India - the land of gods and diverse religions where lies the serenity of its heritage. India is a country, where its historical monuments and beautiful temples portray its architectural legacy. India as a confluence of different religions has always attracted pilgrims from all over the world. India is home to many religions like Hinduism, Christianity, Sikhism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Islam and all of them have their important places of worship.
India, often called the 'Dev Bhumi' or the abode of the gods, every inch of this land is heavily steeped in mythology and every glade has its own legend. India is covered with holy sites associated with the exploits of the gods, the waters of sacred rivers or the presence of holy men. Millions of people have been traversing its length and breadth to reach these centers of worship. In this land of diversity, the journey to these holy places has been the main form of interaction between people from different parts of the country. Carrying on this long tradition, pilgrimage tours in the country today have attained unprecedented levels. The pilgrimage tours in India that we offer are aimed at giving you enough religious exposure of mysterious land by visiting its exotic temples, shrines and monasteries in and across the land!!!
All mankind needs purification of the body, mind and the soul. To achieve the same pilgrimage holidays have been designed. The secularism of India and the variety of religions followed by the people of the country are amazing. The faith reflected in the chanting of 'Om', 'Budhham Sharanam Gachhami' and 'Wahe Guru' all reminds us of the Almighty and focus on the gospel of peace and love for humanity. Being a country of the pious, India is dotted with pilgrimages. Thus, Pilgrimage tourism in India is extremely popular. Great religions like Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism have originated on the Indian soil. The unity in diversity is the keyword for the grand country. The Hindus flock to take a dip in the holy rivers, the Sikhs walk up to a height of 4329 meters through the difficult terrain to reach the Hemkunt Sahib. The cradle of Buddhism, devotees from the world over frequent the holy city of Sarnath.
Haridwar, or the door to God, at the foothills of Shivaliks, is a pilgrim destination for the Hindus. The Aarti held every evening at the Har-ki-pauri, with innumerable floating Dias and flowers is a must for all, something not to be missed. The Yatra to the char-Dhams comprise visit to holy places of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri. The char Dhaam Yatra is a major attraction for tourism in India. Rishikesh, in the laps of the Himalayas happens to be the common point for all the four pilgrim spots besides being sacred itself. It happens to be a great site for rafting and trekking as well. Thus, devotes as well as the adventurers flock to Rishikesh. The sources of the two most sacred rivers of India Ganga and Yamuna, Gangotri and Yamunotri are amongst the four shrines in the Himalayas.
The pilgrim spot of Dev Prayag, located at the confluence of the Alaknanda and the Bhagirathi rivers besides is renowned for the Raghunath Ji temple. Similarly, the town of Uttarkashi is situated on the banks of the river Bhagirathi and its Vishwanath temple, devoted to Lord Shiva, attracts several pilgrims. The holy city of Rudra Prayag located at the confluence of Alaknanda and Mandakini draws several pilgrims to the Rudra Nath, Chamunda Devi and the Koteshwar temples. Further up at Gauri Kund, the visit the famous Gauri temple and bathe in the hot water pond. The package is completed with visit to Joshi Math, Badrinath and Govind Ghat.
The Buddhists too have several pilgrim spots in the country that are associated with the birth and teaching places of Buddha. The holy city of Varanasi is situated on the banks of Ganga. Its name has been derived from the two steams flowing through it namely, Varuna and Assi. Pilgrims to the holy land, follow the age-old tradition of bathing and performing Puja at the Ghats.
The Alamgir Mosque or the Beni Madhav Ka Darera close to the main city is an example of the beauty of amalgamation of the Hindu and Mughal styles or architecture. Noticeably, the mosque was earlier the Vishnu temple. It boasts of the largest residential university is Asia, namely the Banaras Hindu University. It BHU was founded by Pt. M.M. Malviya. The campus has added attractions like the Vishwanath temple and a museum. Another major attraction for the pilgrims happens to be the Bharat Mata temple, which is not dedicated to any God or Goddess but Mother India
Lumbini is noteworthy for being the birthplace of Buddha. The city of Sarnath is popular amongst the Buddhist as the spot for His first sermon, which revealed the eight-fold path after His enlightenment. Lord Buddha had attained Enlightenment under the Bodhi tree in Bodh Gaya, which too is a pilgrimage for the Buddhists. The pilgrimage to Vaishali is significant as Buddha delivered His last sermon here and announced His Nirvana. Similarly, there are a number of other spots for pilgrimage tourism in India.
For the Sikhs one of the most revered shrines is the Hemkunt Sahib. Pilgrims trek to a height of 4329 meters to pray at the world's Highest Gurudwara. The pilgrimage starts at the base camp of Govind Dhaam. Devotes visit the Sri Guru Nanak Dev Ji Gurudwara at Manikaran known for the hot water springs with healing properties. The sacred city of Poanta Sahib is visited to regard the tenth guru, Guru Govind Singh. Pilgrims also flock to Anandpur Sahib, the residence and meditation spot for the Gurus.
With faith in the Almighty, the pilgrims cover the most difficult of terrains with ease. So are you ready for the divine experience? Pilgrimage tourism in India is not just a fad but it is an experience of lifetime. Make this experience your own.
