Top pilgrimage Destinations In India

In India there are numerous pilgrimage Destinations which you can see, each more beautiful than the other. Out of those thousands, here we list out the top pilgrimage Destinations to see in case you are on a short trip to India. Even if you are on a long visit, these are the ones which you must not miss out. Read more about them...

1Chidabaram in Tamil Nadu

The town of Chidambaram is situated in 58 km from south of Pondicherry greets the visitors. The town is in the Coleroon River Valley on the Madras-Thanjavur road and rail system.The island of Rameswaram on the Gulf of Mannar is one of the main fishing villages in Tamil Nadu. More importantly, it is a major pilgrimage centre for pious Hindus who worship Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu known respectively as Shaivites and Vaishnavites.Navaligam Temple, ChidambaramMost visitors come to see the impressive Rameswaram Temple, famous the world over for its lengthy and ornate corridors, representing fine architectural masterpieces. Rameswaram also boasts of fabulous beaches edging its coral reef waters abundant with exotic marine life, making it a haven for adventure seekers.The temple town of Chidambaram, with a beautiful temple, dedicated to Lord Nataraja – Lord Shiva in the enthralling form of a Cosmic Dancer. This is one of the few temples, where Shiva and Vishnu are enshrined under one roof. Chidambaram is also called Thillai, since the place was originally a forest of Thillai shrubs. It is one of the five Shaivite mukti sthalams, the other four being Kalahasti, Kanchipuram, Tiruvannamalai and Tiruvanaikaval. A unique feature of Chidambaram is that a person of any race or religion can visit the shrine and pray.

2Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu

Kanchipuram is one of the most sacred Hindu pilgrimage sites in India and the seat of the Shankaracharya. The temple city of Kanchipuram extends from latitude 12° 50′ in the north to longitude 79° 45′ in the east. The city is situated around 70 km from Chennai in the south Indian state of Tamil Nadu.Kanchipuram is known as one of India’s Seven Sacred cities. Kanchipuram was, one of India’s seven sacred cities. Kanchipuram was the historical capital of the Pallavas. It was under the Pallavas from 6th to 8th century A.D and later became the citadel of Cholas, Vijayanagar Kings, the Muslim and the British. It has been a centre of Tamil learning, cultural and religious background for centuries.Kanchipuram the Golden City of a thousand temples, is the capital of the Pallavas, the Cholas and the Rayas of Vijayanagar. During the 6th and 7th centuries, some of the best temples in the city were built by the Pallavas. The city was also a great seat of learning. Sri Sankaracharya, Appar, Siruthonder and the great Budddhist Bhikku lived, and worked here. Today, it is known not only for its temples, but also for its handwoven silk fabrics.

3Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu

Kanyakumari district is bounded by Tirunelveli district in the north and northeast, by Kerala state in the northwest and confluence of Arabian Sea and Indian Ocean in the west and south. The coastline is almost regular except for some points of land projecting into the sea at Cape Comorin. Kanyakumari is the district headquarters of the district of the same name.At the southern most land tip of India, where the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean and the Bay of Bengal meet, lies Kannyakumari, an important pilgrim centre. Kannyakumari is famous for its beach and the spectacular sunrises and sunsets, especially on full moon days. Kanyakumari is also famous for its vast green stretches of paddy fields, rich forests, coconut groves and mineral sands.

4Madurai in Tamil Nadu

Madurai is one of the oldest cities of southern India. It has been a centre of learning and pilgrimage, for centuries. Legend has it, that the divine nectar falling from Lord Shiva’s locks, gave the city its name – Madhurapuri, now known as Madurai.

5Mahabalipuram in Tamil Nadu

The city is situated in 58-Km From Chennai, Tamil Nadu.Globally renown for its shore temples, Mahabalipuram was the second capital of the Pallava kings of Kanchipuram. 58 kilometres from Madras on the Bay of Bengal, this tiny sea – side village of Mahabalipuram, is set in a boulder – strewn landscape. Tourists are drawn to this place by its miles of unspoiled beach and rock-cut art. The sculpture, here, is particularly interesting because it shows scenes of day-to- day life, in contrast with the rest of the state of Tamil Nadu, where the carvings generally depict gods and goddesses.Mahabalipuram art can be divided into four categories : open air bas – relief, structured temples, man-made caves and rathas (‘chariots’ carved from single boulders, to resemble temples or chariots used in temple processions). The famous Arjuna’s Penance and the Krishna Mandapa, adorn massive rocks near the centre of the village. The beautiful Shore Temple towers over the waves, behind a protective breakwater. Sixteen man-made caves in different stages of completion are also seen, scattered through the area.

6Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu

Thanjavur was the royal city of the Cholas, Nayaks and the Mahrattas. Thanjavur derives its name from Tanjan-an asura (giant), who according to local legend devastated the neighbourhood and was killed by Sri Anandavalli Amman and Vishnu, Sri Neelamegapperumal. Tanjan’s last request that the city might be named after him was granted. Thanjavur TempleThanjavur rose to glory during the later Chola reign between the 10th and the 14th Centuries and became a centre of learning and culture. It is the headquarters of the disrict of the same name. Thanjavur district, the ‘ Rice Bowl ‘ of Tamil Nadu, is also known for its exquisite handicrafts, bronzes and South Indian Musical Instruments.

7Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu

Rameshwaram is an island situated in the gulf of manner at the very tip of the Indian peninsula. A very important pilgrim centre of the Indians. Rameshwaram is the place from where Lord Rama, built a bridge across the sea to rescue his consort Sita, from her abductor, Ravana. This is also the place where Rama worshipped Lord Shiva to cleanse away the sin of killing Ravana. Both the Vaishnavites and Shaivites visit this pilgrimage which is known as the Varanasi the south. Rameshwaram is significant for the Hindus as a pilgrimage to Benaras is incomplete without a Pilgrimage to Rameshwaram. The presiding deity is the Linga Of Sri Ranganatha, which happens to be one of the twelve Jyotirlingas of India. Rameshwaram is also popularly referred to as the ‘Benaras of the south’. In order to attain Moksha it is believed that the visit to Rameshwaram is mandatory.

8Sravanabelagola in Karnataka

Sravanabelagola, a great centre for Jain culture is situated at a distance of about 100 kms from Mysore and is famous for its colossal statue of Gomateshwara who is also referred to as Lord Bahubali. Carved out of monolithic stone, the imposing 17 metre high statue of Gomata towers stands in majestic splendour and is visible even from a distance of 20 kms. Starkly simple, the beautifully chiselled features of the statue embody serenity. His perfect lips are turned out at the corners with a hint of a smile, viewing the world with detachment.

9Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh

Tirupati, one of the richest temples in the country, is the most venerated Vaishnavite shrine of Lord Venkateswara. It was patronised by the Pallavas, the Cholas, the Pandyas and the Vijayanagar kings. 130 kms from the city of Madras (Chennai), this temple is located in the southern Chittoor district of Andhra Pradesh. Tiru’ in Tamil means `Sri’. Hence Tirupati translates to Sripati or Sri Maha Vishnu. Tirupati Tirumala Balaji Temple According to the Puranas, the range of Tirumala hills represent the body of the serpent Adisesha, on which Lord Vishnu, the protector of the world, rests. The seven hills represent the seven heads of the serpent.

10Puttaparthi in Andhra Pradesh

Puttaparthi, once a sparsely populated village, has shot into national and international fame as the abode of Bhagwan Sri Satya Sai Baba. The original name of Sai Baba is “Satyanarayana Raju”. He was born on November 23, 1926 in Puttaparthi. Sri Sathya Sai Baba, the most colourful and multifaceted prophet, modern India has produced, is believed to be the very avatar (incarnation) of love and the voice of one’s own innermost heart speaking to each individual externally.

11Dwarka in Gujrat

Dwarka, on the west coast of Gujarat on the shore of the Arabian Sea, features in most of the legends surrounding Lord Krishna. It is from here that the grown Lord Krishna is supposed to have ruled his kingdom. Dwarka is a significant pilgrimage site for the Hindus. Dwarka is sanctified as the place where Lord Vishnu slew the demon Shankhasura. The Puranas mention the 12 Jyotirlingas or columns of light representing Lord Shiva which manifested in different parts of the country. One of these is located in Dwarka and is known as the Nageshwar Mahadev. The Jagat Mandir or Nij Mandir forms the sanctum of the Dwarkadish temple and dates back to 2500 years. Jagat Mandir has its own hall of audience and a conical spire. The roof of the hall is supported by 60 columns and the main temple rises five storeys high. The spire rises to a height of 157 feet and is richly carved. One of the most popular temples in Dwarka is that of Rukmini, Krishna’s wife, considered an incarnation of Goddess Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth and beauty. The Sharad Peetha, one of the four Maths established by Jagatguru Shankaracharya, is also situated here.

