badrinath there is a Muth or religious abode of Adi Shankaracharya. The Shankaracharya comes from Badrinath after the doors of Badrinath temples are closed.

Shankaracharya Muth

Narsingh Temple

This is an ancient temple of Lord Vishnu, in Narsingh avatar, it’s an important temple of Joshimath. It has an idol of Lord Narsingh that was installed by Shankaracharya. When Badrinath temple remain closed during winter every year, the idol of Lord Badri is brought to Narsinh temple and worshiped for six months.

Narsingh Temple badrinath

Rameshwaram

Rameshwaram

 Rameshwaram is a very sacred religious destination for Hindus at the edge of the gulf of Mannar in South. It’s a small island located at the tip of peninsula, connected by Pamban bridge to main land. Besides, Badrinath, Jaganath Puri and Dwarka it’s one of the four major pilgrimage or Char Dham, that Hindus consider to be most sacred and mandatory for visit once in their life time. Rameshwaram is located 570 km from Tamil Nadu’s capital Chennai.

Rameshwaram

How to reach

Air- Nearest airport is Madurai 163 km, regular inbound and outbound flights available.

Railways- Rameshwaram railway station is well connected with the trains from Chennai, Delhi, Bangalore and most major places.

Road- The network of good roads is connected with major cities by buses and taxis. It’s also a good drivable road.

 Legend of Rameshwaram-

The legend of Rameshwaram puts light on some historical facts about Lord Rama. This is the place where Rama built a bridge Ramsetu, in order to reach Lanka to retrieve his wife Sita. Here in Rameshwaram, Rama is believed to have installed a Shiv Linga to pray Lord Shiva to get his blessings to make his quest a success. When he got back from Lanka, he worshipped here with his brother Lakshmana and wife Sita, in repentance that he killed Ravana a Brahmin.




 Ramanatha Swamy temple-

Today a huge Ramanatha Swamy temple consecrated by Lord Rama dedicated to Lord Shiva, occupies 15 acres area and has lofty gopurams, massive walls and a colossal Nandi. Rameswaram Jyotirlinga (one of the 12 in India) also boasts of a 4000 feet long pillared corridor with over 4000 pillars, supposedly the longest in the world.  The carved granite pillars are mounted on a raised platform. The images of Brahma, Vishnu & Maheswara three Gods are seen together here in a unique occurrence. In the temple the images of Rama-Vishnu, Laxman-Brahma & Hanuman-Maheswara can be seen together in their incarnation.

Ramanatha Swamy temple

22 ‘theerthams’

22 ‘theerthams’ or sacred wells are within the precinct of the temple. Devotees bathe in these waters before proceeding to the inner sanctum for ’dharshan’. It is believed that number of wells denotes 22 arrows in Rama’s quiver.

22 ‘theerthams’ Rameshwaram

Architecture-

The longest corridors are the north and south corridors which from each end present a vista of receding columns. The pillars are adorned by intricate carvings and sculptures. The western tower is about 78ft high and the eastern tower 126ft, comprising nine tiers. It’s hard not to marvel the grandeur of edifice and skill of ancient architects and artisans.

 Other sites

Gandamadana Parvatham

The hillock lies at a short distance of 3 kilometers from Rameswaram and is the highest point on the island. Legend says, here a foot print of Lord Rama on a Chakra can be seen. The hill lies at an amazing location and one can get the panoramic views of the entire island from this point.

Gandamadana Parvatham

Five faces of Hanuman temple

The temple is famous for its unique incarnation of Hanuman. The image has five faces namely Lord Hanuman, Lord Adivaraha, Lord Narasimha, Lord Hayagriva and Lord Garuda.

Five faces of Hanuman temple

Dhanushkodi

Dhanushkodi is an important pilgrim place on the Rameswaram Island. Dhanushkodi means the end of the bow and it is the spot where Lord Ram built the famous bridge with floating stones. 

Dhanushkodi Rameswaram

Somnath Jyotirlinga, Gujarat

Somnath Jyotirlinga, Gujarat




Finding its reference in the Nandi Upapurana and in the Shivapurana, Lord Shiva is quoted as saying that “I am omnipresent, but I am especially in twelve forms and places”. While these twelve forms and places denote the jyotirlingas and Somnath Jyotirlinga was the first of them which was found in the planet. Thus the importance of this place and the temple located in Prabhas Patan in Saurashtra located at the western coast of Gujarat in India! This place is considered one of the holiest of the places, especially for the Hindus as it has the shrine of Lord Shiva and also is doted as the place where Lord Krishna ended his human journey before starting his heavenly abode. Moreover, this place is also a great tourist attraction due to the vast history and references this place and the temple has to offer.

Somnath Jyotirlinga

History of Somnath Jyotirlinga, Gujarat

The holy site ofSomnath Jyotirlinga Somanth has been since eternity considered a pilgrimage on account of being home to the jyotirlinga as well as due to being a triveno sangam which means the joining point of three rivers, namely the Kapila, Hiran and the mythically popular Saraswati River! The place getting its name from Lord Soma, The Moon God, cursed with a condition, visited this jyotirlinga to worship Lord Shiva and got relieved from the curse. Glad with Shiva’s blessings, God Soma developed the Somnath Temple on the already existing jyotirlinga to show gratitude to Lord Shiva.

