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Hinduism Religious Places

Religious Places India is one of the most religiously diverse nations in the world, with some of the most deeply religious societies and cultures. The country has one of the oldest continuously operating pilgrimage traditions in the world. The practice of pilgrimages is deeply entrenched in the Indian psyche and the number of pilgrimage sites are very large. Thus, the subcontinent may be considered as a continuous sacred space.

Rig Veda and Atharva Veda are the earliest source of information regarding pilgrimages. These sacred texts have reverently mentioned about travel to mountain valleys and the confluences of rivers and the merits obtained from such travels.

As time elapsed, the number of pilgrimage sites and their importance increased. Now, religious pilgrimages are considered to be an essential aspect of every individual's life. Let us get to know few of the important religious places of India region wise :


Amarnath Temple One of the holy shrines of the Hindus and located in the state of Jammu and Kashmir is the Amarnath. The Amarnath Cave is considered to be the abode of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. The Amarnath Yatra, for which one has to trek at a height of about 14,500 ft from the sea level, starts from the base village Bailganv (Pahalgam) and usually takes place in the Hindu month of Shravan (July-August). In the seat of Lord Amarnath, the image of Shiva, in the form of a lingam, gets formed of ice every year. By its side are two more ice-lingams, considered to be that of Parvati, and their son, Ganesha. The climatic conditions of the region are very uncertain because rain or snowfall may take place at any time during the Yatra. Even then there is no stopping the thousands of devotees from flocking to this God's abode with full thrill and joy. One will always feel his presence on this paradise of the Earth, surrounded by beautiful valleys, mountains and snow.


Badrinath Badrinath is a Hindu holy town in Uttaranchal, India and considered to be the most important of the four sites in India's Chardham pilgrimage. It is an important destination on the sacred itinerary of every devout Hindu. It has been emphasized in the ancient scriptures that there are many sacred spots of pilgrimage in the Earth, Heaven and the Nether world, but there has been none equal to Badri nor there shall be. The significance of this place is that it is considered to be the seat of the God Vishnu in his aspect of Badrinarayana. The prime sites in this area are Badrinath Temple, Tapt Kund, Brahma Kapal, Charanpaduka, Sheshnetra, Neelkantha. Another important religious attraction at Badrinath is the Badrinath Temple which is considered as the abode of Lord Vishnu and is situated at 3,124 meters above sea level in the Himalayas. The temple has three parts - Garbha Grih (The Sanctum Sanctorum), Darshan Mandap (for pujas) and Sabha Mandap (for devotees to assemble). At the backdrop is the Neelkanth mountain peak situated between twin peaks named Nar and Narayan. The Badrinath temple was built by the Gharwal kings.

The temple is more than two centuries old. It is believed that Lord Vishnu came to the area, called 'Badri Van', or the berry garden, to meditate after Narad rebuked the Lord for being immersed in worldly pleasures. The main idol in the temple is that of Lord Vishnu in the form of a black stone. Lord Vishnu is in a meditative stance with both hands on his lap. The sacred river Alaknanda flows by the temple. The holy river Alaknanda is fed by the Badrinath glaciers and the Holy Ganges. The temple of Badrinathji is five meters high, it is built in the form of a cone with a small coupla of a gilt bull and spire. The temple opens every year in the month of April-May and closes for winters in the third week of November. At one time the spot was covered with wild berries ("badris") and was famous as the "Badri Van" (the garden of wild berries). Facing the temple at the bank of Alaknanda River is "Tapt Kund"a hot water spring, a bath in this spring is a very refreshing experience for the travelers. It is believed to be a reliever from many diseases.

Places of Interest
The nearby places of interest are the Panch Badri namely :

Yog Dhyan Badri
The temple of Yog dhyan Badri, one of the five Badris. It is located at Pandukeshwar. The location is just 24 km short from Badrinath on the Rishikesh Badrinath highway. The image, worshipped here is that of the Lord in a meditative posture. It is believed that the Pandavas settled here after handing over Hastinapur to king Parikshit.

