India is a secular country and this is very well evident through the communal harmony that exists here. India is a banquet of numerous religions under the same roof. It is a unique land, where one will get to witness the believer of various religions living together without any chaos. It is said that India is certainly a land of spiritualism. From time immemorial, countless ancient sages and saints have blessed this country and made it a holy land. In this land of unity in diversity, one will come across numerous holy shrines of Hindus, mosques or dargahs of Muslims, gurudwaras of Sikhs, churches of Christians and monasteries of Buddhist etc. which are throng with the devotees throughout the year. Apart from these, there are several huge rivers and lakes that are also considered as pious. Devotees yearn to take a dip in the water of these lakes and rivers to wash away all their sins.
India is the most preferred destination for Hindu Pilgrimage tour. Many pilgrim tourists from all over the world herd into the country finding destinations in the various places of worship in India. The land fascinates every tourist with every single pilgrim site offering a blessed destination for each one of them.
A land of untraveled mysteries, a land which inculcates the ardent faith in you that's all India is all about. As you explore the various pilgrimages in India you will feel an essence of rejuvenation in your mind. From its intricately carved temples to the various holy Ghats you will discover that India is just the desired pilgrims spot you have always looked forward to for a religious tour.
India is a holy land inhabited by people of various faith and religions or in other words it is a country with unity in diversity. The country associates itself with an affluent historical as well as religious backdrop of Hinduism and other religions. There are a variety of pilgrimages sites in every nook and corner of the country. However the North India pilgrimage sites are more popular and frequently visited by worldwide pilgrim tourists.
North India Pilgrimages are a blessed destination for every tourist. As you explore the various pilgrimages in North India you will find destinations in various holy sites which include Haridwar, Char Dham, Amarnath, Vaishno Devi, Rishikesh, Varanasi, Mathura, Vrindavan etc. Every pilgrim site has its own charms associating itself with various myths and beliefs. Rummage around in the various holy sites seeking the solace you have always dreamt of.
The journey of a lifetime which will bring about renaissance to your wandering soul. A pilgrim tour in India is not only an escapade from the humdrums of a hectic routine life but also a path to peace and happiness. As you explore the various holy sites you will find relief from all your mortal worries and pains.
Varanasi Popularly known as “Gateway to Salvation (moksha)”, Varanasi is one of the ancient living cities of world. Lies at the bank of river Ganges, the most sacred river of India, Varanasi is famed for its numerous pious shrines and ghats. Due to this, Varanasi is also known as “City of temples and City of ghats”. Some of the popular temples of Varanasi are Sankat Mochan temple, Vishwanath temple, Durga temple, Tulsi Manas temple etc. Varanasi is the sole city of world where both death and life come together. People from all over come here in the belief that if death comes to them in this city then the doorway to the heavens awaits them.
It is the ultimate achievement of ‘moksha’. ‘Moksha’ or ‘Nirvana’ as it is also popularly known means freedom from the perpetual cycle of birth and death and again rebirth. The pilgrims offer their morning prayers to the rising sun on the innumerable ghats of this holy city. These sacred ghats also serves as the spot to pay tribute to the departed souls. Throughout the year, devotees throng these pious Ganges ghats to have a dip in the holy Ganges to be cleansed from all sins. Some famous ghats of Varanasi are Dasaswamedh Ghat, Manikarnika Ghat, Harischandra Ghat, Kabir Ghat and Assi Ghat etc. All of these contribute to make Varanasi one of the most sought after pilgrimage destinations of Hindu religion in India.
All the major religions of the world have followers in India. India is also the birthplace of Buddhism - a set of teachings of Gautama Buddha. Buddhist pilgrimage sites are the places where Gautama Buddha had lived and taught. These sites are now significant places of worship for both Buddhists and Hindus. Devotees from all around the world visit these pious places which are connected to the life of their mentor- Gautama Buddha.
The four main Buddhist Indian Pilgrimages are Lumbini, the birth place of Gautama Buddha; Bodh Gaya, the place of his enlightenment, Sarnath, the place where he delivered his first teaching and Kusinara the place of his death. Situated in Rupandehi District Lumbini, perched near the Indian border is the place where Queen Mayadevi gave birth to her prince son Siddhartha Gautama who later became the founder of Buddhism. The holy city of Lumbini has several Buddhist temples, monasteries, other ruins of the city of Gautama Buddha's birth and is also designated as UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Bodh Gaya one of the most sought after Buddhist Pilgrimages in India is situated in Gaya district of Bihar. The place is famous for being the place of the most important event of Buddha's life that of his attaining of Enlightenment.
