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PILLIGRIMAGE TOURS

The land of versatility - India is second to none, more when it becomes an object of study, analysis and attention all because of the different religions to which it serves as amalgamating pot. Every religion has its significance and a proposed way of life to live it as ideally as possible. It is possible to get a glimpse of each of them and revel in the rich knowledge, the way followers of different faiths try to connect with their Creator at various pilgrimage sites in India. In the process of learning about ourselves and our Creator along with the purpose we meant to serve in our life, people learn about vice and virtue. However, even after receiving spiritual education since the day of our conception, we fall in the rut of committing mistakes and sins which later leads to performing penance as we prefer. Taking a sacred journey- a pilgrimage tour is only one of the many yet the most preferred way of redemption, more when it is India a pilgrim is wandering to. Muslims can spread their praying carpets, close their eyes chanting verses from Holy Quran with palms spread in worship of Allah Almighty in any of the great mosques found in different corners of the country. Hindus can embark on an arduous journey to holy places like Vaishno Devi, Amarnath and Chardham or they can join their hands in devotion and perform various rituals during their visit to temples where God is believed to have manifested Himself in different form and incarnations like Jyotirlingas, Saktipeeths, etc. Sikhs can choose among the different Gurudwaras set up by their Gurus, beginning with Guru Nanak just as the Christians can find a Church that serves their spiritual and religious needs. Jain Tirthankars on the other hand have left enough of worshiping sanctities where peace is sought after by followers of Jainism, like the monasteries, gompas and stupas stand proud to guide those who seek to be guided by the preaching and teachings of Buddhism. Pilgrimage holidays proffer the piece of life that seems lost in materialism sometimes with entertainment as well along with enlightenment as a part of holy festivals / processions one participates in. Over and AboveMind can still searches for answers of questions that most of them dread to ask for the fear of being lost in lack of wisdom beyond the religious constrains. The answer comes in the form of Sufi sites of worship, Baha'i way of thinking, Spiritual Ashrams, places like Shirdi and Puttuparthy, etc that might give just the peace we longed for. Nothing happens without cause and pilgrimage tour in India only strengthens the faith on life, humanity and Creator. Take one with us to acknowledge the fact yourself.

Hindu Pilgrimage:

- Hinduism is the oldest known religion and to many people it's not a religion at all but a philosophy cut to a size that consequently fits all. Follow any God or Goddess and as many as you want or don't follow at all; chant prayers, bhajans and Sanskrit hymns or not utter a single word; perform every ritual as directed or be a mere spectator, Hinduism stops no one from doing whatever is his way to lead a life as he deem fit and neither forces anyone to be a part of it in a strict scripture-way. Still, Hindu pilgrimage destinations continue to attract people from every corner of world and they come to believe of their salvation guided by instincts. Hinduism generally tells about the Holy Trinity- Lord Brahma the Creator, Lord Vishnu the Operator and Lord Shiva the Destroyer and rest of the things that is considered to be a part of this religion is found to be placed around them. This also includes different God and Goddess with their powers, mysteries, stories and legends followed by multiple Hindu temples dedicated to them. From among them, a worshipper can chose the One he relates with and follow. Thus, he tends to learn rituals, fasts, tirths, legends and myths, etc related with the God he is devoted to. Various Hindu pilgrimage sites as a consequence become his place of redemptions. Like for the followers of Shakti, Nainital, Vaishno Devi, Maihar, Meenakshi Temple, etc are prominent whereas for devotees to Lord Shiva, find themselves around 12 jyotirlingas at different locations on the country. There are 1000’s of sites and places in India which has the religious importance for Hinduism, few of them to mention here.

Allahabad :

- Allahabad or Prayag is also called the "Tirth Raj", the king of all pilgrimage centres. The city of Allahabad is among the largest cities of Uttar Pradesh and is situated at the confluence of three rivers - Ganga, Yamuna and the invisible Saraswati. The meeting point is known as 'Triveni' and is especially sacred to Hindus. The earlier settlements of the Aryans were established in this city, and then known as Prayag. Its sanctity is manifest by references to it in Purans, the Ramayan and the Mahabharata. According to Hindu mythology, Lord Brahma, the creator God of the Trinity, chose a land on earth (i.e. Prayag) to perform 'Prakrista Yag', at the beginning of the creation and he also referred to it as 'Tirth Raj' or the 'King of all pilgrimage centres'. As per writing of 'Padam Puran' - "As the sun is amongst the moon and the moon amongst the stars, likewise 'Prayag' is best amongst all places of pilgrimage". The places to visit in Allahabad include Sangam-which is the site of Khumb Mela as well, Patalpuri Temple.

