Top 10 Religious Spots to Visit in India
Religious places are often situated in strange (sometimes dangerous) locations and the customs and rituals carried out can enthrall any curious wanderer
India is a cradle of world’s religions- Hinduism and Sikhism originated in the green hills of northern India and now the followers of these religions are spread all around the world. Buddhism originated in Nepal, a short distance from India and flourished in middle and eastern India and spread to many south-Asian nations by the efforts of Indian Emperor Ashoka. Courtesy of a rich spiritual history and traditionally housing an enormous population of polythiests- India has thousands of religious places where different Gods can be revered. “Religion is like a pair of shoes…..Find one that fits for you, but don’t make me wear your shoes.” ― George Carlin
If spirituality doesn’t excite you, these religious places are situated in strange (sometimes dangerous) locations and the customs and rituals carried out here can enthrall any curious wanderer. There are countless spots and new are discovered everyday by clueless travellers. In India the general respect for anything spiritual has resulted in temples and churches springing up in almost every street. So here is a very short list of the Top 20 most interesting religious spots in India:
1. Golden Temple- Amritsar:
Located in Punjab, this is a world-reknowed Holy Shrine of Sikhs all over the world. The temple situated in the middle of a lake offers a silent sanctity to Sikhs and tourists alike. Many celebrities and Indian politicians have wiped shoes and cleaned plates of devotees who come to the temple as a ‘service’ to God. A visit to this breath-taking templ will leave you feeling humble and spell-bound.
2. Amarnath Dham-Srinagar:
Open only for the holy Hindu month of ‘Shravan’, an ice stalagmite which resembles Lord Shiva’s symbol ‘Lingam’ is formed naturally in a cave situated at a height of 12756 feet above sea level. Even in freezing temperatures, devotees of Lord Shiva from around the country flock to this inexplicable phenomenon.
3. Vaishnodevi Temple- Jammu Kashmir:
Considered as the holiest residence of Goddess Durga, Vaishnodevi Temple is situated at a height of 5300 feet above sea level. A staggering series of steps will lead you to a small opening where three stone small stone structure adorned with softest fabrics, decorated with expensive jewellery and a breath-taking view of the mountains will greet you.
4. Mansarovar- Jammu Kashmir:
Mansarovar Lake situated on the mountain Kailash, one of the highest peaks in the Himalayas is considered to be the abode of Lord Shiva. Legend says that Lord Shiva resides here in meditation wearing a tiger-skin skirt and carrying a ‘Trishul’.
5. Tirupati Temple- Tirumala:
Lovingly called as ‘Balaji’, Tirupathi is the most popular religious destination around the world and also the richest in India. Millions around the world, men and women alike gather here to worship Lord Vishnu and cut their hair as a sacrifice.
6. Siddhivinayak Temple-
Mumbai: This temple is the heart and soul of India’s financial capital, constantly under high security due to numerous terorrist threats, Siddhivinayak is still crowded with thousands of worshipers gathering to praise Lord Ganesh and chant ‘Ganpati Bappa Morya’.
7. Sree Ayyapa- Sabarimala:
This temple dedicated to Hindu Lord Ayappa and hosts the largest annual pilgrimage in the entire world. Thousands of devotees give up onion, shaving and wearing shoes in order to be qualified for this prestigeous pilgrimage.
8. Kashi Vishwanath: Varanasi-
Every Hindu is expected to go atleast once in his life to the sacred city of Kashi (now known as Varanasi or Benaras) where hundred of temples dedicated to various Hindu Gods are located a step from each other. Holiest of them all is the Kashi Vishwanath Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. Come for the Kumbh Mela (held once in 12 years) and witness a marvellous procession of endless and elaborate rituals in temples and hermits covered in safron and ash.
9. Moiuddin Chisti-Ajmer:
A mosque dedicated to Khwaja Moiuddin Chisti, the most popular sufi saint from the Indian subcontinent, this spot is frequented by a lot of Bollywood celebrities seeking blessings. Threads tied around one’s wrist as bands from Ajmer are are said to ward off negativity and protect the wearer.
10. Dharamsala- Hinachal Pradesh:
The sanctuary of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, he was offered this residence by India’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru when he was only a teenager and the Chinese Government captured Tibet. Since then the city has turned into a paradise with generous monks walking around, chants constantly recited and an atmosphere of peace and solance. Bowing at the Almighty’s feet with a head filled with gratitude and a heart full of hope comes naturally to Indians. There is nothing quite as calming as surendering the world’s desires at the entrance of the Almighty’s house and losing oneself in a spiritual trance. Praying to a God, any God makes us realize that we are only a miniscule part of a marvellous universe but we are at the centre of a constantly-expanding design. We might be small but we are not insignificant. We have the privilege of witnessing magical things unfolding before our eyes and it makes us realize that we are no less a miracle ourselves.