12Palitana in Gujarat

Amongst all the Jain temples, Palitana temples are considered to be the most sacred. Located on Shetrunjaya hills there are 863 temples, exquisitely carved in marble. No one is allowed to sleep overnight including the priest, because the temple city has been built as an abode for the Gods. The town is considered by many Jains to be more important than the temple covered hills of Bihar, Gwalior, Mt Abu and Girnar. Palitana was the capital of a princely state of the Gohil Rajput clan. It is also one of the greatest tourist attractions in Gujarat for foreign tourists.

13Shirdi in Maharashtra

Sai Baba, one of the foremost saints of modern India, lived in the small village of Shirdi in the state of Maharashtra for sixty years. Due to his presence there even after his Samadhi, today the small village has transformed itself as a great spiritual center to people from all religions. Shri Sai Baba, inspite of his great spiritual stature, never publicized himself through discoursing, touring and preaching—unlike today’s many ‘so-called’ saints. Rather, he discouraged unnecessary publicity. But still, his spiritual perfection is still drawing innumerable devotees to him from all over the world.

14Ganapatipule in Maharashtra

Set along the western coast of Maharashtra, is a small little village, called Ganapatipule. It is known for its serene beach and the 400-year old Swayambhu Ganapati temple. Ganapatipule offers itself as an ancient pilgrim centre bearing a Swayambhoo, a naturally formed idol of Ganapati. The Temple is at the foot of a hill adjacent to a glorious beach. The hill itself is considered sacred and a perennial spring flows from the hill to a pond besides the Temple.During 16th Century AD, a villager, fed up with frequent quarrels in his village, escaped to the Kerda jungles. On his way there, he stumbled upon a naturally formed Ganapati idol. Seeing this as a good omen, he built a temple there. As the word spread, people gathered and gradually even settled there. They worshiped the idol, performed prayers and made additions to the shrine. The Temple becomes the hub of grand activity for five days celebration of Ganesh Chaturthi. Villager’s and pilgrims join enthusiastically in a procession honoring Ganapati. A taller idol is placed in an ornate palanquin and carried on the shoulders of the devotees through the village. The idol in the sanctum is placed in a way that also makes it visible. Track list of all the important destinations here are Ganapatipule map.

15Bhubaneswar in Orissa

The ancient capital of the Kalinga empire, and now the capital of Orissa, Bhubaneswar’s history goes back over 2000 years. “Bhubaneshwar” means the “abode of God” or “master of the universe” and it was also, once known as the ‘Cathedral of the East’, on account of the large number of shrines. At one time, the Bindu Sagar tank was bordered by over 7000 temples. Of these, 500 still survive, all built in the extravagant Oriya style. It is of these temples, that the great poet, Rabindranath Tagore had once said – ‘At all places where the eye rests, and also at places where the eye does not rest, the busy chisel of the artist has worked incessantly. The abode of god has been enveloped by a variety of figures depicting the good and the evil, the great as well as the insignificant, the daily occurrences of human life….’

16Konarak in Orissa

The temple city of Konark is situated in the eastern state of Orissa at a distance of around 65 km from Bhubaneswar and 35 km from Puri. Konark Sun Temple is located , in the state of Orissa near the sacred city of Puri. The sun Temple of Konark is dedicated to the sun God or Surya. It is a masterpiece of Orissa’s medieval architecture. Sun temple has been declared a world heritage site by UNESCO. Sun Temple, Konarak The Konark temple is widely known not only for its architectural grandeur but also for the intricacy and profusion of sculptural work. The entire temple has been conceived as a chariot of the sun god with 24 wheels, each about 10 feet in diameter, with a set of spokes and elaborate carvings. Seven horses drag the temple. Two lions guard the entrance, crushing elephants. A flight of steps lead to the main entrance. The Nata Mandir in front of the Jagamohana is also intricately carved. Around the base of the temple, and up the walls and roof, are carvings in the erotic style. There are images of animals, foliage, men, warriors on horses and other interesting patterns. There are three images of the Sun God, positioned to catch the rays of the sun at dawn, noon and sunset.

