Top 10 Spiritual Destinations in India
I have been traveling recently to some of the most beautiful, exotic and spiritual places in the country commonly referred to as the home of spirituality. This country is also the home of Yoga and meditation. Yes, you guessed it right. I have been traveling in some of the most spiritual destinations in India. As I was traveling, I couldn’t help but make some new friends from different parts of the world. Each of them I spoke to, had different stories and experiences to share about India. They also shared with me some of the most spiritual places they have been in India. This article is dedicated to some of those must visit spiritual destinations in India.
India today is not only known as an emerging economic power, but is also considered as probably the most important spiritual centers on earth. India is a melting pot of religions and cultures since more than 4,000 years. India is also the home of eastern spiritualism and has contributed to the world in various important ways, Yoga being an important one. As a result, India attracts millions of tourists every year from different places in the world.
Here is a list of spiritual destinations most of the travelers recommend. This list also includes some destinations which are sometimes largely ignored, but are in no way less spiritual than other commonly visited places.
10 Must visit spiritual places in India
- Haridwar: Haridwar translates to “Gateway of God” in Sanskrit and Hindi. It is considered as most sacred among the holiest places in India. It is also counted among the oldest living cities. It is located in Uttarakhand at the Himalayan foothills. It is particularly very holy to the Hindu pilgrims who like to take a dip in the holy Ganges River. It is said that, taking a dip in this holy water washes away all your sins. Unlike what you may have heard about the cleanliness of the Ganges River, the water here is pretty clean.
- Bodhgaya: This is an important spiritual center for Buddhist pilgrims. Situated in the state of Bihar, Bodhgaya is the place where Gautama Buddha became enlightened after an intense meditation under a Bodhi tree. In the exact spot, now there exists the Mahabodhi temple complex. There are numerous Buddhist monasteries in this town. Naturally, it also serves as a home for meditation and Buddhist teachings.
- Varanasi: The most common spiritual center I heard from every tourist who traveled India was Varanasi or Banaras. This is another holy place in India you cannot miss. Situated in the state of Uttar Pradesh, this is one more place among the holiest places in India. The Ganges River flows also through Varanasi. You can however not claim that the holy river to be clean compared to Haridwar. Banaras is considered the city of Lord Siva, a very revered god in India. Beliefs are that anyone who dies in this spiritual place attains moksha (salvation) without following the cycle of reincarnation.
- Rishikesh: An important contribution of India to the world is Yoga, and Rishikesh is the birth place of Yoga. It is one place where you can learn many aspects of Hinduism, Hindu spiritualism, meditation and of course Yoga. The holy place is again located on the banks of the Ganges River. Quite near to Haridwar, Rishikesh is surrounded by hills on three sides. The place is very popular with foreigners and tourists who seek spiritual awakening and learning.
- Madurai: This is one holy place which may not be very popular with foreign tourists. Most tourists travel the northern parts of India. But you haven’t completed your quest for spiritual knowledge if you haven’t been to some of the holiest places in the southern parts of India. South India and its temples add quite a different flavor to spirituality. Madurai is one of these places. The Meenakshi temple at Madurai is a holy place for millions of Hindus. Madurai has been an important spiritual and learning center for more than 2500 years. Its recorded history goes back to 3rd century BC as first mentioned by Megasthenes, the Greek ambassador to India.
- Tirupati: Claimed as being the second richest temple in the world after the Vatican, the Tirumala Tirupati temple is flocked by thousands of pilgrims every day from various parts of the globe. Some also claim this as the most visited place of worship in the world. The temple is situated on the top of the Tirumala (“Tiru” translates to holy and “malai” translates to mountain in Tamil) hill. It houses the statue of Venkateswara, a form of Lord Vishnu, another important deity for Hindus.
- Puri: The Jagannath temple situated in Puri, Orissa, is another famous Hindu temple visited by foreigners all around the world. This temple is dedicated to Jagannath, another form of Vishnu (commonly as Lord Krishna), his wife Subhadra and his brother Balabhadra (or Balaram). The temple is famous for its Ratha Yatra or chariot festival, in which the temple deities are hauled on elaborately decorated temple chariots.
- Ajmer: The Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti’s Dargah in Ajmer is a holy place for Muslims. Yet, it attracts people from all religions and countries equally. The tomb of a highly revered Sufi saint was constructed by the Mughal emperor Humayaun. Subsequent Mughal rulers erected several mosques around it. Even to this day, millions of pilgrims go there to obtain the saint’s blessings.
- Amritsar: The golden temple at Amritsar is probably the holiest place for the Sikhs in India. Another interesting thing is that the foundations of this holy place were laid by Hasrat Mian Mir, a Muslim saint. The pond in front of this temple, Amrit Sarovar, is believed to have curative properties. A dip in the holy river is believed to cure many ailments. Another ritual worth witnessing is the nightly ritual of moving the Guru Granth Sahib to the neighboring Akal Takht building in a golden chariot from the temple.
- Amarnath: The Amarnath temple is situated on Mount Amarnath in Jammu and Kashmir. It is again counted amongst the holiest places of worship for Hindus and is dedicated to Lord Siva. It is believed to be over 5000 years old. The temple enshrines a naturally formed Siva Linga (a commonly revered form of Siva). It is formed from icy glaciers in the Himalayas. Hence, the Siva Lingam is formed between May and August, and wanes afterwards. The temple (and caves) is located at an altitude of 12,756 km.
So, here are the top 10 spiritual destinations in India you must visit if you are looking to have a spiritual awakening in this spiritual country on earth.