Amarnath:

- One of the holy trinity, Shiva is a living God. The most sacred and most ancient book of India, the Rig Veda evokes his presence in its hymns, Vedic Myths, rituals and even testifies to his existence from the dawn of time. Legend has it that Shiva recounted to Parvati the secret of creation in a cave in Amarnath. Unknown to them, a pair of doves eavesdropped on this conversation and having learnt the secret, are reborn again and again, and have made the cave their eternal abode. Many pilgrims report seeing the doves pair during the tedious route to pay obeisance before the ice lingam (the phallic symbol of Shiva). Situated in a narrow gorge, the Amarnath Cave stands at a height of 12,755 ft. It is believed that in every lunar month, the icy Shivalinga in the cave begins to take its shape on the first day of the bright half of the month. It reaches its full size on the full moon day and on getting its fullest shape, begins to wane and disappear on the new moon day. This process repeats itself each month. Legends has it that Shiva made the Gods immortal by providing them with the celestial nectar, and resided here upon their request. The boon of immortality lent the name Amarnath. Since it is believed that Shiva manifested himself first on the full moon day in the month of Shravan (July-August), this is the only time of the year when a journey is possible to this mountainous area. A tough and arduous trek is the only way to reach this holy shrine. Hundreds of pilgrims embark on the Yatra (Religious Pilgrimage) annually to achieve salvation.

Ayodhya:

- Ayodhya is also known as Oudh or Awadh city, South-central Uttar Pradesh state, northern India. It lies on the Ghaghara (Gogra) River near Faizabad. The city of Ayodhya is an important pilgrim place for Hindus in India. It is one of the seven holiest cities of India. Ayodhya is the birthplace of Lord Ram, who is an important deity in the Hindu pantheon. This small, quiet town attracts pilgrims from all over the country. Hindu pilgrims visiting Ayodhya during festivals and important religious functions consider a holy dip in the sacred Saryu River very auspicious. It is said that Ayodhya has 7000 temples, but there are some 100 temples of relative significance.

Badrinath:

- The Vishnu temple of Badrinath is located 298 kms from Rishikesh and 48 km from Joshimath. This holy town nestles at a height of 3,133 metres, at the site where a forest of Badri (Berry) trees, known as the mythical Badrivan, once covered the area. The great Nilkantha peak (6,558 metres) towers over the temple set deep down in the Alaknanda valley. The rulers of Garhwal built the present temple of Badrinarayan some two hundred years ago. The original Badrinath shrine, built by the 9th century saint Shankara, has been re-built several times over due to damage from avalanches and snowfall. Made of wood, the temple stands 15 metres high, topped with a gilded cupola. The exteriors are painted in bright colours every year before the temple gates open. Standing in sharp contrast to the grey concrete buildings around it and the stark mountain slopes behind, the temple resembles a Tibetan gompa from a distance. The head priest of Badrinath is also that of Kedarnath, hailing from the Namboodiri Brahmin caste of Kerala in southern India. Below the temple are the Tapt Kund and Surya Kund, hot sulphur springs where pilgrims take a ritual dip before entering the temple. The ancient village of Badrinath is to the south of the temple. –The 7 kms long flat, hard beach, dotted with casuarina plantations, is close to the border with Orissa and a 5 hour drive from Kolkata. Here the river Hoogly becomes indistinguishable from the Bay of Bengal.

Haridwar :

- Haridwar is the gateway to the four pilgrimages of Uttaranchal. It's also your starting point on the journey to the sacred sources of the Ganga and the Yamuna Rivers.The holy city of Haridwar is home to some of the most sacred Hindu rituals. Round the year devotees from all over the country flock here in tens & thousands to perform "Poojas" or prayers. Renowned for the "Maha Kumbh Mela" which appear Every 12 years and the enchanting "Aarti" at "Har Ki Pauri" which captives the beholder with hundreds of burning wick lamps floating down the Ganga, this town has been distinguished for centuries in the Indian society.The list of attractions in Haridwar is endless. Har-Ki-Pauri, the sacred ghat was constructed by King Vikramaditya in the memory of his brother Bhartrihari. The golden reflection of floral diyas in the river Ganges is the most enchanting sight in the twilight during the Ganga aarti ceremony at the ghat.Haridwar has a number of interesting sites that you can include in your excursion. Rishikesh, around 28 km off Haridwar, is at the base of the Himalayas and it is where the Ganges comes down to the plains from the hills. A breath-taking experience of natural beauty and undiscovered wildlife awaits here. Not to mention the peace and tranquillity of a landscape associated with sages and meditation.During the 19th century, Haridwar became an important centre of Arya Samaj, a reform movement in the 19th century India. In 1902, the Arya Samajis, or the followers of this sect, founded the Gurukul of Haridwar that became the famous Centre for Vedic Studies.