17Puri in Orissa

Puri is the holiest place in Orissa and one of the biggest pilgrimage centres in India situated on the shoreline of the Bay of Bengal. Here, the city’s activities generally revolve around the Jagannath Temple where devotees visit from far and near. The town is divided into two – the old town the main residential area, including the main shops and huge market area. Most nights, the beaches host colorful markets and the city is abuzz with life. Puri is washed by the sea, and embraced by causarina – fringed beaches. It is said that one obtains ‘moksha’ from the cycle of birth and rebirth, if one stays here for three days and nights. Puri is the hallowed seat of Lord Jagannath (Lord of the Universe), Subhadra and Balabhadra. One of the four holy dhams of Hinduism, Puri is possibly one of the very few religious sites which combines the outdoor pleasures of sea and divine beaches with the religious sentiments of ‘darshan’. A place, known by many names over the centuries – Nilgiri, Niladri, Nilachal, Purushottam, Sankhakshetra, Srikshetra, Jagannath Dham, Jagannath Puri – Puri is dominated by two great forces, one created by God, and the other by man.

18Bodhgaya in Bihar

This is where Prince Gautama attained enlightenment under the sacred Asvatta tree (Bodhi tree) and became known as Lord Budha. This is one of the four most sacred pilgrimage places for the Buddhists. The other three important places are his place of birth at Lumbini, Nepal; the site of his first lecture at Sarnath, near Varanasi; and the place where he left his body at Kushinagar, near Gorakhpur. Buddhists from all over the world have built temples here in Bodh Gaya. The Dalai Lama often spends time here. Tibetan pilgrims come here for the winter from Dharamshala. Bodh Gaya is located about 13 km from Gaya, 450 km west of Calcutta, and 90 km south of Patna. Bodh Gaya is a place which should be visited or seen by a person of devotion and which would cause awareness of the nature of impermanence.

19Nalanda in Bihar

Nalanda is a small village and its surrounding area have numerous associations with the Buddha and his disciples. Sailo 3 kilometres south-west of Nalanda is where the Buddha met and converted Maha Kassapa, the man who was later to become his successor. A large statue of Kassapa with an inscription on it was found in the village in the early 1900′s but unfortunately its whereabouts is now unknown. The village of Kul some 1.5 kilometres south-east of Nalanda is the Kolita of old and the birthplace of Moggalana, the second of the Buddha’s two chief disciples. Nalanda itself was often visited by the Buddha during his numerous sojourns through Magadha and he taught several important discourses there.

20Rajgir in Bihar

Rajgir, which means ‘house of the king’, was the ancient capital city of the Magadha kings until the 5th century BC when Ajatsatru moved the capital to Pataliputra. Forty-six km from Bodhgaya, the town is sacred to the memory of the founders of both Buddhism and Jainism and houses historical remains like the cyclopean wall and marks engraved in rocks. Rajgir is an important Buddhist pilgrimage site since the Buddha spent 12 years here, and the first Buddhist council after the Buddha was hosted here at the Saptaparni caves. Lord Buddha often went into retreat at the Jivkamaravana monastery in a beautiful orchard. One of his most devoted and prosperous devotees, surgeon Jivaka also lived here. The rich merchant community here soon became the Buddha’s followers and built many structures of typical Buddhist architecture.Lord Buddha converted the Mauryan king Bimbisara, one of his most celebrated followers, to Buddhism at the Griddhakuta hill, where he delivered many of his sermons as well. The Japanese have built a Stupa on top of the Ratnagiri hill, linked by a rope way. It was here that the teachings of Buddha were penned down for the first time. Rajgir is also an important place of pilgrimage for the Hindus and Jains. Other places to be visited are Bimbisara ka jail, Jarasandha ka akhara, Venuvana, Karand tank, Maniyar math, Swamabhandar cave, Pippala cave, Viswa Shanti Stupa, the famous hot water springs and ruins of an old fort.

21Vaishali in Bihar

Vaishali was one of the Buddha’s favourite resorts and he visited it on several occasions It was here that he had his famous encounter with the prostitute Ambapali, the incident is recounted in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta in The Long Discourses. Another discourse he delivered here is the long but interesting Mahasihanada Sutta from The Middle Length Discourses. According to the Mahayana tradition the famous Vimalakirtinedesa Sutra was preached here too. About a hundred years after the Buddha’s Parinirvana the city was the venue for the Second Council where hundreds of monks from all over northern India met together to sell settle a dispute about Vinaya rules and to chant the suttas together. The main things to see today are the famous lion pillar, the museum, the large Kharauna Lake, the Japanese temple and the stupa built over the Vijjians’ one eighth share of the Buddha’s ashes.