Bhavishya Badri
Bhavishya Badri is located at Subain near Tapovan, about 17kms. east of Joshimath on Joshimath - Lata Malari route. Pilgrims have to trek beyond Tapovan, up the Dhauliganga river. The temple of Bhavishya Badri is at an elevation 3641mts., and is surrounded by dense forests. It is believed that one day the route to Badrinath temple will become inaccessible and then Lord Badrinath will be worshipped here. Hence this place is rightly called Bhavishya Badri meaning the future Badri.

Adi Badri
Adi Badri is believed to be the ancient aboard of Bhagwan Badrinath. The Idol worshiped here is a black stone depicting Lord Vishnu. This place is approachable from Karnprayag by a motorable road on the way to Ranikhet. There are 16 small ancient temples, 7 among them belong to the late Gupta period. The credit for building these temples is given to Shankaracharya. The main temple of Lord Narayan is situated on a raised platform in the pyramidal form where the idol is enshrined. The idol of Lord Vishnu is a meter high. Adi Badri is considered as the emerging source of river Saraswati.

Vriddha Badri
The idol placed here is known as vriddha old or the first Badri and the temple remains open throughout the year. It is situated at an altitude of 1380mts. and at a distance of 7kms. from Joshimath. The idol of Badrinath was enshrined and worshiped here before the advent of Adi Guru Shankaracharya.

Things to remember
  • The Badrinath temple remains closed during winter and is open from April to November
  • One may carry light woolen between June - September
  • One should carry heavy woolen between October - November
  • Languages spoken - Hindi, English and Garwali

The other nearby places to visit are :

  • Panchshilas
  • Panchdharas
  • Mata murty temple
  • Mana Village
  • Vasudhara
  • Bhim Pul
  • Vyas GutaYogadhyan Badri
  • Alkapuri
  • Satopnath Swargarohan Parbat

Chamunda Devi

Chamunda Devi Chamunda Devi is revered as a Shakti shrine, situated 10 km west of Palampur located in the state of Himachal Pradesh. This is the place where the Demons Chand and Mund came to conquer Devi Mahakali and during the fight, the Devi cut their heads. The heads were then presented to Maa Ambika, who in turn told Mahakali that She will be worshipped as Chamunda Devi. This Sidhapeeth has now become a place where saints and priests pray amidst natural surroundings. Since this colorful shrine has a wrathful form of Chamunda or Mahakali, it is considered to be very sacred. The idol in the temple is completely hidden beneath a red cloth and it is believed that here Lord Shiva is present in the form of death, destruction and dead bodies along with Chamunda Devi. Devotees flock to this temple to offer prayers, worship and give offerings for their ancestors.

Chintpurni, Una

Chintpurni,Una Chintpurni in the Una District of Himachal Pradesh is famous for Mata Chintpurni Devi Temple. The Chintpurni Temple besides having the idols of Mata Shri Chhinnamastika Devi and Mata Shri Chintpurni Devi also has the idol of Chhina Mastaka, the killer of the demon Nishumbha. This temple is revered by the Hindus in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh and it is believed that the Goddess Chintpurni is the remover of all troubles. The devotees bring with them their worldly concerns and seek blessings from the Devi. It is said that if you ask something from the Devi with a true heart, your wish will be fulfilled. Devotees have been visiting this Shaktipeeth for hundreds of years to pray at the lotus feet of both the Devis. Though the temple is open all round the year, the best time to visit it is during the 10-day fair held every year in the month of August.


