Sacred Tourist Destinations of Mount Abu

Positioned amidst the majestic Aravalli Range at an approximate elevation of over 4000 feet, Mount Abu is a prominent hill station located in the district of Sirohi in Rajasthan. The hill station is nestled on a unique rocky plateau, which is more than 20 kilometres in length and approximately nine kilometres in width. At an elevation of over 5650 feet above sea level, Guru Shikhar is the highest peak here. Mount Abu is popularly known as the Oasis in the Desert as it houses pristine water bodies and verdant evergreen forests. Apart from its scenic panorama, this hill station is also known for its prominent religious edifices and is sometimes called the Abode of Gods. Devotees from different parts of India and beyond opt for a Mount Abu tour package and flock here in thousands to offer prayers and seek blessings at the revered shrines. Some of the most prominent religious establishments here include, Gaumukh, Adhar Devi (Arbuda Devi) and Achaleshwar Mahadev (Achalgarh) temples.

 

Gaumukh Temple

Gaumukh Temple

Gaumukh Temple

Gaumukh Temple, nestled on a hill-top, is an ancient religious property visited by hordes of devotees and tourists round the year. There are many folklores and mythological stories associated with this Hindu temple. According to the most popular belief, sage Vashistha lived here with his consort. He was blessed with a wish-fulfilling cow, which was invoked by churning the ocean. This cow is supposedly the fountain head of the sacred river Saraswati. Besides, stories also suggest that Hindu Lord Rama came here to attain knowledge and education. The property houses a sculpture of the Gaumukh, which means the head of a cow and a spectacular marble idol of Nandi – the bull vahana (ride) of Lord Shiva. This place is easily accessible by road and once the devotees reach the complex, they have to climb a fleet of over 750 stairs.

 

Adhar Devi (Arbuda Devi) Temple

Adhar Devi Temple

Adhar Devi Temple

Adhar Devi is another highly revered destination located inside a cave in Mount Abu. Positioned around three kilometres away from main hill station, this shrine is accessible after climbing a fleet of about 365 stairs, which are carved into the hill. This religious property is dedicated to Hindu Goddess Durga and is thronged by devotees throughout the year, especially during the nine days of the holy Navratras. Legends have it that the Adhar of Maa Durga fell at this place and that the idol of the Goddess was found hanging in the air. Tourists visit this sacred destination for its quaint beauty and the panoramic surroundings.

 

Achaleshwar Mahadev (Achalgarh) Temple

 

Achaleshwar Mahadev Temple

Achaleshwar Mahadev Temple

Another significant destination of religious importance in this exquisite hilly resort is the Achaleshwar Mahadev (Achalgarh) Temple, which is believed to be more than 2500 years old. This shrine is the only holy place where the revered Toe of Hindu deity Shiva is worshipped. According to mythological stories and legends, the Toe of Shiva is believed to be rooted to the centre of the earth. One of the prime highlights of this place, is the unique sculpture of Nandi, which is made up of an extraordinary alloy of five metals known as the Panchadhatu in Hindi. Dripping with scenic natural beauty and legendary shrines, Mount Abu encourages people from every nook and corner of the world to opt for Rajasthan tour India.

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Pilgrimage Destinations for Jains in India

Religion has always been an integral part of cultural tourism in India. The country has followers of almost every existing religion, which altogether depict its unity in diversity. One such religion that is followed here is Jainism, which was founded in the country itself. Divided into two sects – Digambara and Shwetambara, this religion is counted amongst the oldest ones across the globe. The true nature of Jainism lies in endurance, non-violence, body control and living on godly teachings of enlightened people of the past. For some, it is finding inner peace while for others, it could be the final liberation from worldly affairs.

Being the central location of this religion, India has several sacred sites, which are considered prime pilgrimages by its followers. Exploring these Jain shrines is a different experience, for every visit brings a change in the outlook of visitors who explore more than just relics, paintings, carvings and architectural beauty. No wonder, every year, all such places are visited by numerous travellers and devotees from different states of the country and abroad.

