The spiritual air in the country humbly carries the fragrance of Karma, Dharma and most importantly Forgiveness. A secular country under whose shelter dwells multiple religions in utmost peace and harmony, India can rightly be called the ‘Land of Faith’. Trudge through the mighty mountains and you shall experience divine presence or traverse through the meandering alleys, where spirituality combined with history waits to greet your spiritually thirsty souls. The pious soil of the country constantly keeps you in contact with a Supreme Power that dwells in different forms. The existence of a large number of Temple,mosque,churches, Gurudwaras and Monastries in India beckons the traveler to visit a country that is tolerant, spiritual and most of all diverse yet united. Having an upper hand in the country, spirituality has propelled many ordinary destinations into significant religious places in India.
A pilgrimage to the Holy Shrine of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji is considered to be one of the holiest pilgrimages of our times. Popular the world over as Moonh Maangi Muradein Poori Karne Wali Mata, which means, the Mother who fulfills whatever Her children wish for, Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Ji resides in a Holy Cave located in the folds of the three peaked mountain named Trikuta (pronounced as Trikoot). The Holy Cave attracts millions of devotees every year. In fact, the number of Yatris visiting the Holy Shrine annually now exceeds one crore. This is due to the unflinching faith of the devotees who throng the Shrine from all parts of India and abroad.
The Holy Cave of the Mother is situated at an altitude of 5200 ft. The Yatris have to undertake a trek of nearly 12 km from the base camp at Katra. At the culmination of their pilgrimage, the yatries are blessed with the Darshans of the Mother Goddess inside the Sanctum Sanctorum- the Holy Cave. These Darshans are in the shape of three natural rock formations called the Pindies. There are no statues or idols inside the Cave.
Since the year 1986, when the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi Shrine Board (commonly called Shrine Board) was formed, the management of the Shrine and regulation of the Yatra has been vested in the Board. The Board has undertaken a number of developmental activities aimed at making the Yatra a comfortable and satisfying experience for the Yatris. The Board continues to reinvest the offerings and donations received in carying out improvements in various kinds of Yatri facilities.
Ajmer Sharif Dargah
Ajmer Sharif Dargah, also known as Ajmer Dargah, is the tomb of Moinuddin Chishti is one of the holiest places of worship in India not only for the Muslims but followers of every faith. Being the final resting place of the Khwaja Moin-ud-din Chisti, it has had an enormous contribution in spreading the ethical and spiritual values of Islam amongst masses.
Khwaja Moin-ud-din Chisti was a great Sufi Saint and dedicated his entire life for the upliftment of the poor and downtrodden. The shrine is visited by millions of people every year, as it is considered very sacred by people of all the religions. Ajmer Sharif was built by the Mughal Emperor Humayun, hence justifying the rich Mughal Architecture. The Dargah has various constituents like tombs, courtyards and Daalaans. The major among these structures are- Nizam Gate, Buland Darwaza, Jama Masjid, Aulia Masjid, Dargah Shrine, Mehfilkhana and about a dozen of other prominent establishments.
One can spot two huge cauldrons in the inner courtyard of the shrine. These containers have a capacity of 2240 kg and 4480 kg and are used during special occasions to cook sweet delicacies like Kheer.
One of the most spiritual places in India, Golden Temple, also known as Sri Harmandir Sahib, is the holiest shrines in Sikhism and is alive with religious fervour and sacredness. Its divinity is a thing that can only be experienced and not described. After going through a tumultuous period of demolitions, it was rebuilt by Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1830 purely with marble and gold. It is the view of the resplendent shrine, glistening in the centre of the tank that brings an infinite calmness. It is located right in the heart of Amritsar and is easily reachable from any part of the city. Serving as a symbol of brotherhood and equality, Golden Temple is visited by people from all over the world who come here to seek spiritual solace and religious fulfilment. In spite of the thousands of people milling about in the premises of the temple, the only voice you will hear around you is silence interspersed with chants of the Sikh prayers.
Located in the beautiful city of Amritsar, Golden Temple is just a small part of the vast complex known as Harmandir Sahib or Darbar Sahib to the Sikhs. The spiritual focus is the tank, the Amrit Sarovar, which surrounds the glistening central shrine. Amritsar takes its name from this Amrit Sarovar which was excavated in 1577 by the fourth Sikh guru, Guru Ram Das.