Haridwar According to Hindus, Haridwar in Uttaranchal is one of the holiest places in the country where it is believed that the Devas have left their footprints on Earth. Literally meaning Gateway to God, Haridwar represents the gateway to the Himalayan pilgrimage shrines of Badrinath and Kedarnath and it is the the point where the Ganga reaches the plains. The main ghat at Haridwar is known as Hari-ki-Pauri which is renowned for a footprint of Vishnu on a stone in a wall. There are five sacred bathing spots in Haridwar known as Gangadwara, Kankhal, Nila Parvata, Bilwa Theertha and Kusavarta. The Ganga aarti which takes place every evening is a spectacular sight. The aarti ceremony is performed at all temples in Haridwar at the same time. There is the Gangadwara temple nearby which is considered to be the most important of the several temples that are within this town. Haridwar is also known by other names as Gangadwar, Mokshadwar, Tapovan and Mayapuri while its ancient name was Kapilasthan. The Kumbh Mela and the Ardh Kumbh Mela also take place in this ancient town every 12 th and 6th year, respectively. Near Haridwar are the towns of Mayapuri and Kankhal and Kankhal is famous for the famous Daksheswara temple.

Jwalaji, Kangra

Jwalaji, Kangra Jwalaji in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh is well-known for the famous Jwalaji Temple which is one of the fifty-one Shakti Peeths in the country. It is said that when, Sati, the consort of Lord Shiva, killed herself by jumping in the sacrificial fire when her father Daksha Prajapati insulted her husband, an enraged Shiva started roaming the entire universe with the body of Sati in his arms. His movement created havoc and imbalance in the Universe. To calm down the anger of Shiva, Lord Vishnu dismembered the dead body of Sati and various parts of the body fell at 51 different places in India which later on became sacred as Shakti Peeths. It is believed that Sati's tongue had fallen at the very place where Jwalaji Temple is now situated. The tongue of Sati is represented by Jwala (Holy Flame) that is perpetually burning. The flames come out from nine different rocks in the temple. It is said that the Pandavas have visited this sacred place. Even Emperor Akbar paid yearly visit to this Temple after he became impressed with the holy flames that kept burning even after he had put a massive chhatra (canopy) over it to extinguish the flame. The climat of this region is quite moderate with cool but pleasant winters and warm summers.


Kedarnath Kedarnath is a Hindu holy town located in the the Indian state of Uttaranchal. The place is located at an altitude of 3,584 m and at the origin of the river Mandakini, the temple of Kedarnath is the most venerated place for Hindu pilgrims. Amidst the dramatic mountain scapes of the majestic Kedarnath range stands one of the twelve 'Jyotirlingas' of Kedar or Lord Shiva. Kedarnath hosts one of the holiest Hindu temples and is a popular destination for Hindu pilgrims from all over the world. The place is accessible after a steep 13 km trek over a paved path from Gaurikund. Rishikesh, Haridwar, Dehradun are well connected to Gaurikund by road. There are different places on the route like- Rambara, Janglechatti and Garurchatti, where one can spend some time while trekking or can even spend a night as a halting station. There is a high and beautiful cascading waterfall just one kilometer before Rambara. The main attraction at Kedarnath is the Kedarnath Jyotirlinga Temple, which is one of the Panch Kendras located in the Himalayas, at the source of the Mandakani river. It is about 120000 feet above the sea level. One can get a glimpse of the God when traveling by foot. The picture perfect setting with breathtaking scenic beauty transforms it in a heaven. Perpetually covered with snow, the place is best accessible from May to October except the Monsoon.

The credit for the construction of this heavenly temple is given to the Pandavas. The entrance starts with the statue of Nandi, the divine bull of Shiva. Fine & detailed carvings exhibiting images can be seen on the walls inside. The shiva lingam is in the form of a pyramid. The Kedar dome peak is located exactly behind the temple. It can be viewed from great distance as well. The temple is located on the Rudra Himalaya range, also known as the Pancha Parvata. It is believed that four of the Pandavas died on one of the peaks, Swargarohini.

The holy statue of Shiva is carried from Garhwal (Kedarkhand) to Ukhnimath in November which is then restablished at Kedarnath in the first week of May. The doors of the temple are now thrown open to pilgrims.

Mythology states that the deity of Kedarnath temple is identified with the rump of a bull. Shiva had camouflaged himself while eluding the Pandavas, who had come to repent for killing their kith and kin, during the battle of Kurukshetra. Shiva dived into the ground, thus, leaving a hump on the surface. This very conical projection is worshipped till now.

