Rohit shares his insider tips on the best destinations in India for spiritual travel. Reading his guest post has made me start planning a trip to India! A big thank you to Rohit!
No other place in the world offers as much grace of a spiritual experience as India. It is the root of major religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism. Religion has played a vital role in shaping the culture of India since ancient times. A country with the world’s second largest population of Hindus and Muslims and 28 million Christians, India is a land of all faiths. Listed here are some of the best destinations in India that you could visit to extend your religious and spiritual knowledge.
Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
The city of Varanasi is located on the banks of the Ganges river in Uttar Pradesh. More than 30 centuries old, it is often cited as the spiritual capital of India. This land of temples not only draws thousands of people from every part of the country every year but also many foreign tourists who throng to the city to witness the devotion of the masses to the Gods. Varanasi is also believed to be the birthplace of Buddhism, where Buddha gave his first sermon in 500 B.C.
The Golden Temple, Amritsar
Founded in the 16th century, the Golden Temple in Amritsar is a glorious sight symbolizing not only spiritual contentment but also brotherhood and equality. It welcomes everyone through its doors regardless of religion, race, caste or creed. Words cannot describe the experience of visiting this grand place. A must see at night when the lights adorn every inch of the temple.
It was here in Bodhgaya, beneath a bodhi tree, that Gautam Buddha gained enlightenment 2600 years ago. Emperor Ashoka who visited this town almost 3 centuries later is believed to be the founder of the first Mahabodhi Temple. This Temple Complex which now attracts Buddhist followers from all over the world is a must-see place, not only for meditation and prayer but also to experience the serenity that comes with the knowledge that Buddha himself walked these paths.
Ajmer Sharif Dargah, Rajasthan
A holy place for Hindus and Muslims alike, Ajmer Sharif Dargah in Rajasthan is always buzzing with pilgrims who come to devote themselves to their Gods and tourists who come for the scenic beauty of the place. It was here that Khawaja Moinuddin Chisthi laid the foundations of Islam for the first time in India in 1192 A.D. The Dargah is the sacred shrine of this Sufi saint and it brings together millions people of different faiths from all over the world every year. Though always crowded, a visit there, especially during the Urs festival, is a unique experience altogether.
Basilica of Bom Jesus, Goa
A UNESCO World Heritage site, the Basilica of Bom Jesus in Goa accommodates the mortal remains of St. Francis Xavier. It was constructed in the late 16th– early 17th century and is the only Basilica in Goa. The Basilica’s baroque architecture is one of the finest in the country. The interior is an experience to cherish. The altar is meticulously detailed while on the whole, the design is simple but elegant. Also equipped with a modern art gallery, which is one of the largest in Asia, it houses paintings portraying various biblical episodes.
Situated in the foothills of the Himalayas where the river Ganges originates, Haridwar is one of the holiest sites for Hindus who come every year in their millions to take a dip in the ice-cold fast flowing waters of the Ganges to wash away their sins. This city, often known as the ‘Gateway to God’, is an ancient pilgrimage site. It draws thousands of tourists from all over the world who come to India to understand its cultures, religions and people.
Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu
According to Hindu mythology, Lord Rama constructed a bridge at Rameshwaram stretching all the way to Sri lanka in order to save his wife Sita from her captor, the devil king, Ravana. It was here that Rama came to worship Lord Shiva to repent for his sins committed during the war with Ravana. Flanked by hills which contribute to a stunning view, the Ramanathaswamy temple is a combination of beautiful architecture, intricate design and deep-seated spirituality.
From a country of nearly a billion religious people, it is incredibly hard to pick just a few spiritual destinations. Other destinations that deserve mentioning are Vaishno Devi Temple in Jammu and Kashmir,Velankanni Church in Tamil Nadu, Shirdi in Maharashtra, Madurai in Tamil Nadu, Hampi in Karnataka.
About Rohit Agarwal
Rohit Agarwal is a traveler. He loves to share his traveling experiences through his blog, Transindiatravels.com. His love for different cultures, cuisines and architecture gives a view of the amazing destinations on earth. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter. A big thank you to Rohit for sharing some of his insider knowledge about the best destinations in India for spiritual travel!