The land of India is filled with religious places that are sought after by people with religious sentiments. Some of these are located in tough terrains but have visitors growing in number every year. The following article consists of a description of five such pilgrimage sites in India that are visited by pilgrims to fulfill their spiritual needs and attain salvation.
India is a country rich in culture and religious traditions. Most Indian people have religious beliefs and sentiments. Apart from following religious guidelines, they also make pilgrimage visits every year. Here are the top 5 pilgrimage sites that Indians visit every year.
Sacred Pilgrimage Sites of India
01. The Chardham (Uttarakhand)
The Chardham literally translates the four small abodes or seats. It is one of the major Hindu pilgrimage circuits in the Himalayan region (India). The Garhwal area in Uttarakhand houses this circuit which includes the four sites- Gangotri, Yamunotri, Badrinath and Kedarnath. The pilgrims generally have to hike to reach these four sites. The roads get rougher and dangerous as one climbs higher. The pilgrims need to get themselves ready physically before plunging into this entourage. However, many travel agencies provide lucrative packages to help ease the journey with facilities for the pilgrims. One can avail road, rail or air transport to reach up to a certain point from where the hiking starts. However, one needs to carry first-aid kit and other necessities for safety reasons.
02. Amarnath Dham
The Amarnath Cave in Jammu and Kashmir is a prime pilgrimage site for the Hindus. Devotees come to worship Lord Shiva here. It lies 12,756 feet high and its distance from Srinagar is 141 km. One can reach this place starting from Srinagar and traveling via Pahalgam. The shrine is among the holiest ones in the country despite the difficulty in scaling this mountain cave, which lies snow-covered, almost all-year round. Pilgrims start with ‘Pratham Pooja’ to reach this cave protecting a naturally formed ice-stalagmite called the Shiv Ling. People rush to receive blessings from this Shiv Ling and start their journey with Shri Amarnathji blessings. Pilgrims mostly resort to various Tour Packages for the Amarnath Yatra.
The Sai Baba Temple in Shirdi is another holy shrine that attracts devotees in millions every year. This Mandir (temple) lies 90 km away from Nashik, a prominent city in Maharashtra. One can hire taxi or from Nashik to reach this temple in Shirdi. One can also take a bus (or taxi) from Manmad, the nearest railway station, to reach this small town. One goes to worship Sai Baba in the Shirdi Temple, a saint of the early 1900s. People of all colour, creed and religions can visit this holy shrine. The most important shrine is the Samadhi temple. It is here that the Sai Baba’s mortal body lies. Next to the Samadhi is the Sai Baba’s marble image in a seated position. Sri Talini, a famous sculptor from Mumbai, has carved out this image. Tour agencies also offer interesting packages for this shrine so that devotees can reach this place with comfort and ease.
Tirupati, in Andhra Pradesh (southern part), houses the famous Sri Venkateswara Temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Devotees take the pain to seek the blessings of this deity from all corners of the country. The temple lies on the seventh peak called Venkatachala of Tirumala, a mountain range of the Eastern Ghats. The Lord Vishnu is also worshiped as Govinda in South India and Balaji in the northern part of the country. The foothills of the temple have a town and devotees take shelter in this town before climbing up to the temple for spiritual fulfillment. One can reach Tirupati via rail, road and even airways (up to Hyderabad) with packages available at cost-effective rates.
Puri is a prime place for pilgrims visiting the State of Odisha. It lies on the Bay of Bengal, 60 km away from Bhubaneswar, the state capital. The place is also called Jagannath Puri, named after the Jagannath Temple, the reason for which devotees flock in Puri. This 11th-century temple dedicates to Lord Jagannath, a famous deity among the Hindus. The Hindu teachings profess that no pilgrimage completes without visiting the Jagannath temple in Puri. The best time of the year to visit this popular pilgrimage site is during the Rath-Yatra when the deity travels on a chariot for all the devotees to seek his blessings. Puri Travel Packages help one to conveniently travel and lodge so that the pilgrim can get his spiritual needs.
Apart from these five pilgrimage sites, there are other less important ones too. However, to a Hindu, these shrines hold utmost importance for spiritual guidance.