The temple is open only during the months of May to October, due to heavy snowfall and extreme cold weather during winter. The origin of this revered temple is mentioned in the great epic-Mahabharata. According to the saying it is believed that the Pandavas came to Lord Shiva to seek blessings to atone their sins after the battle of Mahabharata. Lord Shiva evaded them continuously and took refuge in Kedarnath in the form of a Bull. On being chased, Lord Shiva left his hump behind. This conical protusion is worshiped in the temple. During the winters, the shrine is submerged in snow and hence is closed. The ideal time to visit is between May to October. The remaining portions of Lord Shiva are worshiped at four other places like-
  • The arms {baahu} - at Tungnath
  • The mouth {mukh} - at Rudranath
  • The hair {jata} - at Kapleshwar

Things to remember

  • The best season to visit is May to October except monsoon
  • One may carry light woolens in summer and must carry heavy woolens in winter
  • The colloquial Language in use are Hindi, Garhwali and English
  • The nearest airport is Jolly Grant, Dehradun (251 kms.)
  • The nearest railway stations are Rishikesh (234 kms.) Kotdwar (260 kms.)
  • The walking route starts from Gaurikund which is connected by road to Rishikesh, Kotdwar, Dehradun, Haridwar and other important hill stations of Garhwal and Kumaon region
  • There are halting stations like Dharamshalas, Ashrams, Cottages and Tourist Rest House for comfortable stay

There are some important fairs that are organized at Kedarnath anually like :

  • Nagnath (Feb.)
  • Sardotsava, Joshimath (Feb.)
  • Sardotsava Chamoli, Gopeshwar (Feb. - Mar.)
  • Shivaratri, Gopeshwar (Feb. - Mar.)
  • Nanda Devi, Nauti (Mar.)
  • Maithan, Maithan (Mar.)
  • Bishwat Sankranti, Karnaprayag
  • Nandprayag (April)
  • Bikhot, Agastyamuni (April)
  • Nautha, Adi Badri (May)
  • Kaviltha, Kaviltha (Jun.)
  • Naumi, Jasoli Haryali (Aug.)
  • Bhaikhal, Mela, Bhaikhaltal (Aug.)


Mathura Considered to be the birth place of Lord Krishna, Mathura, a small town on the River Yamuna in the state of Uttar Pradesh, is an important place of pilgrimage in the country. Krishna is supposed to be the best known, best loved and most complex of Lord Vishnu's manifestations. It is a place of temples and shrines bustling with the thousands of devotees who come to visit this place of Lord Krishna. There is the splendid temple at the Katra Keshav Dev which marks the spot believed to be Shri Krishna Janmasthan by his devotees. There is another beautiful shrine, the Gita Mandir, on the Mathura-Vrindavan Road which has a fine image of Shri Krishna in its sanctum. The whole of the Bhagwad Gita is inscribed on the walls of this temple. Another most popular shrine at Mathura is the Dwarikadhish Temple to the north of the town. Vishram Ghat is the most important of all the 25 ghats in Mathura today. It is believed that Shri Krishna took his rest here after killing Kansa. The aarti held at the Vishram Ghat is a spectacular sight. It is also said that no pilgrimage to Mathura is complete without a visit to its kunds. According to tradition, there were 159 ancient kunds in all. Of these only four can be seen. These are the Shiv Tal Kund, Potara Kund , Balbhadra Kund and Saraswati Kund. The town has also a number of Shaivite temples.


Prayag Prayag is situated at the confluence of holy rivers Ganga and Yamuna in Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh and Indian mythology states that the invisible Saraswati river also joins here. Hence, it is also called Sangam and is said to have soul cleansing powers. Prayag is considered to be one of the ancient pilgrimage centers of India and is revered in the hymns of the Rig Veda. Tradition regards this region between the Ganga and the Yamuna as the most fertile region on earth. Sangam draws pilgrims from all over the world round the year but especially at the time of the Maha Kumbh Mela. Millions of devotees bathe ritually in the waters to break the eternal cycle of reincarnation. The most famous temples of Prayag are the Hanuman temple, Saraswati Ghat and Patalpuri Temple.