Kedarnth:

- One of the holiest pilgrimages for the Hindus, Kedarnath Temple Jyotilinga is located in the picturesque surroundings of Rudra Himalaya Range at a height of 12000 feet on a mountain named Kedar. Near Kedarnath is the source of the river Mandakini that joins Alakananda at Rudraprayag. This place is approximately 150 miles away from Hardwar and 132 miles north of Rishikesh and is accessible by foot. The temple at Kedarnath enshrining the Jyotilingam of Shiva opens only 6 months a year (April-November) when the sun enters the zodiac sign of Aries and it is closed when the sun enters Scorpio. The priests then go to Ukhimath, where the worship of Kedareshwara is continued during the winter season. Tradition has it that when undertaking Kedarnath Yatra pilgrims first visit Yamunotri and Gangotri and bring with them the holy waters from the sources of the rivers Yamuna and Ganga and offer abhishekams to Kedareshwara. The traditional pilgrim route is Haridwar - Rishikesh - Devaprayag - Tehri - Dharasu - Yamunotri - Uttar Kashi - Gangotri - Triyugnarayan - Gowrikund and Kedarnath. The alternative route to Kedar from Rishikesh is via Devprayag, Srinagar, Rudraprayag and Ukhimath.

Kheer Bhawani:

- Kheer Bhawani is the holy temple of the Goddess Ragnya Devi.It is located in the village of Tulla Mulla, that is at a distance of 27 kms from Srinagar,Kashmir. Devotees fast and gather here on the eighth day of the full moon in the month of May when, according to common belief, the goddess changes the colour of the spring's water. The temple complex is known as Kheer Bhawani because of the thousands of devotees who offer milk and kheer, a form of Indian desert, to the sacred spring, which magically turns black to warn of impending disaster. Pilgrims who have faith in the divine powers of the goddess usually undertake tours and travel to this pilgrimage. Goddess Ragnya devi is the form of Maa Durga Bhagvati. The Brahmins of Kashmir worship this spring and pilgrims from every corner of the country visit to have the darshan of the place. The water of the spring changes its colour from time to time. It takes on various hues like red, pink, orange, green, and blue and has often light green, red rosy and milky white shades.Any shade of black colour is supposed to be inauspicious for the inhabitants of the valley.

Mathura:

- Mathura is one of the most ancient cities of India and is one of the holiest of religious places in the Hindu mythology.Mathura an ancient holy city in India derives its eminence from being the birthplace of Lord Krishna. Situated at a distance of 145 kms from Delhi and 58 kms from Agra in the state of Utter Pradesh, the city is known for its many temples dedicated to the Lord Krishna. The temples are visited by pilgrims from all over the world. The Temple Dwarkadesh built by Seth Gokul Das of Gwalior in 1814 is arrayed with some ethereal pictures depicting the entire life of Krishna. In 600 B.C. Mathura was the capital of Braj situated on the West Bank of river Yamuna. Today Mathura has become the sacred place of religious and epic interest and attracts pilgrims from the Hindu, Buddhist and Jain religion. All round the year, a large number of festivals and fairs are held in Mathura and the bordering areas of Vrindavan, Gokul, Barsana and Goverdhan.

Pushkar:

- One of the most sacred sites for the Hindus, Pushkar is a very ancient place. The antiquity of the place can be gauged from the fact that circumstances leading to its origin have been extensively dealt with in the ancient scripture of the Padma (Lotus) Purana. According to the text, Pushkar came into being, when Lord Brahma, Creator in the Hindu Trinity, dropped petals of lotus flower (pushpa) to earth from his hand (kar) to kill a demon. This resulted in the formation of three lakes in the desert land. The largest of these lakes is today revered as one of India's most sacred sites and bounded by temples and bathing ghats. Though Pushkar attracts devotes all-round the year, it is during the five-day Kartik Purnima festival which witnesses a seething sea of humanity pouring out into the streets of this sacred town. Devotees take a dip in the redemptory waters of the lake and worship at the Brahma Temple. It is interesting to know that the shrine is the only one in the world dedicated to Brahma who otherwise occupies a very important place in the Hindu pantheon of Gods. A pilgrimage to the holy town of Pushkar with us is an unforgettable experience. The place abounds with many temples, which are must-visits for any devout Hindu. Apart from the Brahma Temple, other shrines of importance are Savitri Temple, Rangji Temple, Warah Temple and Apteshwar Temple. Thanks to the extreme sacredness of the place, it is advisable for those who travel to Pushkar, to respect the town's holy status and not to eat meat or consume alcohol. In fact it is an earnest desire for every pious Hindu to make a Pushkar pilgrimage.

Rishikesh :

-Rishikesh represents the Gateway to the Himalayas in the Tehri-Garhwal region of Uttar Pradesh. It abounds in natural splendour. The spectacle of the Ganga rushing through the Himalayan foothills is an awesome sight. Several temples dot the banks of the Ganga at Rishikesh. Rishikesh is located at a height of about 1360 feet above sea level. It is believed that several yogis and sages lived and practised penance here. Rishikesh represents the site where Vishnu vanquished the demon Madhu.Tapovan on the other bank of the Ganges houses a temple to Lakshmana. It is believed that Lakshmana carried out penances here. It is also believed that his brother Bharata meditated here, and there is a temple to Bharata here. Also seen here are the Swargashram and the Geeta Bhavan temples.

