India has a powerful undercurrent of spirituality that runs through almost every aspect of daily life, from the smell of incense burning in a temple to the bright coloured dress and markings of the sadhus who wander the streets. This country is rich in holy places, rituals, traditions and history and the teachings of various faiths have been passed down for many centuries.
It’s hard to visit India without being touched by its spiritual nature in some way and there are some incredible religious destinations that are sure to enchant you.
Located in the state of Uttar Pradesh, Varanasi is one of the seven sacred Hindu cities. The city is associated with Lord Shiva, the god of creation and destruction, and it is thought that anyone who dies here will achieve liberation from the cycle of reincarnation. You’ll find holy men and worshippers meditating along the riverside in this beautiful city that attracts Hindu pilgrims from all over the world.
At its height, Fatehpur Sikri was one of the finest examples of Mughal architecture. It was constructed between 1569 and 1585 and was originally intended to be the joint capital along with Agra – but it was soon abandoned because it could not support the residents. It’s beautiful palaces were untouched for over 400 years and it is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Visit the tomb of the renowned Sufi Saint Salim Chisti and the Jama Masjid – one of the largest mosques in India.
Hampi was once the magnificent capital of the Vijayanagar Empire and it is now a fascinating set of ancient ruins and temples. You can spend days exploring the temples and palaces that were built to dazzle travellers in the 14th and 16th centuries. The most impressive structure is the Vitthla temple with it’s granite Garuda shrine, an impressive architectural wonder that will leave you spellbound.
Madurai is the cultural capital of the state of Tamil Nadu in India. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world and it has a stunning collection of temples that were built by ancient Pandya kings. It is also one of the important Hindu pilgrimage sites of India. If you visit during the Chithrai Festival in April and May you will get to witness some of the spectacular rituals that take place in the city, such as the procession of the goddess and the celestial wedding.
Haridwar is known as the Gateway to God and it is one of the top seven holiest places in India. It is situated in a stunning setting within the foothills of the towering Himalayas in the region of Uttarakhand. Hindu pilgrims come from all over to dip their bodies in the holy waters of the Ganges River in order to wash away their sins.
Dating back to the 16th century the Harmandir Sahib or Golden Temple is located in Amritsar in the state of Punjab. It is the holiest Gurdwara in Sikhism and the most important pilgrim site for the Sikh community. Beautifully decorated and full of Sikh symbolism it is covered in gold leaf and sits in the middle of a man made lake fed by the waters of the river Ravi. It has the world’s largest kitchen that serves free food to up to 300,000 people per day.
These are just a few of the unforgettable spiritual destinations you can explore on your journey through India. To find out more about our tours and travel experiences, feel free to contact us at any time or discover more India holiday suggestions here: India Holidays