India is the hub of spiritual tourism. From the abode of Vaishno Devi at Jammu in the north to the Ramanathaswamy Temple at Rameshwaram in the south, and from Somnath at Saurashtra in the west to Lord Jagannath Temple at Puri in the east, India’s diverse geography is dotted with religious sites that are worth taking a trip once in a lifetime. The pilgrimage places in India are replete with history and religious mythologies. The air of spirituality is synonymous with India and a journey to a pilgrimage site only heightens it. Thousands of devotees from different parts of the world come to India for pilgrimage trips. Therefore, pilgrimage tourism in India emerged as one of the most prominent aspects of India tourism. Here we list the most popular pilgrimages in India that are worth taking once in a lifetime.
Pilgrimage tourism in India covers all prominent religious sites located in different parts of the country. Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri, popularly called the Char Dham, form the main circuit of pilgrimage tourism in India. The Char Dham, meaning the ‘four abodes’ are considered to be the most sacred by the Hindus. Interestingly, the main Char Dham or the bigger Char Dham comprises Badrinath in Uttarakhand, Puri in Odisha, Dwarka in Gujarat and Rameswaram in Tamil Nadu. These religious sites in India are not be confused with the smaller circuit Char Dham, i.e. Kedarnath, Badrinath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. The smaller circuit of Char Dham rests along the Garhwal Himalayan ranges of Uttarakhand. This circuit is also one of the most significant pilgrimages in India.
Amaranth cave located at an altitude of 3,888m in Jammu and Kashmir is another major part of pilgrimage tourism in India. Amarnath shrine is considered to be the holiest shrines of Hinduism. There is neither a sculpture nor an idol at Amarnath shrine, but an ice lingam that is formed with water droplets in the cave. It is mentioned in the Mahabharata and Puranas that Lingam represents Lord Shiva. A trip to the Amarnath shrine, which is popularly known as Amarnath Yatra is believed to be one of the most famous pilgrimage trips in India. Every year lakhs of devotees from different parts of the world flock the valley of Kashmir for the holy Amarnath Yatra. The Yatra takes place in the month of Shravan (between July and August).
The Kailash Mansarovar Yatra forms another major element of pilgrimage tourism in India. Kailash is believed to be the abode of Lord Shiva. The journey to Mt. Kailash is considered to be the journey of a lifetime. Mt. Kailash is situated at an altitude of nearly 22,028 feet in the Himalayan belt of western Tibet. The Kailash Mansarovar Yatra generally starts from Kathmandu or Lhasa. The spiritual tour generally takes around four days to be completed and is quite challenging and tiring. However, the mesmerizing view of the snow-clad Himalayas and the air of spirituality seem to wipe away all tiredness and adorn pilgrims with sheer peace. The darshan of Mt. Kailash is believed to be an incredible experience which is difficult to describe in words.
People from different parts of the world come to India to seek spiritual enlightenment. Though these pilgrimages are mostly taken by foot, to make it more comfortable, helicopter rides have been introduced. A helicopter ride is definitely less tiring and time-saving. The Char Dham Yatra, Amarnath Yatra and Kailash Mansarovar Yatra are believed to be the most pious trips that help one achieve moksha. Char Dham, Amarnath and Kailash Mansarovar, tucked thousands of kilometres away from the modern bustling cities, take pilgrims to a world of sheer divinity, peace and solace. The Char Dham Yatra, Amarnath Yatra and Kailash Mansarovar Yatra are believed to be the most pious trips that help one achieve moksha.
To ensure a smooth and hassle-free spiritual journey, pilgrims should make a note of the following things:
• A thorough medical check-up prior to the yatra. Those who are prone to asthma, heart ailments or arthritis, should preferably take the helicopter ride.
• Those who wish to take the journey by foot should start going for a morning walk and yoga before the actual yatra begins. This will boost their stamina and help them avoid fatigue during the trek.
• Weather is chilly even during summer. Therefore, it is recommended to wear woollen clothes and also carry adequate woollen garments during the trip.
• Carry food items like chocolates, nuts and dry fruits. It is good to avoid deep fried foods during the trip. Carrying water bottles is a must.
• Follow the rules and regulations listed out by the authorities.