This place witnesses large numbers of devotees every year. Sarnath is the famous deer park where according to the legend Gautama Buddha first delivered his teachings of 'Dharma'(Religion). Situated 13 kilometers north- east of Varanasi it is one of the most famous places of worship in India.
Kushinara or Kushinagar, a town situated in Uttar Pradesh is also one of the most significant Buddhist Pilgrimage Sites as it is the place of death of Gautama Buddha. Gautama Buddha attained Nirvana or Salvation at the shores of Hiranyavati River at Kushinagar. Apart from these four other famous Buddhist Pilgrimage Sites include Rumtek Monastery near the capital of Gangtok, Dharamsals in Himachal Pradesh, Sanchi in Madhya Pradesh and Ajanta Caves in Maharashtra. These sites hold various monasteries and temples that give valid accounts of the life and teachings of Gautama Buddha.
Sanchi Stupa are located at a distance of 68 km north of Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh. These stupas were created by the great Emperor Ashoka, during 3rd century BCE and 12th century A.D. More than 50 magnificent Buddhist monuments are perched here. The hilltop of Sanchi is one of the famous UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These stupas are the most important characteristic monuments of Buddhist in India. Buddhists love to visit this place as one of their sacred place.
Sikhism emerged during the early 16th century in the state of Punjab in North India. Guru Nanak the founder of Sikh religion mentored nine successive gurus in fifteenth century Northern India. The principal belief of Sikhism is faith in the Universal God. Guru Nanak preached the message of unity of both Hindu and Islam religions.
Main Sikh Pilgrimage includes Anandpur Sahib, Golden Temple, Hemkund Sahib and Takht Sri Damdama Sahib. North India Pilgrimage Sites are the hubs of thousands of devotees, who visit these sites wishing for God's blessings and asking for forgiveness.
Sikhism propounds a distinct element of Indian religious tradition and culture. These famous Sikh places of worship in India are the holy shrines which propagates brotherhood amidst the people. Located on the lower Himalayas Anand pur Sahib is beautiful, surrounded with River Satluj and natural abundance. Anandpur Sahib is known as 'the holy City of Bliss' and is considered very sacred for Sikh. Sikhism preaches the message of devotion; truthful living and remembrance of God. The Golden Temple is the most magnificent Sikh pilgrimage. It is located in the holy city of Sikhs- Amritsar which was once a dense forest home of Guru Nanak. The temple is famous for its golden dome and is built on a 67 ft square of marble. It is believed that Guru Ram Das- the fourth mentor of Sikhism excavated a tank here which was named as Amritsar meaning Pool of the Nectar of Immortality and hence the temple is the supreme centre of Sikhism.
Other important Sikh Pilgrimages in India include Hemkund Sahib and Takht Sri Damdama Sahib. Hemkund meaning Lake of Gold is perched on the beautiful spots of the central Himalayas and is naturally embellished with a beauteous lake surrounding the temple. The place is believed to be the abode of the 10th Guru of Sikh- Guru Govind Singh. Takht Sri Damdama Sahib is one of the five Takhts or Seat of Temporal Authority of Sikhism which is situated at Bathinda in Punjab.
Golden temple or Swarna mandir at Amritsar in Punjab is the most important pilgrimage destination of Sikh religion. Sikhs from far and wide make it a point to visit this holy place at least for once in their lifetime. Golden temple is also known as Darbar sahib. Sri Guru Granth Sahib ji, the holiest literature in the Sikh religion, is place inside this gurudwara. Darbar Sahib has four doors to show that every religion or faith is welcomed to go in to meditate or just listen to the prayers for peace.
Christianity has had long and glorious relations with India. According to the legends, St. Thomas sailed to India from Eastern Asia in AD 52. He spent 12 years in India, the last eight of his life in Mylapore in Chennai. Several shrines have been created in the places associated with him. The advent of Europeans in India from the 15th century onwards led to a rise in the number of Christians and subsequent development of Christian worship places. Some of the churches of colonial India are comparable to the best in the world and are as much a part of the heritage of India as its ancient temples. You must visit these churches and explore the fascinating world of Christianity in India.
People go on pilgrimage for different reasons - some seeking God’s forgiveness for the wrongs they have done (penance) and some because they are ill and want God to heal them. Over the years, places have become special for different reasons, and devotees decide to visit them to become closer to God in these special places.