Jain pilgrimages in India are present almost in every corner of it, be it the coastal state of Gujarat or Madhya Pradesh – the heart of India. Dedicated to the revered Tirthankaras, these sites are held in high regard by the Jain community present all over the world. Some of these places house ancient Jain relics, manuscripts and sacred artefacts, which provide greater details about the religion and its inception. During my visit to various parts of India, I came across several pilgrimages of this religion, which left me amazed with their architecture and serenity. After have being visited almost every place of such type, I can list the top pilgrimage destinations for Jainism in India:

Palitana

Palitana

Palitana

Palitana, located in Gujarat, is a famous Jainism site in the country where we get to see an astounding conglomeration of about 900 shrines on two mountain peaks. Built by various generation of Jainism followers over a period of a thousand years, this place is counted as one of the most venerated sites related to the religion. Some well-known shrines that people can visit while being here include Sampriti Raja, Chaumukh, Astapada, Kumarpal, Shri Adishwara, Vimalsha, Shahastrakuta and Bhulavani. It takes two hours to climb up, but once there, religious chores and beautiful surrounding landscapes bring the heart to a state of utter delight and peace.

Junagadh

Mount Girnar

Mount Girnar

Junagadh is famed as an important tourist spot for both Hindu and Jain devotees. Located at the foothill of the towering Mount Girnar, this place boasts beautiful landscapes, vast open skies and a plenty of religious sites. A flight of 9999 steps supposedly leads to the topmost temple on the mountain and serves as the focal point of an annual religious race. Temples of both Shwetambara and Digambara Jainism are located here, thus drawing devotees from both the sects of this religion. The architecture of these temples is reminiscent of the various periods that they belong to.

Chanderi

Jain Temples in Madhya Pradesh

Jain Temples in Madhya Pradesh

Chanderi is a frequented site as far as Jain pilgrimage is concerned. It is an important historic town in the Ashoknagar district of Madhya Pradesh that boasts a number of significant locations. It was an erstwhile stronghold of the Parwar Jain community and a significant cultural centre for Jainism. Most of the Jain temples in Chanderi are concentrated in its older portion, which is known as Buddhi Chanderi. It houses a plethora of Jain temples, which date back to around 9th and 10th centuries. As such, this place sees huge gathering of Jain devotees from every nook and corner of the country. A number of small hamlets are present near the town that carry prominence as Jain religious sites.

Mount Abu

Mount Abu Jain temple

Mount Abu Jain temple

As many know and acknowledge, Mount Abu is a widely-known hill station and pilgrimage destination in Rajasthan. It houses a number of magnificent Jain temples, which hold historic and archaeological significance. In fact, the Jain temples at Dilwara collectively serve as the nerve centre of Jainism in India and attract people from all over the world. The extraordinary architecture and splendid marble stone carvings of these temples inspire visitors to praise their grandeur. With a bit of more research about Dilwara temples, one would find that they were constructed between the 11th and 13th centuries. There are five stunning temples at this place that were built by Vastupal and Tejpal.

Sammed Shikhar

Sammed Shikhar

Sammed Shikhar

Sammed Shikhar, also called the Peak of Concentration, is one of the holiest places for Jains across the world. It is believed that 20 out of the 24 Jain Tirthankaras came here for the attainment of Nirvana. A shrine for each of these spiritual leaders is located atop this hill, making it a place of high religious reverence. The other name for this venerated site is Parasnath Hill that is derived from the name of the 23rd Jain Tirthankara. Surrounded by a dark forest called Madhuban, this hilltop is accessible by an arduous trek.