22Allahabad in Uttar Pradesh

Allahabad, sacred city of Hinduism was formerly called ‘Prayag’ in commemoration of a sacrifice done by Lord Brahma. It is best known as host to the mind-boggling number of Kumbh pilgrims who visit this endearing city every 12 years. According to Hindu mythology for the ‘Prakrishta Yagna’ Lord Brahma chose a piece of land on the earth on the confluence of the three rivers – the Ganga, the Yamuna, and the mytical Sarswati. would merge into a confluence. The land being surrounded by these 3 rivers would serve as the prime and central altar and came to be known as ‘Prayag’ today known as Allahabad. Khumb Mela, Allahabad The most sacred spot in Allahabad is Triveni Sangam, the confluence of three of the holiest rivers of the Hindu mythology, the holy Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati. Devout Hindus from all over India come to this sacred pilgrimage point to offer prayers and take a dip in the holy waters. It is believed that a holy dip taken at the Sangam washes away all sins.

23Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh

Ayodhya, a very holy city and is an important pilgrimage site. Lord Rama was born and had many of His pastimes here. It is said to have once had a perimeter of 96 miles and was the capital of Koshala. It is on the banks of the Gogra (Ghaghara or Saryu) River, bathing in which is supposed to destory even the sin of killing a Brahmin.On the right bank of the river Ghagra or Saryu, as it is called within sacred precincts, stands the holy city of Ayodhya, believed to be the birth place of lord Rama, the seventh incarnation of lord Vishnu. Ayodhya during ancient times was known as Kosaldesa. The Atharvaveda describes it as “a city built by gods and being as prosperous as paradise itself”. The illustrious Ikshvaku of the solar clan (suryavamsa) was the ruling dynasty of this region. Ayodhya is pre-eminently a city of temples yet, all the places of worship here, are not only of Hindu religion. At Ayodhya several religions have grown and prospered simultaneously and also at different periods of time in the past. Remnants of Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Islam can still be found in Ayodhya. According to Jain belief, five tirthankaras were born at Ayodhya, including Adinath (Rishabhadeva), the 1st tirthankar.

24Fatehpur Sikri in Uttar Pradesh

The founding of Fatehpur Sikri reads like a fairytale. When all else had failed, the Emperor Akbar came here in search of the renowned Sufi mystic, Sheikh Salim Chishti, to ask the blessing of a son. His prayer was heard, and soon a son was born. In honour of the saint, Akbar named the prince Salim and vowed to found a new city. And so Fateh pur Sikri, a magnificent new city rose on the craggy hills 40 kms from Agra. And for 16 short but memorable years it was the wonder of travellers from all over the world.

25Gangotri in Uttar Pradesh

Be it man’s urge to placate the Gods above or to quench his desire for adventure, Gangotri is an ideal location. Gangotri, the origin of the sacred river Ganges, attracts tourists in large numbers every year. The confrontation with the daunting rivers and attempts to unravel the mysteries of the supernatural world are ubiquitous sights here. Along with the thrill of conquering nature, what one experiences here is the mystical aura that India is so famous for.

26Kushinagar in Uttar Pradesh

Kushinagar, one of the principal centers of Buddhist pilgrimage is the place of Mahaparinrvana. The monument of Kushinagar are situated in three distinct comprising in the main site of the Nirvana Temple houses over 6meter long statue of the reclining Buddha The image was unearthed during the excavations in 1876. An inscription below dates the statue to the 5th century BC Mathakaur shrine is black stone image of Lord Buddha in the Bhumi Sparsha Mudra (a posture showing him touching the earth ) was recovered here.

27Kaushambi in Uttar Pradesh

Kaushambi, in Uttar Pradesh, was visited by Buddha in the 6th and 9th years after his enlightenment. He delivered several sermons here, elevating it to a center of learning for Buddhists. Today one can see the ruins of an Ashokan Pillar, an old fort and the Ghositaram Monastery. The archaeological excavations here have yielded a large number of sculptures and figurines, coins, punch-marked and cast coins and terra-cotta sculptures which show the reverence the city was held in by the devout, in times gone by. All these religious finds of historical and archaeological importance can be viewed at the Allahabad Museum.