Dham Yatra Tour
The holy river Ganges and her tributaries flow past the Four Dhams that are located in the state of Uttranchal in North India. It is believed that Goddess Ganga descended upon the Earth in the form of a River to help the suffering humanity. It was split into four channels that include Alaknanda (in Badrinath), Mandakini (in Kedarnath), Bhagirathi (in Gangotri) and Yamuna (in Yamunotri). Each of the Four Dhams is blessed with spell binding scenic beauty and countless ancient temples. Every year, countless tourists from across the world, visit here in search of peace and tranquility. In the folds of the snow-covered reaches of the lofty Garhwal Himalayas in Uttarakhand are located four sacred Hindu shrines.
The region is referred as the land of the gods in the ancient Puranas. Scores of pilgrims visit the shrines by trekking arduously along the mountain paths, all for a communion with the divine. Over the centuries, these sites have been described in sacred scriptures as the very places where devotees could earn the merits of all the pilgrimages put together. Subsequently, temples were built at these sanctified sties for all and sundry.
Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the exquisitely architecture Kedarnath temple is said to be more than a 1000 years old. Built of extremely large, heavy and evenly cut gray slabs of stones, it evokes wonder as to how these heavy slabs were handled in the earlier days. The temple has a "Garbh Graham" for worship and a Mandap apt for assemblies of pilgrims and visitors. A conical rock formation inside the temple is worshipped as Lord Shiva in his Sadashiva form.
Amidst the dramatic mountain escapes of the majestic Kedarnath range stands one of the twelve 'Jyotir Lingams' of Kedar or Lord Shiva. Lying at an altitude of 3584 metes on the head of river Mandakini, the shrine of Kedarnath is amongst the holiest pilgrimages for the Hindus. According to legend, Lord Shiva wished to elude the Pandavas, who had come to seek penitence for having killed their kin in the battle of Kurukshetra. He took refuge in Kedarnath in the form of a bull. Bhima, one of the Pandavas brothers, found Shiva amongst a herd of cattle. Having identified the meanest and most arrogant of the herd as Shiva, Bhima is said to have grabbed him by the hindquarters. What remains at the shrine in Kedarnath is the rear end of the bull, with the rest of its body scattered throughout the Garhwal. Shiva dived into the ground leaving behind him a hump on the surface. This conical protrusion is worshipped as the idol. It is the main site of the Paanch Kedars temples.
There are four other Kedars
Badrinath Dhaam is one of the oldest Hindu places of worship. On the right bank of the river Alaknanda lies the sacred shrine perched at an altitude of 3133 m above sea level, guarded on either side by the two mountain peaks Nar & Narain with the towering Neelkanth peak providing a splendid back-drop. Also known as the Vishal Badri, the largest among the five Badris, it is revered by all as the apt tribute to Lord Vishnu. Once the spot was carpeted with 'Badris' or wild berries and hence was famous as 'Badri Van'.
Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, the temple is built in the form of a cone with a small cupola of a gilt bull & spire. Legend dates the temple prior to the Vedic age and the original temple is believed to be built by King Pururava and the icon of the lord carved by Vishwakarma, the craftsman of the gods. A Hindu reformist Adi Shankaracharya re-enshrined the temple back in the 8th century.
Gangotri, the origin of the sacred river Ganges, attracts tourists in large numbers every year. The confrontation with the daunting rivers and attempts to unravel the mysteries of the supernatural world are ubiquitous sights here. Along with the thrill of conquering nature, what one experiences here is the mystical aura that India is so famous for.
The picturesque pilgrimage in the hinterlands of the Himalayas is the most sacred spot where Ganga, the stream of life, touched earth for the first time. According to mythology, Goddess Ganga, the daughter of heaven, manifested herself in the form of a river to absolve the sins of King Bhagirath's predecessors, following his severe penance of 5500 years. Lord Shiva received her into his matted locks to minimize the impact of her fall. The river itself begins at Gangotri which literally means Ganga Uttari or Ganga descending she came to be called Bhagirathi at her legendary source. The Shrine of Gangotri is situated at an elevation of 3200 m above sea level. Set amidst captivating surroundings along the right bank of Bhagirathi Gangotri is 100 km from Uttarkashi.
The sacred shrine of Yamunotri, source of the river Yamuna, is the westernmost shrine in the Garhwal Himalayas, perched atop a flank of Bandar Poonch Peak (3615 m) and situated opposite to Gangotri.
Yamunotri is the origin of the sacred river Yamuna. Famous for its thermal springs and glaciers, it is one of the most important stopovers on the itinerary of the Hindu pilgrim. According to an old legend, Asit Muni, the revered sage, used to reside here. Yamunotri finds a special mention in the Hindu mythology. According to a legend, this secluded hilly spot was the home of an ancient sage, Asit Muni.
Among the major attractions of Yamunotri are hot water springs nearby. Devotees prepare rice and potatoes to offer at the shrine, by dipping them in these hot water springs, tied in muslin cloth. The trek to Yamunotri is spectacular, dominated by a panorama of rugged peaks and dense forests. From Rishikesh, a 213 Kms journey by road takes one to Hanuman Chattri. From here, the remaining 13 Km trek is covered on foot or on ponies. Palanquins and Porters are also available on hire.