The church of Bom Jesus, "Good" or "Infant" Jesus, is known principally for the tomb of St. Francis Xavier. In 1946, it became the first church of India to be elevated to the status of Minor Basilica. One of the richest churches in Goa, it is covered with marble and inlaid with precious stones and paintings depicting the life of St. Francis Xavier. The basilica, where the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier are kept, is the best specimen of baroque architecture in India. St. Francis's body was brought to Goa almost 150 years after his death. It was a gifted by Medici, Cosimo III, the Grand Duke of Tuscany. It now lies in an airtight glass coffin, placed inside a silver casket fashioned by a 17th century Florentine jeweller. The chapel attracts large numbers of visitors every year.
The Church of St. Cajetan is modelled on the original design of St. Peter's Church in Rome.
The Church of Bom Jesus with its facade decorated with Ionic, Doric and Corinthian pilasters, shows the application of the Classical order. The Se' Cathedral, with its Tuscan exterior, the Corinthian columns at its portals, the raised platform with steps leading to the entrance, the barrel-vault above the nave, is yet another example of Renaissance.
The church paintings were done on wooden borders and fixed between panels having floral designs as in the chapels housing the tomb of St. Xavier, the arches above the altars in the transept of the Se' Cathedral and in the nave on either side of the main altar in the Church of St. Francis of Assisi. The statues are mostly in wood delicately carved and painted to adorn the altars except a few which are in stone. They depict mostly the saints, Mother Mary and Jesus on the cross.
The most prominent building on the famous Mall of Shimla is the yellow Christ Church. It is also reputed to be the second oldest church in northern India. It is famous for its lovely stained glass windows.
This church is the former palace of the Archbishop that connects the Se Cathedral to the Convent and Church of St. Francis of Assisi. The exterior of the Church is of the Tuscan order while the main entrance is in Manuline style.
To the west of the Se Cathedral is the former palace of the Archbishop that connects the Se Cathedral to the Convent and Church of St. Francis of Assisi. It is constructed with laterite blocks and is lime-plastered. The church faces west and has a nave with three chapels on either side, a choir, two altars in the transept and a main altar. To the north of the main altar is a belfry and a sacristy. The convent, which forms an annexure to the church, now houses the Archaeological Museum.
Church of the Sacred Heart, Delhi Further north, at the south end of Bhai Vir Singh Marg, is one of Medd's more ambitious projects, the Roman Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart.
This Church displays a strong Italianate influence, with a facade of white pillars supporting a canopy set against a dark brick background, and circular arcades turrets rising above the roof to each side of the entrance porch. The lofty interior has a towering curved roof, polished stone floors and broad arches set into smooth walls, presenting a very grand look.
The Santa Cruz Basilica is another historic church that was built by the Portuguese. The church was elevated to a cathedral by Pope Paul IV in 1558 AD.
In 1795 AD, it fell into the hands of the British who demolished it when they took over Cochin.
About a hundred years later, Bishop Dom Gomez Ferreira commissioned a new building at the same site in 1887 AD. The church was proclaimed a Basilica in 1984 by Pope John Paul II.
Cathedral Church of St. Thomas, Mumbai St. Thomas' Cathedral, the city's first Anglican Church is situated in the heart of the commercial fort area, in Mumbai. The foundation was laid in 1672 during the governorship of Gerald Aungier. It was opened to public on the Christmas Day in 1718, and subject to a number of later additions. Though simple in structure, the interior of the Church has some exquisite art adoration. A marble plaque at the front entrance reads: "Let all who enter this church remember Richard Cobbe, chaplain to the Honorable East India Company 1715 to 1719, this church had risen to 15 feet when the building ceased and the site lay desolate for 33 years. It was consecrated in 1816 and became a cathedral in 1837.
Little Mount, Chennai (Madras) Little Mount in Saidapet is where St. Thomas lived and preached. It is not much of a hill but high enough for the churches on it to be noticed form a distance. The new church, consecrated in 1971 attracts attention by unusual circular shape.
However, it is the old church next door, built in 1711 as extension to shrine which the Portuguese had built in 1511,that is thronged by pilgrims. It is not impressive from the outside, but its minuscule interior has an atmosphere not found in many churches. This Chapel of the Blessed Sacrament is built against and above the rock cave that was St. Thomas' home.