Uttarkashi :

- Uttarkashi , a hill district in the state of Uttarakhand holds the grace of having the origin of rivers Ganga and Yamuna , the lifelines of India. Also known as the 'Devbhumi' (The land of Gods and Goddesses), Uttarkashi is the land of two famous Hindu pilgrimages namely ' Gangotri' and ' Yamunotri'. Here the nature expresses itself in breath-taking variations from charming valleys, natural lakes, fountains and beauteous landscapes luxuriously decked with vegetation punctuated by streams, brooks and rivers to high raise awesome rocky ridges and mountains with snow-capped peaks. All this makes the district an utmost attraction for the pilgrim’s .From the religious point of view as well, it is considered important because the temple of Lord Viswanath is located here. A massive iron trident has also been erected here. A description of this temple has been given in the ancient text, the "Kedar Khand" (Skand-Puran).Uttarkashi also has a number of ashrams for the sanyasis and mendicants who occupy the banks of the holy river for penance and prayers.

Mata Vaishno Devi:

-Recognized as one of the 'Shakti Peethas', Ma Vaishno Devi Temple is situated in the folds of the 'Trikuta Hill', in Jammu and Kashmir. This abode of Goddess Durga is supposed to be one of the wish fulfilling places, where lakhs of devotees from India and abroad gather for Ma Vaishno Devi's blessings.People who visit the shrine constitute a heterogeneous profile comprising of wealthy & poor, aged & young, males & females from within and outside the country. The Shrine of goddess 'Vaishno Devi' is reached by an arduous climb.The scenic beauty, the landscape around and the constant chanting of 'Jai Mata Di', leaves a mystic effect on the devotees. At the culmination of their pilgrimage the devotees are blessed with the 'Darshans' of the deity in her three manifestations as three Pindies, located inside the sanctum- sanatorium, which is open for the devotees throughout the year in all seasons.It is truly a spiritually uplifting experience to witness the faith of the devotees, who are motivated to the heart by three words being chanted since the ages.

Varanasi :

- Varanasi, known formerly as Kashi or Banaras is one of the holiest cities in India.Varanasi, the temple city of India, is regarded as the most sacred Hindu pilgrimage centre of India. Sprawling along the left bank of the holy river Ganga, Varanasi houses hundreds of temples, shrines and palaces, which appear like rising in several tiers from the water's edge. It is also a city of fairs and festivals, celebrating about 400 of them all round the year. Varanasi is also an important city for Buddhists as Lord Buddha preached his first sermon here. According to the historians, the temple city of Varanasi was founded about 3,000 years ago. The city is mentioned in Holy Scriptures like 'Vamana Purana', Buddhist texts and in the epic 'Mahabharata'. According to Hindu scriptures and religious beliefs Varanasi is the abode of the Hindu deity Lord Shiva. The life and activities in Varanasi centre on the holy river Ganges and its numerous Ghats- all having a Shiva lingam. Thousands of pilgrims coming from all corners of the country come down to the river to wait for the rising sun when immersion in the sacred river will cleanse them of their sufferings and wash their sins away. Everyone performs the rituals in his own unique way. Some bathe in the holy water; other take a dip, some drink the water; other make water offerings to the sun; while others fill their pots with holy water to take back to their homes to perform rituals and purification.

Vrindavan :

-Located at a distance of 15 km from Mathura in the state of Uttar Pradesh, Vrindavan is another major place of pilgrimage among the Hindus. Also known as Vrindaban, Brindavan, or Brindavana, or Brindaban, this holy place is the site of the original forest or forested region, in which Lord Krishna spent his childhood. It is believed that Lord Krishna was raised there in the cow-herding village of Gokula by His foster parents. Vrindavan is today famous for its numerous temples-both old and new. Considered to be the abode of Lord Krishna, it is one of India's holiest cities with more than 5000 temples dedicated to Lord Krishna.

Muslim Pilgrimage:

- "There is a polish for everything that takes away rust; and the polish for the heart is the remembrance of Allah." - Sahih al-Bukhari Muslim, the term means 'submission to the will of Allah' and Islam means 'peace, mercy, forgiveness and faith in one Allah, Who is above all, Who is eternal'. Being the second largest spread religion in the world, Islam is all about having faith in one God (Allah) and his several Messengers (Prophets), who spread the words of the Almighty. These words carry the whole essence of the beautiful world gifted by Allah, along with the preaching on how the mankind should lead its life. Further, those divine human souls who selflessly believe and practice the Islamic religion are known as Muslims.

The Five Pillars of Islam:

These pillars are basically the most important Muslim practices that draw the ground of Islam. Shahadah: reciting Kalima ( Faith on one God & His last Messanger) from the bottom of heart. Salat: reciting five times prayer each day. Zakat: doing charity for helping the poor and the needy. Sawm: fasting during the month of Ramadan. Hajj: pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in a lifetime. These practices are a must for every Muslim.