Khajuraho

Khajuraho

Khajuraho

Khajuraho is a world famous tourist spot that is regarded as a significant pilgrimage destination for Jains and Hindus. As a matter of fact, the Khajuraho Group of Monuments is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and also gets recognition as one of the Seven Wonders of India. Speaking about the place and its connection with Jainism, it houses several Jain temple built during the reign of Chandela kings. Most of the Jain temples at this site are in ruins now. Parshvanath Temple, Adinath Temple and Shantinath Temple are few of the shrines, which stand in a preserved state till date. Jain inscriptions can be seen on the walls of these temples, narrating facts about the Chandela period.

Mahudi

Mahudi Jain temple

Mahudi Jain temple

Mahudi, regarded as a Jain pilgrimage spot, is frequented by devotees throughout the year. The Mahudi Jain Temple in this village is undoubtedly its prime attraction. Established by a Jain monk named Buddhisagar Suri, this temple houses a marble idol of Padmaprabh – the 6th Jain Tirthankara. A separate shrine that houses the idol of Ghantakarna Mahavir Dev is also situated nearby. Devotees visiting the place offer sukhadi (a kind of sweet), which has to be consumed before leaving the temple premises.

Bhadreshwar

Bhadreshwar Jain Temple

Bhadreshwar Jain Temple

Bhadreshwar is significant for Jains as it houses a number of ancient Jain temples. Known as Bhadrawati Nagari in ancient times, this place was a stronghold of Jain rulers, especially the Solankis. The group of temples in the town is collectively referred to as Bhadreshwar Jain Temple and flocked by numerous Jain devotees the year round. One of these shrines is known to shave an original Parshvanath idol, which dates back to 500 BC.

Shravanabelagola

Sravanabelagola

Sravanabelagola

Shravanabelagola (also called White Pond of the Shravana) is an important Jain pilgrimage destination in the south of India. It is famous for the Gommateshvara Bahubali statue, which was established back in AD 978-993 and considered to be built under the patronage of the Western Ganga Dynasty. This imposing statue is regarded as one of the best works of sculpture from that period. It is believed that the great king Chandragupta Maurya died at this place, post his conversion into a Jain ascetic.

Ranakpur

Ranakpur Jain temple

Ranakpur Jain temple

Ranakpur is a wonderful place to visit and be amazed by sculptured Jain temples. It is even more significant for people who follow Jainism for they get a rare chance to explore and appreciate the exquisite beauty and spirituality of this place. Established in the 15th century, these temples of Ranakpur are amongst the prime shrines of Jainism. Lord Adinath – the first Jain Tirthankara – is the presiding deity of the central Chaumukha Temple, which stands tall as an architectural marvel and has 29 halls along with 1444 distinctly carved pillars. Other temples in the region are dedicated to various Jain Tirthankaras and guardian deities of Jainism. Exemplary of brilliance in architecture, the Jain temples of Ranakpur are definitely worth appreciating for their beauty and grandeur.

India is abound with numerous pilgrimage sites related to Jainism. From ancient cave formations to modern shrines, there are a number of places where Jain followers come to worship. In short, the various Jain pilgrimage sites of India are bound to make travellers feel an aura of spirituality and compel them to appreciate the architectural excellence prevailing over different periods of time. Dedicated to various Tirthankaras and deities associated with the religion, these temples throw a light on the inception and development of Jainism through passing years. Holiday packages to such destinations also provide an opportunity to be a part of festivities and jubilations by getting along with people celebrating Navpad Oli, Paryushan Mahasparva and the birth occasion of Lord Mahavir.

Pilgrimage Destinations of Sikhs in India

India is known for being the land of multiple religions, faiths and beliefs. The true essence of this country lies in its unmatched unity amidst an unbelievable diversity. Amongst the various religions followed by the countrymen, Sikhism is an important one in addition to Hinduism, Islam and Christianity. The Sikh community has a strong presence across the entire nation, owing to which there is no dearth of Sikh pilgrimage destinations. There are several venerated sites of Sikhism in India, where travellers can plan a religious visit to.

