(Last Updated on : 24/12/2009)
India is a multi cultural and multi religious nation and so the pilgrimage sites in India encompasses everything from mosques, temples, gurudwara, cathedrals and Jain shrines.
India celebrates "Unity in Diversity" in all aspects of life, be it religion, society, culture, education, economy and so on. Its awesome air of spirituality is marked by the multiplicity of gods and diverse religious beliefs, generating numerous strands, all wrought together into a knot of sameness in fundamental concepts. Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism have respective distinctness, and yet they share a commonness of principles that communicate the basic purpose of religion. Every religion has its own places of worship spread over the land. The confluence of religions adds variety to the kind of pilgrimage-spots, which attract pilgrims from all around the world.
In the north India there are several pilgrimage sites which are flooded with pilgrims all throughout the year. The majestic peaks of the mighty Himalayas are invested with a heritage of holiness. The Himalayas serve as the exotic abode of the popular "Chardham" or four pilgrimage centers of Hinduism namely Gangotri, Yamunotri temple
, Kedarnath and Badrinath. Haridwar is also an important Hindu pilgrimage site. The Kumbha mela
of Haridwar is the largest religious fair in the country. Rishikesh, situated in the northern part of Uttarakhand, is known as the Tapo Bhumi or Place of Meditation. Lord Vishnu
is said to have demolished the demon, Madhu, here in Rishikesh
. The shrine of Vaishno Devi in Jammu and Kashmir
is one of the most notable Hindu pilgrimage centers in north India. The shrine consists of one of the holy body remnants of the Female Creative Power of the Universe, called Shakti by the ancient Vedic scriptures. The shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi is located in a cave and has images of three deities the Mahakali, Mahalakshmi and Mahasaraswati. Ladakh
is a home to some of the splendid monasteries of the world. Pilgrims in large numbers visit these monasteries to attain spiritual enlightenment. The well known monasteries are Lamayuru monastery
, and Alchi monastery among others.
The majority of population in Punjab
. The most sacred shrine of the Sikhs is the Golden temple of Amritsar
. Devotees from all sects of life irrespective of their cast and creed come here to pay reverence to the temple. Various other gurudwaras are scattered throughout the state of Punjab. Religious centers for the Muslims area also present in the state of Punjab such as, Mazaar, Pir Baba Haji Rattan in Bathinda City. Other Muslim religious places in Punjab include Moorish Mosque, Kapurthala City, Imam Nasir Mausoleum and Jama Masjid in Jalandhar City and Chilla Baba Seikh Farid in Faridkot City which are flocked by Muslim pilgrims all throughout the year. In Haryana, there are pilgrimage centers for both Hindus and the Sikhs. Mathura, in Uttar Pradesh, is the birth-place of Lord Krishna
, a history which gives a sacred character to the pilgrimage of Mathura. Vrindavan and Varanasi are also holy Hindu pilgrimage sites. Sarnath
, Kaushambi and Sravasti
in the state of Uttar Pradesh are pious destinations for the Buddhist pilgrims. Delhi in north India has a wide array of Muslim pilgrimage sites. The Jama Masjid and the Dargah of Sufi Saint Nizamuddin Aulia are among the Muslim religious places of Delhi.
in central India houses several temples and mosques which are visited by thousands of devotees every year. Ujjain
is chiefly known for the outstanding temples devoted to the various Hindu deities and Bhopal
houses quite a few impressive mosques. Sanchi in Madhya Pradesh is a religious site for the Buddhist pilgrims. Religious places in east India are among the most visited pilgrimage centers. Kolkata in West Bengal
has the famous Dakshineswar temple and the Belur Math
which are renowned religious tourist centers all over India. There are also some famous cathedrals in Kolkata
houses mainly Hindu temples like sun temple in Konark and Jagannath temple in Puri. The Lingaraja Temple, built in the 11th Century, projects a half Shiva and a half Vishnu Linga, called the Hari-Hara Linga. This presiding deity is the Tribhubaneshwara, meaning the Lord of the Three Worlds. Other major attractions are the Muktesvara Temple, the Parsurameshwara Temple, Raj Rani Temple, the Brahmeshwara Temple and the Iskcon Temple. The Kamakhya temple in Guwahati in Assam is also a much visited religious center. Bodhgaya
in Bihar has an eternal appeal to spirituality. It is the under the worshipped Bodhi Tree, where the hermit Gautama attained the Ultimate Truth and was spiritually reborn as Lord Buddha
, with the Enlightened Soul. The Mahabodhi Temple located in this particular site is of prime religious eminence, not only for the Buddhists, but also for the Hindus, who worship him as the ninth incarnation of Lord Vishnu
The Ajanta Ellora caves in Maharashtra
in West India are a holy place for the Buddhist pilgrims. The state of Goa
has numerous cathedrals which are of great religious significance. The famous Se cathedral is a revered religious center for the Christians. Some of the famous places of worship in Rajasthan
are Shrinathji Temple, Nathdwara; Jain Temple, Ranakpur; Brahma Temple, Pushkar; Dilwara Temple
, Mount Abu; Rishabdevji Temple, Dhulev; Eklingji Temple
; Shri Mahavirji Temple, Dargah Sharif, Ajmer. The Dargah Sharif is the revered place where Muslim saint Khajwa Moinudin Chishti lays buried, and attracts pilgrims and devotees from all parts of the Islamic world. Gujarat in west India is mainly noted for its temples such as the Somnath temple which draws millions of devotees.
Climbing down to south of India, the temple of Tirupati Balaji is on the southern banks of Swami Pushkarani, in Tirupati of Andhra Pradesh
. The presiding God is Lord Venkateshwara. Kanchipuram is regarded, as one of the Seven Sacred Cities of India .It was the historical capital of the Pallavas, the Cholas and the Rayas of Vijaynagar. Mahabalipuram, globally recognised for its shore temples was the second capital of the Pallava kings of Kanchipuram. In the Shore Temple, built on a rocky outcrop, both Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu are enshrined under one roof. Of the eight Rathas, five are named after the Pandavas, the mighty heroes of the epic, Mahabharata
, and even their wife, Draupadi. The Rameshwaram Temple, at the island of Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu, is perched on the Gulf of Mannar. The worshipped deity is the Linga of Sri Ranganatha, a manifestation of Lord Shiva, and one of the Twelve Jyotirlingas of India. Kerala
in south India reflects the traits of secular India. The churches in Kerala are St. Mary`s Cathedral, St. George`s Cathedral, Marth Mariam Church etc. among others and are popular among the Christian devotees. Few mosques in Kerala are Cheraman Juma Masjid, Madayi Mosque, Kanjiramattom Mosque and Pazhayangadi Mosque which are much visited Muslim religious centers. The religious places in Kerala like the holy Thirunavaya Temple and Mangala Devi Temple are visited by a number of Hindu devotees.