Prophets – The Messengers of Allah:

-A very important Prophet who not just brought the message of the Allah, but actually gave birth to the religion 'Islam' was "Prophet Muhammad". Complete name Abu al-Qasim Muhammad ibn 'Abd Allah ibn 'Abd al-Muttalib ibn Hashim, Prophet Muhammad was a man among the men.He was born in 570 at Mecca, Saudi Arabia and it is his life and deeds that defined Islam. In Muslims if there is any perfect ethical character, it is the Muhammadan character. He was very close to the economically poor people, and did everything that he could to help them out. Further, he led a very simple life, which was completely devoted for serving the human race and for worshiping Allah. Though Muhammad was the one who founded Islam, but he was not the only messenger of God, there were many more. As per Quran (the holy book of Muslims) Adam, Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses and Jesus and his apostles, all were Muslim prophets. The reason behind why these men (irrespective of their different religion) are regarded as God's holy Muslim messengers is because they devoted their entire life just for spreading the teachings of the almighty and even their deeds included the nitty-gritty of the five pillars of Islam (like praying, charity, fasting and pilgrimage).

Popular Muslim Pilgrimage Destinations in India:

-India being a nation that embraces vibrant colours of almost every religion is one of the best countries to experience Muslim pilgrimage. Although Mecca, which is located in Saudi Arabia, is regarded as the main pilgrimage site, India also has several pious Muslim destinations. Dargah Hazratbal in Jammu & Kashmir, Ajmer Sharif (The Dargah of Khwaja Moin-ud-din Chishti) in Ajmer and Haji Ali Dargah in Mumbai are the most popular Muslim pilgrimage destinations in India. Every year these Muslim pilgrimage sites are thronged with devotees. The best part is that it is not just Muslims who pay homage at these pious places, people from different religious backgrounds come and bow their head down. These destinations offer the visitor a peace they always wanted. Along with this, they also get a chance to connect with the history of Islam, which further enlightens their soul. Allow us to plan your Muslim pilgrimage in India, we understand and respect every religion and Islam is no exception. We provide the best Muslim pilgrimage tour packages that give you the delight of soaking in the true essence of the pious destinations. Our expert tour guides not just take you to the sites, but also make you understand the bona fide meaning of Muslim pilgrimage in India.

Buddhist Pilgrimage:

- Having more than 350 million followers around the world, Buddhism finds its origin some 2,500 years back. Being the fourth largest religion, it is also one of the oldest religions of the world. The originator of Buddhism was Siddhartha Gautama, who was the son of Suddhodana, a Kshatriya and the chief of the Shakya clan. Gautama Buddha or Shakyamuni primarily lived his life in the Gangetic plains of North India and Southern part of Nepal, hence, the most important Buddhist pilgrimage sites are also found over here. Buddha belonged to a royal family. He was born in a place called Lumbini, while his mother was on her way to her parents’ home. The holy place of Lumbini (located in present-day Nepal) is one of the four most sacred Buddhist pilgrimage destinations in the world; the other three being Bodh Gaya, Sarnath and Kushinagar. As per the historians, his duration of existence on earth is estimated between 566 to 486 BCE but as per a recent study, the period of his birth and death is presumed to be around 490 BCE to 410 BCE. Buddha's birth is celebrated as 'Buddha Poornima' in India as it is believed that the day of his birth was a full moon day.

Abandoning an affluent life:

- He lived in the lap of luxury, completely oblivious of the sufferings or hardships of life. At the age of 29, Siddhartha stepped out of his royal enclosure and encountered an old man, a sick man and a corpse. Getting a glimpse of the harsh realities of life made him restless and he began his search for a source of eternal happiness. He left his comfortable kingly life, a wife and a new born son to search for answers in the wilderness.

The Awakening:

- Siddhartha sought knowledge from the religious gurus of different religions, but they couldn't satisfy his curiosity. He started to tread the path of severe asceticism combined with meditation; still unable to find a way out of his doubts, he decided to follow a mid path which is neither tilted towards extreme poverty nor towards extreme luxury. Pursuing a midway, one day, sitting under the Bodhi tree, Siddhartha decided to meditate till he got enlightened. He reflected over his experiences; recalled his past lives, saw how the power of karma governs the cycle of death and rebirth and cleansed his mind of all worldly desires, attachments and baseness. Thus, after six years of rigorous wandering on land as well as in the depths of his inner self, Siddhartha Gautama attained enlightenment and also the name of Buddha (the awakened one). Bodh Gaya (Bihar) was the place where Buddha got enlightenment and began the journey of awakening the fellow beings. It is also the holiest place for Buddhist spread all around the globe. Buddha found his way to enlightenment and taught his followers not to accept his teachings blindly, but interpret them through their own understanding of themselves and life. Among the major Buddhist pilgrimages in India, Sarnath (near Varanasi) is the place where Buddha gave his first sermon. The religion of Buddhism developed out of one man's unquenchable thirst to find a way out from the miseries of life, to grasp the source of secret happiness which would never change, never stop, as it is discovered inside of one's own self. Buddha's parinirvana or freedom from earthly life occurred at Kushinagar (Uttar Pradesh), an important Buddhist pilgrimage destination. We offer customized Buddhist pilgrimage tour packages that meet your specifications. All you need to do is select a pious destination(s) and let us plan the pilgrimage for you. We will make sure that you enjoy a safe and happy pilgrimage to the most sought after Buddhist holy places. There are many schools of Buddhism, most popular being Hinayana Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism. But all of them endeavour to assist the followers on the way towards enlightenment. There are many popular Buddhist destinations in India listed below.