Faith has moved mountains. From a cave shrine tucked away deep in the Tricuta Mountains of Kashmir to a bustling religious centre, the call of Mata Vaishno Devi has drawn and converted many a non-believer. Those who come as tourists leave as staunch followers singing her praises. This is the ultimate refuge of the helpless; the one place that answers your prayers; where all dilemmas are resolved. So come with faith - that's all that is asked of you.
Mata Vaishno Devi Temple
The abode of the Goddess Vaishno Devi is in the Mountains of Tricuta Hills, in the Jammu and Kashmir State of Northern India. The Goddess resides in a beautiful cave in the form of 3 'Pindis' namely, "Maha Kali", "Maha Laxmi" and "Maha Saraswati". The Goddess Durga is said to have killed the demon Bhairon here. Vaishno Devi is 61-km north of Jammu and 14-km from Katra. The cave is at an elevation of 1,700m (5,100ft) and is 30m (93 ft) long and just 1.5m (5ft) high.
Vaishno Devi is a hard four-hour (13-km) climb from Katra. The best time to come is March to July, as the rest of the time of the year it can be very cold. The main pilgrimage time is March-April and September-October. In 1986, 1.6 million people came here, or 15 to 20 thousand people a day. The cave ideally handles just 8 or 10 thousand people a day, as only 12 or 15 people are let into the cave at a time. On the full moon day in Kartik (October/ November) the line to get into the cave can be 4-km long. It is believed that the arm of Goddess Sati fell at this place.
During the time when the Goddesses were wreaking havoc on the evil Asuras, the 3 main manifestations, Maha Kali, Maha Lakshmi and Maha Saraswati, pooled their collective strength and sent a divine child to be born in the house of one Ratnakar. She was to uphold righteousness and attain a level of consciousness by which she would merge with Vishnu.
An extraordinary child, she went deep into the forest, in search of god. Intrigued by reports of her piety, Gorakhnath the tantric sent his disciple Bhairon Nath to look for her. But he began invading her privacy and even suggested that she become his wife. To escape him, Vaisnavi left Tricuta Mountains.
While passing through a ravine she shot an arrow into the earth from where water gushed out -- this stream came to be known as Baan Ganga. Charan Paduka, marked by the imprints of her feet, is the place where she rested. The Goddess then meditated in the cave at Adhkawari. It took Bhairon Nath nine months to locate her, the reason why the cave is known as Garbh Joon. Mata Vaishno Devi blasted an opening at the other end of the cave with Her Trident when Bhairon Nath located her.
On arriving at the Holy Cave at Darbar, she assumed the form of Maha Kali and cut off Bhairon Nath's head which was flung up the mountain by the force of the blow and fell at the place where the Bhairon Temple is now located. The boulder at the mouth of the Holy Cave according to the legend is the petrified torso of Bhairon Nath who was granted divine forgiveness by the benevolent Mata in his dying moments.
One of the holy Trinity, Shiva is a living God. The most sacred and the most ancient book of India, the 'Rig Veda" evokes his presence in its hymns. Vedic myths, rituals and even astronomy testify to his existence from the dawn of time. But Shiva, Destroyer, the mendicant, is indefinable.
The Yatra (pilgrimage) on foot to Amarnath Cave, considered one of the holiest naturally occurring shrines of the Hindu faith, has continued annually for little more than a hundred years. Extending up 130 feet, the Amarnath Cave is high and shallow.
A Linga Of Ice
Inside the large opening, behind an open-gated iron fence, an underground trickle of water emerges 10 feet up from a small cleft in the sedimentary rock and freezes s it drips to form a small cleft in the sedimentary rock and freezes as it drips to form a tall, smooth cone of ice.
Tales of the Cave Discovery
Legend has it that Lord Shiva recounted to Goddess Parvati the secret of creation in a cave in Amarnath. Unknown to them a pair of mating doves eavesdropped on this conversation and having learned the secret, are reborn again and again, and have made the cave their eternal abode. Many pilgrims report seeing the doves pair when they trek the arduous route to pay obeisance before the ice-lingam.
According to an ancient tale, there was once a Muslim Shepherd named Buta Malik who was given a sack of coal by a Sadhu (saint). Upon reaching home he discovered that the sack, in fact, contained Gold. Overjoyed and overcome, Buta Malik rushed back to look for Sadhu and thank him. But on the spot of their meeting discovered a cave, and eventually this became a place of pilgrimage for all believers. To date, a percentage of the donations made by pilgrims are given to the descendents of Malik, and the remaining to trust which manages the shrine.
Yet, another legend has it that when Kashyap Rishi drained the Kashmir valley of water the cave and lingam were discovered by Bregeish Rishi who was travelling the Himalayas. When people heard of lingam Amarnath for them it became Shiva's abode and a centre of pilgrimage.
Destinations Covered Include: Amaranth Yatra, Nava Graham Temples, Tirupati Balaji, Shirdi Saibaba, Vaishno Devi, Chaar Dhaam Yatra and Varanasi