28Mathura in Uttar Pradesh

The city of Mathura, in Uttar Pradesh, the nucleus of Brajbhoomi, is located at a distance of 145 km south-east of Delhi and 58 km north-west of Agra. Covering an area of about 3,800 sq. km., today, Brajbhoomi can be divided into two distinct units – the eastern part in the trans-Yamuna tract with places like Gokul, Mahavan, Baldeo, Mat and Bajna and the western side of the Yamuna covering the Mathura region that encompasses Vrindavan, Govardhan, Kusum Sarovar, Barsana and Nandgaon.

29Sarnath in Uttar Pradesh

Situated 10 km from Varanasi is the site where Buddha delivered his first sermon to his five disciples, preaching the middle path for attaining ‘Nirvana’. Realising the sanctity of the site, emperor Ashoka, in the 3rd century B.C. built some of the finest monuments and legacies. Dhamekh Stupa, SarnathSet in well maintained gardens Sarnath’s ruins are a pleasant place to stroll amongst or meditate in. The main things to see are Asoka’s pillar, the ruins of the Mulagandhakuti and the huge Dharmek Stupa. Further to the east is the modern Mulagandhakuti Vihara with its beautiful wall paintings and behind it the Deer Park. The Sarnath Museum houses some of the greatest treasures of Indian Buddhist art and should not be missed. Asoka’s lion capital and the beautiful Teaching Buddha are amongst the most beautiful sculptures ever made.

30Shravasti in Uttar Pradesh

Shravasti or Saheth Maheth, about 17 kilometers from Balrumpur was the capital of Kosala, was said to have derived its name from the fact that everything was available there . It was indeed one of the wealthiest and most vibrant cities in the Middle Land. The Buddha visited Savatthi several times before finally making it his headquarters in the twentieth year of his enlightenment. From then on, he spent every rains retreat except his last in the environs of the city.

31Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh

The venerable and ancient city Varanasi is the religious centre of the world for Hindus. A magnificent city, with myriad attractions, both as an exalted place of pilgrimage and a microcosmic centre of faith. Thousands of pilgrims visit the city from all parts of India and from across the world. A unique city where the past and present, eternity and continuity live side by side. The city rises from the high northern bank on the outside curve of Ganga, the holiest of all Indian rivers, to form a magnificent panorama of buildings in many varieties of Indian architecture. The unique relationship between the sacred river and the city is the essence of Varanasi – the land of sacred light. The Ganga is believed to have flown from the heaven to wash away the worldly sins of the humankind. Thus, to be in Varanasi is an out of this world experience, and experience of self discovery, a journey throughthe present and the past in search of immortality.

32Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh

Vrindavan, around 15 km from Mathura, is a major place of pilgrimage, on the banks of Yamuna . Attracting about 5 lakhs pilgrims every year, it is noted for its numerous temples- both old and modern. Vrindavan is synonymous with the innocent mirth and child like playfulness of Shri Krishna. Vrindavan, the dusty little town known for the temples, big and small, famous and remote strewn all over the place.

33Badrinath in Uttarakhand

Badrinath is considered the holiest of the four important shrines in Garhwal. The town is at an altitude of 3,133 m. above sea level, situated on the left bank of river Alaknanda and exactly between the two mountains Nara and Narayan. The shrine is dedicated to Vishnu, the preserver and falls in the religious itinerary of every devout Hindu. The present temple was built about two centuries ago by Garhwal Kings. It is a conical structure, 15 m. tall and has small cupola of a gilt bull and spire. There are 15 idols in the temple complex, each sculpted in black stone.

34Yamnotri in Uttarakhand

The Garhwal Himalayas have been blessed with some of the holiest Hindu pilgrimage sites and Yamunotri is one such. One of the Char Dhams according to Hindu mythology, Yamunotri is the origin of the sacred river Yamuna. Famous for its thermal springs and glaciers, it is one of the most important stopovers on the itinerary of the Hindu pilgrim. According to an old legend, Asit Muni, the revered sage, used to reside here.

35Kedarnath in Uttarakhand

Kedarnath is a majestic sight, standing in the middle of a wide plateau surrounded by lofty snow covered peaks. The present temple, built in the 8th century by Adi Shankaracharya, stands adjacent to the site of an earlier temple built by the Pandavas. The inner walls of the assembly hall are decorated with figures of various deities and scenes from mythology. Outside the temple door a large statue of the Nandi Bull stands as guard.

36Haridwar in Uttarakhand

Haridwar is considered as the gateway to the four pilgrimages in the Uttrakhand region, The Ganga leaves the mountains and enters the plains with Hardwar being the first major town on the plains. Though the Ganges does not lose its rapids completely nevertheless it becomes very quite and calm here. The water is clean and people prefer taking bath on the numerous ghats built on the river shores. It is said that taking bath here purifies the soul and opens the way for the ultimate freedom, Nirvana.