Rajgir:

- A beautiful city positioned in the Nalanda District in the state of Bihar, Rajgir entices the attention of the tourists from all over the globe. The place is enveloped by rocky hillocks and is placed in a valley. Moreover, the serene ambience of this place will refresh your mind and soul. It is the destination where Gautam Buddha is believed to have given many sermons and Lord Mahavir had lived here for some time. One can also explore Buddhist monks meditating at a site known as Vultures Peak. The knowledge of Buddha was written in this place and it also serves as the place for the first Buddhist Council. It is also a home to various Hindu and Jain temples. Not only this, it has water ponds which are deemed to have medicinal properties helping in the treatment of scores of skin diseases.

Sanchi:

-Sanchi is small village about 46 km from Bhopal, the capital city of Madhya Pradesh. It is one of the oldest pilgrimage points in India. The stature of Sanchi holds high credential in India, apart from being a highly devoted Buddhist pilgrimage point in India, it also offers as a synonym for the Buddhist architecture that flourished during the Kingship of Ashoka. There are a number of Stupas and monasteries that provides the affidavit for the glory days of Buddhism in India. The glorious Sanchi Stupa is believed to be the oldest stone structure in the world and is one of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in India.

Vaishali:

- A famed tourist destination in the Indian state of Bihar, Vaishali is deemed to be the embrace of people of two main religions of India which are Buddhism and Jainism. It is a small village that offers so many attractions that one must not give a miss during the tour to Vaishali. There are various places of Buddhist interest encompassing Ananda Stupa, Kutagarasala Vihara and relic Stupa. Moreover, heaps of Jains throng to this place every year as the place is said to be the home of Bhagwan Mahavira. One can also explore the very old architectural beauty in this village standing as evidence to era of yore.

Kapilvastu:

- At Kapilavastu, the Lord Gautama Buddha was grown up and led a family life with his wife and son Rahul till he left for Nirvana. The Ashoka Pillar situated at Kapilavastu marks the latter references about the place. This place is located in the Himalayan ranges of Nepal. Kapilavastu is the district and comes under Lumbini Zone, Nepal. The followers of Buddhism and the tourists want to observe the peace and enlightenment always prefer to visit the sacred place, which is engrossed by the Buddha's deep philosophy.

Kushinagar:

- A Religious pilgrimage centre in Kushinagar District in the beautiful state of Uttar Pradesh, Kushinagar is a place where Lord Buddha attained Nirvana. It is famous for numerous monasteries and stupas dating back years ago are almost in relics now. Many devotees flock to this place every year from all over the globe to explore what city has to offer to its guests. One can also pay a visit to many temples during the tour to Kushinagar for wholesome experiences. The much explored site of this beautiful town is Mahaparinirvana Stupa which is positioned above the location where Gautam Buddha is finally resting. So Plan your trip to this beautiful place and relish your delightful retreat.

Nalanda:

- A magnificent site of culture and learning, Nalanda is among the most popular religious centres of India. It was created in the 5th century and was the desired destination of Gautam Buddha and Lord Mahavir who stayed for many years. Having rich tradition and mores, this place has gained reputation worldwide. It is visited by folks to scout monasteries and very old monuments. It is indeed a fantastic destination for history lovers. The relics of the ancient university are the main appeal in the entire town of Nalanda. In addition to this, beautiful temples also represents the splendid past of Nalanda. One must not miss out on a place like this that carries great culture and history of the ancient times.

Sravasti :

- An ancient city connected with Buddha for scores of reasons, Sravasti is one of the major destinations of interest for Buddhists. There are many old structures and relics of Gautam Buddha's hut at Jetavana Monastery that one can explore on their tour to Sravasti. The traveller’s appeals in Sravasti chiefly exhibit the association of Lord Buddha to it. Moreover, tourists can scout Buddhist monks in here meditating under Bodhi tree at different monasteries. Oodles of monasteries from different nations have been constructed here and some of the countries are South Korea, Tibet and Thailand. Being a small town in the state of Uttar Pradesh, thousands of folks pay a visit to this place from all across the world.

Ajanta Ellora Caves:

- Celebrated as one of the best examples of rock cave architecture in India,Ajanta and Ellora Caves situated in the state of Maharashtra near Aurangabad are one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites and Seven Wonders of India. They are nestled at a distance of approx. more than 95 km from each other. Using only chisel and hammer Buddhist monks carved murals and sculptures depicting the life of Buddha. These are still considered as one of the most splendid work of Buddhist art in India. They are one of a kind of caves hewn into the Sahyadri Hills portraying the outstanding work of Ancient Indian artisans.