Around the edge of the compound, there are more shrines and monuments. The Sikh Museumis located inside the main entrance clock tower which shows the oppression endured by the Sikhs at the hands of the Mughals, the British and the Indian Government of 1984. The Ramgarhia Bunga is a protective fortress located at the southeast end of the tank and is surrounded by two Islamic-style minarets. Golden Temple is indisputably one of the most exquisite attractions in the world.
Basilica of Bom Jesus, Goa
The Basilica of Bom Jesus church is one of a kind in India and is known for its exemplary baroque architecture. Built in the year 1594 and consecrated in 1605, the building of this church coincides with the beginning of Christianity in India. The church is located in Old Goa in Bainguinim about 10 km away from Panjim. The oldest church in Goa, Basilica of Bom Jesus holds the remains of St. Francis Xavier, a special friend of St. Ignatius Loyola with whom he founded the Society of Jesus (Jesuits). Even after 400 years, the remains are in a good condition and are taken out once every decade. A site with rich cultural and religious significance, the Basilica of Bom Jesus has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Literally translating to ‘Holy Jesus‘, the basilica of Bom Jesus is the only church in Old Goa that is not been plastered on the outside. The facade of the church has a triangular roofing which is delicately carved with the initials ‘IHS‘, which is an abbreviation for Jesuit emblem meaning ‘Jesus, Saviour of Men’. Inside, the floor of this church is made of marble mosaic with precious stones, giving it a solemn appearance. The interior is embellished with a screen that runs from the floor to the ceiling and has the image of St. Ignatius Loyola protecting an infant Jesus. Above all is the image of the Holy Trinity, which is the most sacred symbol in Christianity. The Basilica of Bom Jesus is over 408 years old and is open to the public every day.
It is reckoned that Baba Bholenath call out to his devotees to Amarnath cave, where he generously showers blessings and grant prayers and wishes of the people. Perched at an elevation of around 3,888 m and 45 kms away from Pahalgam, Amarnath Temple is believed to be the earthly abode of Lord Shiva.
Legend has it that the Amarnath Cave was chosen by Lord Shiva to reveal the secret of creation of the world and immortality to his consort Goddess Parvati. After leaving behind all his ornaments, he entered this holy cave along with Goddess Parvati with the intention to let out the secret. It is believed that while he was letting out the secret, a pigeon’s egg over heard it and became immortal. It is also believed that the pair, which was born out of the egg, can still be seen in the cave.
Considered to be a sacred Hindu pilgrimage, Amarnath is famed for the natural formation of Shiva Linga from the snow. A large number of devotees throng Amarnath during the months of June and August. This pious journey, which is also dubbed the holy Amarnath Yatra, begins from Chandanwadi (16kms from Pahalgam) and via Pissu, Sheshnag and Panchtarni, it concludes at Amarnath Cave situated on the Amarnath mountain. There is also another route for the Yatra starting from Jammu and via Udhampur, Patnitop, Kud, Ramban, Banihal, QaziGund, Anantnag, Srinagar and Baltal, the journey finally concludes at the holy cave
The tourist season in Uttarakhand is on and the historic temple in Kedarnath re-opened for pilgrims on Thursday. The temple, which is dedicated to Lord Shiva, is said to be more than 1,200 years old. It was built by Adi Shankaracharya and is among one of the 12 jyotirlingas in India.
A visit to the Kedarnath temple is an integral part of the famous Char Dham Yatra in Uttarakhand. The yatra (pilgrimage) also includes visits to shrines like Gangotri, Yamunotri and Badrinath. All four shrines are located in the Garhwal division of Uttrakhand.
Every year thousands of pilgrims visit the Kedarnath temple during the pilgrimage season and the Char Dham Yatra is a major source of income for Uttarakhand’s tourism industry.
On Thursday, the Kedarnath temple was re-opened amid chanting of Vedic hymns and religious rituals. News agency IANS reported that an idol of Lord Shiva was placed in the temple and the gates were thrown open at 5.35 am.
Located at a height of nearly 3,500 meters above the sea level, the Kedarnath temple remains covered in snow for the most part of the year.