Rishikesh Located in the Tehri-Garhwal region of Uttar Pradesh, Rishikesh represents the Gateway to the Himalayas. It is small town, renowned as an important pilgrimage center of the country. The town abounds in natural splendour and the sight of the Ganga rushing through the Himalayan foothills is awesome. There are several temples on the banks of the Ganga at Rishikesh. It is believed that Rishikesh represents the site where Vishnu vanquished the demon Madhu. In Tapovan, on the other side of the Ganges, is a temple to Lakshmana. The Lakshman Jhula at Rishikesh is a 450 feet long suspension bridge was built in 1939. There is a newer bridge which has been added recently - the Ram Jhula. Another commanding spectacular view of the region is the Nilkanth Mahadeo temple at a height of about 5000 feet, 12 km away from Rishikesh. Rishikesh is not only popular for its religious significance but also considered to be a base for devotees on their journey to the Char Dham Yatra (tour of four pilgrim sites). The freshness of the air, sound of flowing water, the scenic beauty, the distant sound of bells create an unforgettable experience for those that visit this ancient town.


Uttarkashi Uttarkashi is an important pilgrimage center of the country located in the Garhwal region of the state of Uttaranchal. Situated at a distance of 145 kms from Rishikesh and at an elevation of 1158 meters on the banks of river Bhagirathi, this ancient town is the gateway to the pilgrim route to Gangotri and Yamunotri. Uttarkashi also holds the grace of having the origin of rivers Ganga and Yamuna. It is also known as the "Devbhumi" (The land of gods and goddesses). Uttarkashi is known for its temples dedicated to Parshurama, Annapurna, Devi, Datatryea, Kali Bhairon and other gods and goddesses. The climate of Uttarkashi is cold in winters and pleasant in summers. Not only the place an important religious center but also with its charming valleys, natural lakes, fountains and beauteous landscapes, ridges and mountains with snow-capped peaks makes the district an utmost attraction for the tourists, the pilgrims and for those having a zeal for adventures of trekking and mountaineering.

Vaishno Devi

Vaishno Devi Vaishno Devi is one of the most important pilgrimage centers of the country. It is located in the mighty Trikuta mountain, 61 kilometers north of Jammu at a height of 5,200 feet above the sea level in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. According to legend, more than 700 years ago Vaishno Devi a devotee of Lord Vishnu had taken vow of celibacy but Bhairon Nath, a "tantric" (demon-God) tried to behold Her and chased her towards the Trikuta mountains. It took Bhairon nine months to locate Her inside the cave known as Garbh Joon. Mata Vaishno Devi blasted an opening at the other end of the cave and on arriving at the Holy Cave at Darbar, she assumed the form of Maha Kali and thereby cut off Bhairon Nath's head. The head then flung up the mountain by the force of the blow and fell at the place where now the Bhairon Temple is located. It is a common belief among the devotees that Maa Vaishno sends a "call' to her devotees and whoever receives it, wherever he or she is, marches towards the holy shrine. It seems there is a supernatural power which seems to draw them through the mountain and they climb up those great heights, chanting "Prem se bolo, Jai Mata Di". There are images of three deities inside the cave-The Mahakali, Maa Saraswati and Maha Lakshmi. The shrine of Vaishno Devi is flocked every year by thousands of pilgrims.