Bodh Gaya:

- Bodh Gaya is the ultimate destination for Buddhists followers and tourists. This is the place where the prince Siddhartha Gautama Buddha attained the supreme Enlightenment. He left his royal dynasty at the age of 29 years. Since then he wandered to various places and meditated for years to find solutions or remedies against the human sufferings and sorrow. Later, at Bodh Gaya, he was blessed with supreme enlightenment that answered his entire quests. People from all walks of life visit the place at least once in their lifetime. Though it is the sacred Buddhist pilgrimage, but people from across the globe visit the place to offer prayers and receive blessings. Bodh Gaya is the most significant place among Kushinagar, Sarnath and Lumbini. Planning a tour to Bodh Gaya will be a pleasurable experience for anybody.

Sarnath:

- 2,500 years ago, an enlightened saint (The Lord) gave his first preach or sermon to the world. The holy place where the Lord Buddha set the (Maha - Dharma - Chakra Pravartan) the "Wheel of Dharma" is Sarnath. This holy land is 10kms away from northeast of Varanasi. The followers and disciples present at the auspicious place on the day where considered first to learned about the path that ends sorrow, lead to inner peace, and ultimate Nirvana. The Lord Buddha in his first sermon, preached about the doctrine of Buddhism along with the four noble truths and eight fold paths at Sarnath. There are many attractions in Sarnath that one must visit for wholesome and pleasurable experience.

Sikh Pilgrimage:

-Sikhism, the youngest of the world religions, is barely five hundred years old. Its founder, Guru Nanak, was born in 1469. Guru Nanak spread a simple message of "Ek Ong Kar": we are all one, created by the One Creator of all Creation. This was at a time when India was being torn apart by castes, sectarianism, religious factions, and fanaticism. He aligned with no religion, and respected all religions. He expressed the reality that there is one God and many paths, and the Name of God is Truth, "Sat Nam". Guru Nanak's followers were Sikhs (seekers of truth). He taught them to bow only before God, and to link themselves to the Guru, the Light of Truth, who lives always in direct consciousness of God, experiencing no separation. Through words and example, the Guru demonstrates to followers how to experience God within themselves, bringing them from darkness into light. Guru Nanak was a humble bearer of this Light of Truth. He opposed superstition, injustice, and hypocrisy and inspired seekers by singing divine songs which touched the hearts of the most callous listeners. These songs were recorded, and formed the beginnings of the Sikhs' sacred writings, later to become the "Siri Guru Granth Sahib". His way of life: Nam Japa - To get up each day before sunrise, to clean the body, meditate on God's Name and recite the Guru's hymns to clean the mind. Throughout the day, continuously remember God's Name with every breath. Dharam di Kirat Karni - To work and earn by the sweat of the brow, to live a family way of life, and practice truthfulness and honesty in all dealings. Vand Ke Chakna - To share the fruits of one's labour with others before considering oneself. Thus, to live as an inspiration and a support to the entire community. The foundation of Sikhism was laid down by Guru Nanak. Guru Nanak infused his own consciousness into a disciple, who then became Guru, subsequently passing the light on to the next, and so on. The word "Guru" is derived from the root words "Gu", which means darkness or ignorance, and "Ru", which means light or knowledge The Guru is the experience of Truth (God). Each one of the ten Gurus represents a divine attribute: 1) Guru Nanak - Humility 2) Guru Angad - Obedience 3) Guru Amar Das — Equality 4) Guru Ram Das - Service 5) Guru Arjan - Self-Sacrifice 6) Guru Hargobind - Justice 7) Guru Har Rai - Mercy 8) Guru Harkrishan - Purity 9) Guru Tegh Bahadur - Tranquility 10) Guru Gobind Singh - Royal Courage. Guru Gobind Singh, the Tenth Guru, exemplified the Sikh ideal of the Soldier-Saint. He was also an inspired and prolific writer, courageous warrior, and a source of Divine Wisdom to his Sikhs. "When all other means have failed," he said, "only then is it righteous to take up the sword." He was the defender of the poor, the meek, and the oppressed masses of India. Some of the famous Sikh Pilgrimage Sites of India include;

Anandpur Sahab:

- Anandpur Sahib, the Holy City of Bliss, is about 95 km north-west of Chandigarh, Punjab. The city is located in the Rupnagar district (Roper) in the state of Punjab, India. It is nestled between the Shivalik hills in the east and Sutlej River at far west. Furthermore, this place is surrounded with vast green stretch that delivers calmness and spiritualism in its aroma. It is considered as the holiest place of Sikh religion where Shiri Guru Gobind Singh Ji spent 25 years of his life teaching and guiding his disciplines. "When the devotees visit the place they reach the Guru's Abode and blesses", this belief is observed by thousands of devotees visiting the shrine from the past many centuries.