Somnath Jyotirlinga 1

How to reach Somnath Jyotirlinga, Gujarat

  • Being one of the most visited tourist destination and pilgrimage in the nation, Somnath jyotirlinga can be reached without much trouble. Some of the various modes and ways in which you can reach the place include:By Flight:The direct flights to Somnath are not really available. The nearest of the airports are the Diu Airport in Daman and Diu which is about 63 kilometers away from the place and the other option is to reach the Porbandar Airport located in Porbandar in Gujarat, from where Somnath is 116 kilometers away.
  • By Train: The train connectivity to this place is much better where you would find trains from almost all the major stations to the Somnath (SMNH) railway station.

The nearby attractions in Somnath, Gujarat

Some of the nearby major attractions to the temple of Somnath include the following:

1. Bhalka Tirth: 

Bhalka Tirth

This is one of the most important of the pilgrimages where the temple and the banyan tree which mark the presence of Lord Krishna in the locale in his times.

2. Triveni Ghat:

Bhalka Tirth

This is another important religious landmarks near Somnath which is also the holy reunion of the three rivers, Kapila, Saraswati and Hiranya where pilgrims can take a bath.

3. Lakshmi Narayan Mandir:

Lakshmi Narayan Mandir somnath

Dedicated to Lakshmi and Narayana, a pilgrim can seek religious recluse in here.

4. Panch Pandava Gufa:

Panch Pandava Gufa somnath

This is one of the important landmarks in the region where the cave is dedicated to the Pandavas from Mahabharata from Hindu mythology.

The other nearby places that you would not like to miss are:

The Old Somnath Temple, Suraj Mandir, Prabas Pata Museum, Kamnath Mahadev Temple, Parasuram Temple, Junagadh Gate, Gita Mandir among many more!

Hampi Karnataka- Top Religious Destination in India

Hampi Karnataka- top religious destination in India

Hampi is a small town in north Karnataka. The seat of the renowned and affluent Vijaynagara empire, Hampi was once the biggest city in India. Though still regarded for its religious importance because of Virupaksha temple, there are several monuments that are reminder of good old times that are under UNESCO World Heritage site.

How to reach Hampi

Air– Nearest airport is Bellary 60 km away, cabs available from there to Hampi. Flights

Rail– The nearest railway station is Hospet which is 13km away. There are several direct as well as connected trains to reach the place.

Road– There is plenty of government bus services as well as private transport from neighboring states to reach Hampi.

History

Some artifacts found indicate Hampi to be under Ashoka the great in 3rd century BCE. It’s best time was with Vijayanagar empire 1343 to 1565, in pre- Mughals India. Around 1500 CE Hampi had second largest population of inhabitants and a strong army. But Deccan Muslims Confederacy invaded and seized Hampi, because it was secured by mountains on three sides and on fourth side Tunghabhadra river flowing. It went into a time capsule and lost its existence, barring 7th century Virupaksha temple. In 1800 it was rediscovered by one Colonel Colin Mackenzie. This place is historically and architecturally very significant. The Karnataka State Government has proposed to associate ruins of Hampi of India and Machu Picchu in Peru in South America. As per the proposed plan, these two historic sites may soon become sister heritage sites.

Hampi town

Architecture

The city of Vijayanagara was originally encircled by seven lines of fortified defense. These fortifications had a large number of citadels and gateways. The seventh & the innermost fortification encompassed the main city and is conserved. The monuments of Vijayanagara or Hampi can be divided into Religious monuments that include Jain temples, Civil & Military buildings and two Devi shrines. In addition to some other structures in the Virupaksha temple complex of 7th century BE.




Sight seeing

Virupaksha temple-

Hugely important pilgrimage for the worshipers of Lord Shiva. The 7th century CE Temple is one of the oldest functioning temples of India. The sanctum Sanctorum contains the Idol of lord Virupaksha in the form of a Linga. This temple has immense religious sanctity.

 Virupaksha temple

Mahanavami Dibba or Dasara Dibba

It is one of the most impressive structures in Hampi. It is nicely designed stone platform that is located within the Royal Enclosure of Hampi. It was built and designed in the typical Vijayanagara style of architecture.

Mahanavami Dibba Hampi

 Vittala or Vitthala Temple- 

Vitthala Temple is an ancient monument that is well-known for its unique architecture and exceptional craftsmanship. It is considered to be one of the largest and the most famous structure in Hampi-Karnataka. The temple is located in the north eastern part near the banks of the Tungabhadra River.

Vitthala Temple Hampi

The iconic temple has amazing stone structures out of them stone chariot and the fascinating musical pillars are incomparable. Imperious monument is a huge attraction of the ruined town and should be seen by all. Its sculpting is very fascinating.

Gejjala Mantapa

It is an ancient structure with a highly impressive architecture. It is located at a short distance from the famous Vittala Temple and stands near the Chariot Street. The Gejjala Mantapa is believed to have been used for religious functions during the days of the Vijayanagara Empire.

Gejjala Mantapa Hampi