Spirituality is the backbone of India, as said by Swami Vivekananda, and we have to agree with him on that. India is indeed deeply tied to its spirituality. It is home to millions of gods and several faiths, many of which share the same roots. And the country is dotted with numerous points of faith, places of worship and pilgrimage that are of immeasurable value to these faiths. Every year, millions of people from all walks of lives make their way to these places; some to fulfill their wishes, some to wash away their sins, some to complete an important ritual of their faith, and others just to come closer to the gods that are in their hearts. And Google India has recently released a report showing which of these destinations are most searched in India, giving an idea of which spiritual destination is the most popular. ALSO READ: 10 Temples to visit in India on the first day of the year!
Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh
Tirupati – Tirumala
Considered the second home to the Hindu god Vishnu, after his celestial abode up in the stars, Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh holds an exalted position in India. It is considered one of the holiest places in a country that is full of it, and its status as the star of India’s pilgrimage sites is evident the moment you see it. The massive temple complex lies on the last of seven peaks that make up the Tirumala Hills, and it sees up to 100,000 visitors every single day. On days of major celebrations, the temple sees as many as 500,000 visitors. This is one of the richest temple establishments too, thanks in no small part to the offerings given by devotees over the centuries, including the rulers of the Chola, Pallava and Devraya empires. The temple can be reached via Tirupati airport or railway station.
Harmandir Sahib, Amritsar
Amritsar‘s name translates to the pool that holds the mythological nectar of immortality, a name that derives from the divine pool around which the Golden Temple of Harmandir Sahib and the city was built. This pool, and the city by extension, is thus the fountainhead of the Sikh religion. The Harmandir Sahib is considered the holiest of all Sikh gurudwaras and the foremost site of pilgrimage for the millions who follow the faith. More than 100,000 people visit the holy shrine, said to bring peace to all those who visit, and it is not just Sikhs who visit the temple. People of all faiths come to the Golden Temple to seek their spirituality, and many do find what they seek here. The temple and the city itself is a wonderful experience, with colors everywhere and kirtans (traditional hymns) being sung.
Jagannath Temple, Puri
Along the eastern coast of India in the state of Odisha lies the city of Jagannath Puri, also called Puri. The city’s spiritual importance, and its name, comes from the 12th century Jagannath Temple, considered one of the four Char Dam pilgrimage sites in the Hindu religion. The temple’s roots date back to the Kalinga empire, and over the years it has been invaded, plundered and desecrated several times. But the temple has endured, and today it is one of the most divine sites in the country. It is also the site for the famous Rath Yatra celebration, which hundreds of thousands of devotees come to witness every year. And even if you do not count yourself among the worshipers, the immaculate architecture and the history of this place would draw you in.
Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
It is called by many names – Kashi, Benaras, Varanasi – and its history is as rich and vibrant as India’s. The holy city of Varanasi lies along the banks of the holiest of all Indian rivers and one of the longest in the world, Ganga. It is, in fact, the holiest of the Sapta Puri pilgrimage centers in India, which include Kanchipuram, Haridwar and Dwarka. Varanasi gets its name because it lies at the confluence of two rivers: Varuna and Assi. The city is famous for its ancient buildings and even more ancient way of life, with gurus and babas walking alongside you on its narrow streets and hundreds of thousands gathering at its ghats to bathe in the Ganga. It is said that the water of this river absolves your sins, and the waters are also where several rituals and prayers take place. ALSO READ: These stunning Varanasi photos capture the underlying pulse of the holy city!
Shirdi Sai Baba
On the western end of India, in the state of Maharashtra, is the small town of Shirdi. The town lies around 300 km from Mumbai, and its spiritual heritage stems from the fact that it was the home of the 19th-century saint and spiritual leader, Sai Baba. The town today is home to the Sri Saibaba Sansthan, one of the largest and richest temples in the world dedicated to the saint. Thousands of people visit the town and temple from all over India to worship and pray to the saint, who established a new religion during his time that combined both Hinduism and Islam. As such, Sai Baba drew in devotees across all religions, castes and creeds, which is why his teaches and temple are so popular. NOW READ: 10 ultimate temple trips in South India which you must embark on!
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