37Rishikesh in Uttarakhand

Rishikesh is located in the northern part of Uttar Pradesh. It is 238 km northeast of Delhi and 24 km north of Haridwar and spreads on the right banks of the Ganges, at its confluence with the Chandrabhaga stream. It is surrounded by hills on three sides and is perched at an altitude of 356 meters above sea level. The name Rishikesh is loosely applied to an association of five distinct sections encompassing not only the town but also hamlets and settlements on both sides of the river. These include Rishikesh itself, the commercial and communication hub; the sprawling suburban Muni-ki-Reti or the “sands of the sages”; Shivananda Nagar, north of Rishikesh; the temple section of Lakshmanjhula, a little further north; and the assorted ashrams around Swarg Ashram on the east bank. In Rishikesh, the winters last from November to March, when temperatures fall below 0°C. The monsoons are generally experienced in the months of July and August.

38Manikaran in Himachal Pradesh

Perched on the right bank of the roaring Parvati River, Manikaran is situated at an altitude of 1760 m and is located at a distance of about 45 kms, from Kullu, via Bhuntar, in Kullu District of Himachal Pradesh. Manikaran, a place of pilgrimage for Hindus and Sikhs, has many temples and a gurudwara. It epitomize historic temples of Lord Rama, Krishna, Vishnu (Raghunath) and goddess Bhagwati. Ram Temple was built in pyramidal style by Raja Jagat Singh in the 17th century when the idol of Lord Rama was brought from Ayodhya. The idol was later shifted to Kullu. The temple was renovated by Raja Dilip Singh in 1889 AD. A trust is looking after the temple since 1981. The temple complex has three halls and forty rooms for the devotees to stay. A ‘Lungar’ (free communal food) is also served here.

39Khajuraho in Madhya Pradesh

Once a great chandela capital, Khajuraho TempleKhajuraho is now a quiet village. The town of exotic temples, Khajuraho is one of India’s major honeymoon attractions. They are India’s unique gift to the world, representing a melody to life,which encompasses all emotions ranging from love, to joy. Life, in every form and mood, has been captured in stone, testifying not only to the craftsman’s artistry but also to the extraordinary breadth of vision of the Chandela kings.

40Omkareshwar in Madhya Pradesh

Situated on the banks of the Narmada, Omkareshwar is one of the 12 revered Jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva. It is located at a distance of about 12 miles from Mortakka in Madhya Pradesh. The river Narmada spits into two and forms an island Mandhata or Shivapuri in the center. The shape of the island resembles that of the visual representation of the Omkara sound, Om.

41Pushkar in Rajasthan

Pushkar is a small, mellow town with no vehicle traffic on the main street. There are over 400 temples in Pushkar. Some of the important temples are dedicated to Brahma, Raghunath, Varaha, Savitri ,and Gayatri. It is famous for the Camel Fair, which takes place here in Oct/Nov. Alcohol and meat are supposed to be banned here. Pushkar is on the edge of the Rajasthan desert, ten km northwest of Ajmer, 400 km southwest of Ajmer, 400 km southwest of Delhi, and 145 km southwest of Jaipur.

42Ranakpur in Rajasthan

Ranakpur in the state of Rajasthan is one of the five most important pilgrimage sites of Jainism. It is home to an exceptionally beautiful temple complex in the Aravali ranges and a must visit for the tourists coming to this region.

43Amarnath in Kashmir

Amarnath is 145 km east of Srinagar in Kashmir. There is an ice Silva-linga here that changes size with the seasons, and also as the moon waxes and wanes it becomes bigger and smaller. On the full moon day the linga is about 6 ft high. Each year on the full moon day of July-August (Sravana) when the Siva-linga attains its maximum height there is a festival at this cave temple. It is said that Lord Siva first appeared on this day. Amarnath Cave Temple It is located in a glacial valley at 4,175m (13,700 ft.). The cave is about 150 feet high and 90 feet long. Within the cave there are four or five ice formations that resemble the figures of different gods. The biggest figures of different gods. The biggest figure is regarded as Siva (Amarnath). On the left side of the linga is an ice formation called Ganesh, and on the right side is one of Parvati and Bhairava.

More great destinations can be found in the Explore India page.

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