Varanasi Varanasi also known as Benares, Banaras, or Benaras or Kashi is a renowned Hindu holy city situated on the banks of the river Ganges in the state of Uttar Pradesh. According to legends, the city was founded by Hindu god Shiva, and hence it is one of the most important pilgrimage destinations in the country. In fact, it is considered to be one of the seven sacred cities of Hindus where more than 1,000,000 pilgrims visit each year. There are large number of temples in the city. The most important one is the Kashi Vishwanath Temple (an aspect of Lord Shiva) which is one of the 12 revered Jyotirlingas of the Lord Shiva. There is also the red coloured Durga Temple accompanied by a rectangular tank of water called Durga Kund. There is the Birla Temple built as a replica of the old Kashi Vishwanath Temple. According to a popular belief, this city is one of the Shakti Peeths where Divine Mother Sati's earring fell and therein stands the present Vishalakshi Temple. Some says that it is one of the four pilgrimage sites designated by Gautama Buddha. It is also a pilgrimage place for Jains as it is said to be the birthplace of Parshvanatha, the 23rd Tirthankar. Vaishnavism and Shaivism have co-existed in this holy place harmoniously. This place is so sacred that there is a belief that people dying in the holy city of Varanasi circumvents rebirth and attains salvation.


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. Some of the notable ones are The Madan Mohan Temple located near the Kali Ghat, the oldest existent temple in Vrindavan today. The Banke-Bihari Temple is another popular shrine at Vrindavan. The famous Radha Vallabh Temple has the crown of Radha-Rani placed next to the Shri Krishna idol in the sanctum. The Jaipur Temple is a richly embellished and opulent temple. There is also the Shahji Temple where the idols at the temple are popularly known as the Chhote Radha Raman. Considered to be the abode of Lord Krishna, it is one of India's most holiest cities with more than 5000 temples dedicated to Lord Krishna.

Kamkhaya, Guwahati

 Kamakhya, known for the famous Kamakhya Temple, is located on a hill called the Neelachala Parvat near the city of Guwahati in Assam. This temple is one of the most revered Shakti shrines in India.

According to legend, it is regarded as one of the 51 Shakti Peeths associated with Devi Sati (first wife of Lord Shiva). It is believed that her female genitalia or 'Yoni' fell on the spot where the Kamakhya temple stands today, thereby forming one of the many Shakti Peeths embellishing the rest of the body parts of Goddess Sati or Kamakhya. There is no idol in the temple. Within a corner of a cave in the temple, there is a large block of granite, considered to be the Yoni of the Goddess, which is the object of reverence. On this stone, sindoor (vermillion) is scattered and a natural spring keeps the stone moist.

A unique festival observed in the Kamakhya Temple is the Ambubashi Mela wherein it is believed that the mother Earth undergoes her menstrual period. This place is visited by hundreds of devotees during the Mela. The Kamakhya Temple is one of the most astounding structures in the whole of India.


 Located in the state of Orissa, Puri is an important pilgrimage center, enshrining the famous Jagannatha Temple. Infact, Puri is the forerunner of the Jagannatha cult in Orissa, with the flowering of several temples dedicated to Jagannath all over the state. Shri Jagannatha Temple is an ancient shrine, enshrining Lord Krishna or Jagannatha in the form of a wooden image. There are also wooden images of Balabhadra and Subhadra, brother and sister of Krishna, respectively. The Jagannatha Temple dates back to the 12th century and is situated in a huge complex. This temple is about 200 feet high and dominates the Puri skyline. This complex contains about 120 temples and shrines.

Puri is famous for its "Rath Yatra" held once in every year in the month of June-July. This temple of Lord Jagannatha at Puri is considered to be one of the most sacred pilgrimage spots in India - one of the four dhamas (abodes) of the divine lying on the four directions of the compass.


Dwarkadheesh Dwarka, located in the state of Gujarat, is revered as one of the Chardhams (the four most scared pilgrimage centers) of India and is associated with Lord Krishna's life. Renowned in myth and legend, the city of Dwarka was once the capital of Lord Krishna's empire and it is believed that he had settled there after leaving Mathura, thousands of years ago. According to the epic Mahabharata, when the Lord finally abandoned his body, the holy city was submerged by the sea. The entire city was revealed by marine excavations and like its ancient counterpart, today Dwarka stands poised on the edge of the Kutchh peninsula, facing the Arabian sea and the gateway to western India.

