(Last Updated on : 11/06/2013)
Indian Holy Cities are places where people go to worship their revered deities. People consider a particular place as holy because of the presence of a particular temple. Most of the cities that are considered holy find reference in the sacred Indian Epics
of different religious communities. A large number of pilgrims throng to the holy cities to offer prayers to their sacred deities. Indian Holy Cities are places where geography and history are so closely linked. Every holy city may have a history to tell.
Sapta Puri or the seven Indian holiest cities of Hindus
is believed to be the birthplace of Lord Rama. Lord Rama
was the most celebrated King of this dynasty. In ancient times the city was known as 'Kosaldesa'. The place is described as 'the city built by Gods'. Ayodhya is a city of temples of several religions. The place is also known as Ram Janmabhoomi.
Myths say that Mathura
is the birthplace of Lord Krishna. Situated at the bank of river Yamuna
, Mathura is the divine destination of thousands of Hindu pilgrims. Enriched with beautiful shrines and temples, this city is deeply associated with the life Lord Krishna. Spectacular ghats are lined up along the bank of the river where devotees take bath in the holy water of Yamuna River. The elegant Dwarkadhish temple
is the main temple in the city, which is dedicated to Lord Krishna. The grand celebrations of festivals like Janmashtami
can be witnessed here.
is one of the holy cities of Hindus situated in the Haridwar District
. The word 'hari' means God and 'dwar' means gate. Therefore Haridwar means the Gateway to God. It is said that devas have left their footprints in the place. According to the Hindu Mythology
, Haridwar is one among the four sites where drops of Amrita (elixir of immortality) spilled over from the pitcher which was carried away by the celestial bird Garuda
, the vehicle of Lord Vishnu
, also known as Kashi
or Benaras, is situated at the bank of Ganga River and is the world's oldest living city. Owing to the mythological fact that Lord Shiva
were the first inhabitants of this city, Varanasi has gained prominence as the religious capital of India. Its rich religious heritage is depicted by the plethora of temples which captivates devotees and tourists all over the world. It is believed that death at Varanasi enlightens the path of salvation. River Ganga
, near this city is also believed to have the power to wash away the mortal sins.
, a small town located near Chennai
, is also known as the Golden City of thousand temples. It is one of the most famous pilgrimages of India. The zenith of Pallava
architecture, in this town, is evident from the majestic temples found in Kanchipuram. Apart from being religiously significant, the place has also earned popularity due to its flourishing handloom industry and has been named as silk city.
is the city of immense religious and historical importance. Its religious significance is enrooted in the myth that it is one of the places where a drop of nectar from heaven fell on the earth, while the Demons were chasing the Gods. Ujjain has sheltered many historical figures like Kalidasa
, King Vikramaditya
and Raja Bhoj
, which makes the city, historically, very significant.
According to the Hindu mythology, Dwarka
was the dwelling place of Lord Krishna
. It is one of the four main dhams, the other three being Badrinath
. The Jagatmandir temple which houses the Dwarkadhish (a form of Krishna) is also located here. Dwarka is also the site of Dwaraka Pitha, one of the four cardinal mathas established by Sri Adi Shankaracharya
Other Indian holy cities for Hindus
Apart from the seven holiest cities, the path of reverence and spirituality can also be traced to places like Allahabad
, Arunachala, Badrinath, Rishikesh
. Owing to different legends, each place has evolved as a significant pilgrimage over time.
Indian Holy City of Muslims
is one of the most pious destinations for Muslims. The mortal remains of Khwaja Muinuddin Chisti
were buried in the Dargah Sharif
, situated in Ajmer, which forms the centre of Islamic
religious faith. It is believed that the wishes of a pure heart are always fulfilled in this place. The enchanting quwwali programs organized here during the popular annual Urs festival
are also a point of attraction for the tourists all over the world.
Indian Holy City of Sikhs
is an eminent place of sanctity for Sikhs
. In addition to being a major place of worship, the Golden temple
is also an enthralling beauty which stands amidst the holy water of a man made lake. It's a place where reverence and homage is paid to the Sikh Gurus
. Irrespective of any particular religious belief, anyone can find solace in the serine atmosphere of Golden Temple.
Indian Holy Cities of Buddhists
marks the presence of Mahabodhi temple
, under the Bodhi tree, where Gautam Buddha, the founder of Buddhism
, attained Nirvana or enlightenment. It's a sacred place for the followers of Buddhism and is frequently visited by the Buddhists devotees. The splendid architecture of the temple and magnificent shrines, along with their intriguing history makes Bodhgaya an interesting place to visit.
Located at the north eastern tip of Varanasi, Sarnath
enlists itself as one of the most sacred places of India. After the attainment of enlightenment, Gautam Buddha
offered his first preaching in Sarnath. The architectural remains of Mulangandhakuti, the famous Ashoka
's pillar and Dhamek stupa
are some of the main points of attraction in Sarnath.
is a significant destination of Buddhists for being the place where Lord Buddha departed for his heavenly abode. Kushinagar gained prominence after the excavation of architectural ruins and Buddhist artefacts by Alexander Cunningham
. Nirvana Stupa and temple, Mahaparinirvana
temple, Wai Thai temple, Ramabhar stupa and Japanese temple serve as the main attractions of Kushinagar.
Another frequently visited pilgrim for the followers of Buddhism is Rajgir
. The word Rajgir refers to royal palace. Lord Buddha
had delivered several sermons during his long stay in Rajgir, owing to which Rajgir has gained sanctity among the Buddhists. Location of Rajgir amid five hills and the river Banganaga makes the place a breathtaking beauty.
Indian Holy Cities of Jains
As per Jain mythology, places around Varanasi are related to the birth of four Tirthankars, namely Parshav, Suparshav, Chandraprabhu and Shreas. This makes Varanasi an important pilgrimage and attracts numerous Jain devotees. Digambar and Shwetambar are the two main Jain temples standing adjacent to each other and are dedicated to Lord Parshvanatha
, the 23rd Tirthankar
. The architecture of these temples is a treat to the eyes.
Being the birthplace of Gautamswamiji, the first eminent disciple of Lord Mahavira
is one of the Indian holy places for Jain pilgrims. It is situated in the Nalanda
district of Bihar
. Lord Mahavira
had delivered his preaching in kundalpur a number of times, owing to which the place has emerged as an important pilgrimage. In the picturesque natural beauty of Kundalpur stands an attractive temple with a magnificent idol of Bhagwan Mahaveer's Padmasana. The remains of renowned Nalanda University can be found near Kundalpur
Indian Holy City of Zoroastrians
Situated in Gujarat
is a frequently visited pilgrim for the Zoroastrians of India as well as the world. The famous fire temple of Udvada houses the Atash Behram fire which is the most sacred or victorious fire in Zoroastrianism
. The Atash Behram fire in this temple is the oldest one in the world which was established along with the temple in 1742 ACE.
Since time immemorial, India has sheltered and nurtured diverse religious beliefs. Myths and spirituality have emanated from every nook and corner of India and numerous pilgrimages are the testaments of India's religious legacy. They exhibit the ideology of unity in diversity in truest sense. These Indian Holy Places invite devotees and tourists from all over the world. They are a wonderful portrayal of the grandeur of Indian culture and traditions.