India is one of the world's major spiritual centers with its many temples and other virtuous sites that have nowadays become the cynosure of the world's eyes. These holy sites not only attract thousands of pilgrims from different corners of India and the world. It also lures many knowledge seekers, researchers, and curious travellers who are keen to get an insight into India's rich spiritualistic and Vedic history.
Religion has great significance in India. Devotees go through all sorts of pain for a visit to the shrines at these places in the hope that their sins will be forgiven and the Almighty will bless them. And all Hindu pilgrimages in north India are extremely famous and attract pilgrims all year round. A tour of North India is incomplete without a visit to some of these famous religious destinations of the country.
Most Famous Religious Places In North India
1. Amarnath Cave Temple (Jammu & Kashmir)
One of the most religious shrines for Hindus, the holy 'Amarnath Cave' is situated in a 'Lidder Valley' in Jammu and Kashmir. This valley is covered with heavy snow throughout the year. The holy cave gets huge and accessible to pilgrims for only a very duration in the summers around the grand festival of Shravani Mela in July and August. A large number of adorers gather here to get the divine darshans of the natural Shivlinga formed from ice in this cave. It is accepted that Lord Shiva unrevealed the secrets of life, death, moksha, and immortality to Goddess Parvati in this holy cave.
2. Vaishno Devi, Jammu & Kashmir
Another one of India's most revered Hindu pilgrimage destinations is the holy shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi, situated on the 'Trikoot Parvat' near Katra in Jammu & Kashmir. Every year Thousands of adorers from all across India and from different corners of the world visit the temple. Three forms of Goddess Durga in the shape of three naturalistic rock formations known as 'Holy Pindies' are worshipped in the holy cave of Mata Vaishno Devi. The roads to the holy cave are in quite good conditions, with rest houses, eateries, dhabas, and lined at various places across the route. The holy 'Vaishno Devi Yatra' begins from the base camp of Katra, covering a total distance of nearly 12km. Pilgrims necessary to cover the distance on foot. Apart from these, whose health conditions are not fine, can book ponies and palkis rented. From Katra to Sanjhi Chhat, private helicopter services are available where the remaining distance needs to be covered on foot.
3. Haridwar, Uttarakhand
Haridwar, also called 'Gateway to God', is one of India's most sacred pilgrim destinations. It is situated on the Himalayas and banks of the holy Ganga River in Uttarakhand. Haridwar attracts umpteen pilgrims, travellers, and holiday seekers from across India and various corners of the world. Thousands of pilgrims travel to this holy city from far-off locations to take a bath in the holy waters to remove their sins. It is also one of the 4 pilgrim destinations in India where 'Kumbh Mela' is organized on a rotation basis. The city's magical charm, with its stir markets lined up with curio shops, small eateries, ghats crowded with sadhus and pilgrims, and sounds of temple bells echoing in the ears, takes you into its full spirits.
4. Golden Temple (Punjab)
The Golden Temple is the most religious Sikh Gurudwara, in India and the whole world. The temple's official name is Harmandir Sahib, also well-known as Darbar Sahib. It was established by the 5th Sikh guru, Guru Arjan, and completed in 1604. The environment at the gurudwara is one of acute peace and spirituality. The most magnificent feature is the Amrit Sarovar, a holy tank that is said to have natural healing powers. The central temple is located at the end of a causeway on the tank. The amazing beauty of the temple, with its gold and marble structure, is unexampled. Thousands of individuals visit the Golden Temple daily.
5. Bodhgaya, Bihar
Located in the Gaya district of Bihar, Bodhgaya is the most sacred pilgrim destination worldwide for Buddhists. It is at this very spot where Lord Buddha gained enlightenment. Monks and thousands of Buddhist pilgrims worldwide visit this holy city every year.
6. Kedarnath Temple, Uttarakhand
It is one of the 4 Chota Char Dhams (Small Four Abodes) situated near the Mandakini River in Kedarnath, Uttarakhand. The temple is mainly devoted to Lord Shiva and can be reached by a 14 km trek from Gaurikund. It's the most significant of the twelve Jyotirlingas. It is believed to have been built by the Pandavas, which Adi Sankaracharya then rebuilt in the 8th century C.E. There's a statue of Nandi, Lord Shiva's mount, in front of the structure. The temple is surrounded by snowy peaks and glaciers. It can only be visited from April to around November till the Kartik Purnima. The temple is mainly revered by Hindus, and many come from far and wide to visit it.
7. Mathura – Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh
The twin cities of Mathura and Vrindavan are associated with Lord Krishna. Situated on the River Yamuna in Uttar Pradesh. Mathura is where Krishna was born, and Vrindavan is where he spent his childhood and early youth. Many folktales of Radha and Krishna revolve around the city of Vrindavan. One of the significant pilgrimage centers for Hindus, these holy cities are thronged by millions of pilgrims every year, particularly during the festivals of Janmashtami and Holi. Here are some famous attractions not to be missed during your visit to these holy cities.
8. Badrinath Temple, Uttarakhand
Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, Badrinath Temple is situated the beside the Alakananda River and is one of the 4 Char Dhams. Attracting worshippers from far and wide, the temple is perched at an elevation of approximately 10,827 above sea level. Enhancing the temple's sanctity is Lord Vishnu's idol in a meditative and composed posture around which there are fifteen idols carved out of black stone. Considered among the main pilgrim sites in India, the temple remains open only from May to November, owing to extreme weather conditions.
9. Gangotri, Uttarakhand
Second of the four pilgrim destinations of the 'Char Dham Yatra' in Uttarakhand, Gangotri marks the holy abode of Goddess' Ganga,' the most sacred river of Hindus. Home to the originating point of the Ganga River, this is one of the most spiritual places for Hindus in the world. It is accepted that taking a dip in the holy waters of Ganga can relieve you from the cycle of life and death. Unspoilt natural charm, mesmerizing scenic vistas, fresh mountain air, and the chants of 'Jai Ma Gange' echoing in the ears make you feel connected with divine power as you head towards Gangotri.
Reflecting the rich culture and heritage, the most famous temples in North India offer a beautiful base for pilgrims who want tranquillity. So, while planning a tour to North India, pay a visit to any of these famous temples and lend your soul some soothing moments. The pilgrimage tours embark you on spiritual journeys and help you get closer to nature and its creations. Please take some time from your busy schedules to get some spiritual bliss and peace.