The majestic Dwarkadhish Temple (Jagat Mandir) at Dwarka is one of the most imposing structures of Hindu architecture on the confluence of river Gomti and the Arabian Sea. This is a five-storey high temple, built on seventy-two pillars. It is said that Vajranabha (Lord Krishna's grandson) built the original temple of Dwarkadhish over the Hari-griha (Lord Krishna's residential palace). There are two entrances to the Dwarkadhish temple - the north entrance (main entrance) is called "Moksha Dwara" (Door to Salvation) and the south entrance is called "Swarga Dwara" (Gate to Heaven).

Dwarka is also famous for The Sharada Peetha-one of the four Mathas established by Jagatguru AdiShankaracharya. The Peetha has an educational society, an arts college and a Sanskrit Academy, which prepares scholars for doctorates in Sanskrit and Indology.



 Ujjain in the state of Madhya Pradesh is known for the famous Mahakaleswar Temple which is among the 12 celebrated Jyotirlingas in India. The Mahakaleshwar temple is located near a lake and has five levels, one of which is underground. Brass lamps light the way to the underground sanctum of the temple. The glory of this temple has been vividly described in various puranas. The lingam at the Mahakal is believed to be "Swayambhu" (born of itself), deriving "Shakti" (power) from within itself as against the other lingams which are ritually established and invested with mantra-shakti. The idol of Mahakaleshwar is known to be Dakshinamurti (facing the South). The idols of Ganesha, Parvati and Kartikeya are installed in the west, north and east of the sanctum sanctorum. The idol of Nagchandreshwar is open for darshan only on the day of Nagpanchami. On Mahashivaratri, there takes place a huge fair near the temple, and worship goes on throughout the night. The Mahakal dominates the life of the people and the city so much that even in the midst of the busy routine of everyday preoccupations, it provides an unbreakable link with past traditions.


Pandharpur A small town called Pandharpur in the district of Solapur in Maharashtra is one of the most respected Vitthala (Krishna) pilgrimage sites of the country. Pandharpur is the abode of the famous Lord Vitthala also known as Panduranga, Pandhari or Vithoba enshrined in the Vithoba temple. This temple is the greatest center of attraction in Pandharpur for the masses as far as the spiritual field goes. This temple has a total of six gates and covers a large area.

Pandharpur hosts four "Yatras" in a year. The "Aashadhi Yatra" is the one which attracts most pilgrims (around 0.5 to 0.7 million) to Pandharpur every year. Devotees take holy bath in river Bhima and usually stand in long queues in order to take "Darshana" of Lord Vitthala. The second important yatra is "Kartiki". The huge crowds that accompany the palanquins of the various saints to Pandharpur gives a clear image of the popularity of Vithoba in the region.


Shirdi A small town in the Ahmednagar district of Maharashtra, Shirdi is an important place for every religion. It is said that Sri Sai Baba, a personification of spiritual perfection and an epitome of compassion, lived in Shirdi for 60 years. Pilgrims belonging to all faiths throng to this holy place all the year around. There are many religious spots in and around Shirdi, all dedicated to Sai Baba. The Shirdi Saibaba Temple attracts millions of devotees of all religions, castes and creed who come to pay homage to Shri Sai Baba. The famous Samadhi Mandir is a beautiful shrine that was built over the Samadhi of Shri Sai Baba. Just behind the Samadhi is Sai Baba's statue made of Italian marble which shows him seated on a throne. Dwarkamai is situated on the right side of the entrance of Samadhi Mandir and it is said that Baba stayed at Dwarkamai till the very end of his life and it was here he solved problems of the people, cured their sickness and worries. Gurusthan is the name given to the place where Sai Baba was first spotted seated under a Neem tree which was later converted to a temple. At a short distance from there lies Baba's Chavadi where he used to sleep every alternate day. At some distance from Gurustahan there is a Lendi Baug (garden) which is said to have been planted by Sai Baba and watered daily by Baba himself.