Golden Temple, Amritsar:

- Enclosed by a lake with dazzling water, Golden Temple is located in a city of Amritsar. It was erected in 1574 by Guru Arjan, the first Sikh Martyr. Shiny with 750 kg of pure gold, pleasant ambience and the sanctified crystal clear water are some of appealing features of the golden temple - the most famous sacred temple of Sikh in Amritsar. It is indeed a standing beauty of harmony and purity. Also hailed as Shri Harmandir Sahib, the beautiful temple also possesses many other small shrines in its premises. Paying a visit to this superb formation of Sikh religion will enable the devotees to scout unparalleled peace and calmness and will take you through mysterious holiness and ecstasy. From morning to evening, one can listen to the prayers getting echoing within the premises of the shrine. All this creates a wonderful atmosphere that one will love to experience repeatedly.

Hemkund Sahab :

- Specially mentioned in the sacred Dasam Granth and Ramayana, Hemkund Sahib is a pilgrimage where a devotee feels blessed in the serene environment and experiences the divine vibrations of the pious area. Hemkund Sahib, located in Chamoli district, Uttarakhand, is a prominent Sikh pilgrimage in India. The worship area is cosseted by beautiful hills and each crest is referred as a holy Nishan Sahib. Therefore, due to its religious importance, devotees from all over the globe visit here every year.

Patna Sahab:

- One of the most religious pilgrimage sites in India, Patna Sahib has a great sacred significance that entices the devotees from all across the world. It is also dubbed as Takht Sri Patna Sahib and a home of Guru Gobind Singh Ji. One can visit here to experience holy enlightenment. The two most famous gurus - Guru Shri Nanak Dev Ji and Guru Tegh Bahadur Ji also paid a visit to this religious shrine. Situated on the banks of Ganga River in the beautiful city of Patna, It was erected by Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the first emperor of Punjab.

Christian Pilgrimage:

- Christianity is one of the religions that is not originated in India, but has a glorious relationship with the country and its people. The legend behind the introduction of Christianity in India states that in AD 52, St. Thomas sailed from Eastern Asia and was first to convert many Indians into Christians. After showing many miracles in Tamil Nadu and Kerala and evangelizing Indians, he is still worshiped as a martyred saint in Madras and was buried in the San Thomé Cathedral's site. In the earlier days, many Roman Catholic missionaries especially the Portuguese directed by the Jesuit Saint Francis Xavier entered the west coast from their bases in order to convert many natives to Christians. Starting from the eighteenth century, missionaries continued their work throughout the country and lead to the formation and growth of many Christian communities. Surprisingly, even today the undecayed body of Saint Francis Xavier is available for public view in a coffin made of glass that is placed in Goa at the Basilica of Bom Jesus. Starting from the eighteenth century to the present time, one can witness the growth of a variety of Christian communities.

Jesus Christ- The Central Figure Of Christianity

Christianity worships Jesus and regards him as the awaited Messiah of the Old Testament. Born in Bethlehem of Judea in 4.B.C, Jesus Christ lived as an ordinary carpenter in Nazareth until he turned 30. After that, he lived an active public life for almost three years. During those years, Jesus taught the people that God is a merciful Father and insisted people to show their love towards God by loving their fellowmen without any restriction or difference. With his exceptional preaching, he became a revolutionary figure for many Jewish religious leaders.

The Bible- The Holy Book Of the Christians

The holy book of the Christians, Bible is believed to be written under the inspiration and guidance of God. It has two main parts i.e. "The Old Testament" and "The New Testament". The Old Testament has 46 books within it and presents the beliefs of the early Christian church. It also provides the detailed history of Jewish people who lived approximately 2000 years before Christ. On the other hand, The New Testament has 27 books in it and presents the preaching and life of Jesus Christ, his death and rebirth, the escalation of Christianity in the early years along with Apostles' message sent to different churches.

Christian Pilgrimage Destinations in India

There are many ancient churches located all over India, particularly in South India which are famous for their exceptional architectural designs. Most of them depict a fusion of British and European architecture. Some of the popular Christian pilgrimage destinations in India are; -St. Thomas Cathedral at Mylapore in Chennai. -The Church of Our Lady of Health at Vailankanni on the coastal line east of Tanjavur Tamil Nadu. - St Xavier’s shrine at Bom Jesus Chruch at Old Goa. - The Church of Our Lady of the Rosary at Bande in north of Calcutta - The Church of Our Lady at Sardhana near Meerut in western Uttar Pradesh - The Church of Our Lady of Mount in Mumbai. - The Shrine of St. Theresa of Avila at Mahe close to Tellicherry in North Kerala - The Shrine of St.Xavier at Kottar just north of Kanyakumari. In addition to these, there are many other Christian pilgrimage sites in India. Plan your Christian Pilgrimage Tour in India with us! We respect your spirituality and religious sentiments. Keeping your faith and love towards Jesus, we offer some of the best Christian pilgrimage tour packages that can help you in connecting with your God and feeling its presence in this materialistic world. Our main objective behind offering this highly exceptional service is to make our contribution in boosting Christian pilgrimage tourism in India and help individuals in having a deep understanding of Christianity.

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