Triambakeshwar Tryambakeshwar is revered as one of the 12 Jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva, located at a distance of about 30 kms from Nasik, Maharashtra. It is said that Tryambakeshwar is the source of the river Godavari. It is also known by other names like Trimbak or Trimbakeshwar or Triambakeshwar or Triyambakeshwar.

The Tryambakeshwar Temple is an ancient Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Shiva. The extraordinary feature of the Jyotirlinga located here is that it has three faces embodying the images of Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva. The entire black stone temple is known for its appealing architecture and sculpture. This place is also famous for lots of religious "vidhis" (rituals) like Narayan-Nagbali, Kalsarpa Shanti, Tripindi vidhi etc. Narayan-Nagbalipuja is performed at this temple only. It is a sacred puja to fulfill all your desires and is performed in three days. Trimabakeshwar also has good number of Brahmin houses and is also a center for Vedic Gurukuls. It also has Ashrams and Muths devoted to "Ashtanga Yoga" (the Hindu art of Living). The place is well-known for its scenic beauty in rainy season and is surrounded by unpolluted lush green hills.


Kanchipuram Kanchipuram/Kanchi is located in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and considered to be one of the India's Seven Sacred places. This place is the second holiest place after Varanasi. It is a temple town dedicated to lord Shiva and originally was the historical capital of the Pallavas. There are several magnificent ancient temples of unique architectural beauty in Kanchi. The most notable one is the Ekambaranatha Temple which is one of the five form of abodes of Lord Shiva. Kamakshi Amman Temple, Varadharaja Perumal Temple, Kumara Kottam, Kachapeshwarar Temple, Kailasanathar Temple are other famous temples of the region of Kanchi. Considered to be the "Golden city of Thousand Temples" and the seat of Shankarcharya, Kanchipuram is visited by thousands of devotees every year from all parts of the country. The teachings of AdiShankaracharya (spiritual teacher) are studied at and propagated by the Shankaracharya Muth and the headquarters of the "Muth" is situated at Kanchipuram.


Rameshwaram Rameswaram, situated about 164 kilometers south-east of Madurai, Tamil Nadu is considered as one of the "Chardhams" (the four most scared pilgrimage centers) by the Hindus. It is an important pilgrim center, famous for the Hindu temple dedicated to Lord Rama and it is believed that Lord Rama descended on its shores and built a bridge across the Palk Strait to reach Lanka in his search to rescue Sita from Ravana.

The temple is also famous for being one of the 12 Jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva, called the Ramalingam which was built Lord Rama to offer thanks to the Lord after killing Ravana. This holy city is an island paradise of golden sand. Devotees consider Rameswaram as the Varanasi of the south and devotees bathe in the sea. Rameswaram temple is known for its long corridors and towers and 36 Theerthams. Rameswaram is one of the most sacred towns of India, well known for its temple corridor - the longest in India, the Bathing Ghat, Ganthamathana Parvatham, Kothandaramar temple, Kurusadai and other nearby temples.


Tirupati Located in the foot hills of Tirumala, Tirupati is a famous temple town in Chittoor District of Andhra Pradesh. It is the richest shrine in the Hindu world and the second busiest and richest religious centre in the world after the Vatican. Every year more than 12 million people visit this temple both from India and abroad. Tirupati Temple is the abode of Lord Venkateshwara (one of the incarnations of Lord Vishnu). Tirumala has seven hills which represents the seven heads of a huge serpent, called Sesha Saye, on which Lord Vishnu resides. The black idol of Lord Vishnu or Balaji is covered in gold, jewellery and precious ornaments and is 2 metres high. It is believed that any wish expressed before this image of the Lord will always be granted. Worship at the temple begins in early morning hours before dawn, with "Suprabhatham" when Lord Venkateswara is woken from his rest. This morning ritual is an unforgettable experience as the hundreds of oil lamps light up the sanctum and the majesty of the image decked in glittering ornaments is seen.