Sikhism is an Indian monotheistic religion, which was founded by Guru Nanak during the 15th century. Initially confined to some regions of Punjab, the religion gradually spread its roots across other parts of the Indian subcontinent. As the religion grew, so did the number of its followers and places of worship. There are several revered places of worship across the country, of which some are dedicated to the Sikh Gurus while others are holy shrines preserving religious relics.

When it comes to Sikh pilgrimage sites, most of them are situated within the territory of Punjab – the Sikh-dominated state. Apart from it, there are several worshipping places for Sikhs across India, which are flocked by devotees in large numbers. Some of these stand as fine examples of beautiful architecture and utmost devotion. Being travelled most of the parts of India, I can list the following places as the prime religious sites of Sikhism:

The Golden Temple

The Golden Temple

The Golden Temple

The Golden Temple is in the sacred city of Amritsar and is the focal point of attraction for travelers from different parts of India and abroad. Surrounded by a holy tank, this religious edifice is perhaps the most important place of worship for the followers of Sikhism. Locals suggest that the best time to visit this shrine is when the day begins and the first ray of sunlight kisses its golden crown. This temple, also called Sri Harmandir Sahib Amritsar, is one of the most venerated sites for Sikhs and stands for brotherhood, equality and peace. As far as history is concerned, the fourth Sikh Guru Sri Guru Ram Dass Ji gave a go-ahead to the digging of Amrit Sarovar (The Holy Tank) in AD 1577. Sri Guru Arjan Dev Ji (fifth Sikh Guru) completed the brick lining of this holy tank on 15th December, 1588 and gave a nod for the construction of the Golden Temple. Sri Guru Granth Sahib is said to have been installed in the premises of this shrine on 16th August, 1604. The most incredible experience while being at this place is taking a dip in the holy pool with the chanting of religious hymns in the background.

Anandpur Sahib

Anandpur Sahib

Anandpur Sahib

Regarded as the birthplace of Khalsa Panth, Anandpur Sahib is an esteemed place of pilgrimage for the Sikhs. Located about 80 km away from Chandigarh, this small town is nestled between foothills of the Shivalik range and the Sutlej River. It is the site of five holy forts constructed by Guru Gobind Singh and Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib – one of the top five pilgrimages in Sikhism. Anandpur Sahib is famous for its splendid white gurudwaras and thus, devotees gather here in large numbers to be a part of divine bliss in the pious name of the almighty. This place is significant to Sikhism followers as it has witnessed many important events, such as the foundation of Khalsa Panth and establishment of the council of five wise men, who govern religious affairs of Sikhs. Some well-known festivals that are celebrated here with great pomp and show are Baisakhi and Holla Mohalla.

Fatehgarh Sahib

Fatehgarh Sahib

Fatehgarh Sahib

Fatehgarh Sahib is a significant pilgrimage centre of Sikhs that is around 50 km to the north of Patiala. The place is referred to as the town of victory as it is where more than 1500 Sikhs razed a fort that was built during the rule of Balban. Gurudwara Fatehgarh Sahib in this town reminds of the martyrdom of the two sons of Sri Guru Gobind Singh Ji – the 10th Sikh Guru. After coming here, one can also visit Gurudwara Jyoti Sarup Sahib, a place where cremation ceremonies in honour of deceased Sikh martyrs are held. Some other places of interest for tourists visiting Fatehgarh Sahib are Rauza Sharif, Gurudwara Shaheed Ganj, Das Nami Akhara, Tomb of Nabis and Haveli Todar Mal.

 

Damdama Sahib

Damdama Sahib

Damdama Sahib

It was at Damdama Sahib that Raja Ajmer Chand, along with two Mughal accomplices namely Sayyed Beg and Alaf Khan, attacked Guru Gobind Singh, but was beaten badly. Following this incident, the Mughal General become a devotee of Guru Ji. It is also the same sacred site where the Guru taught the lesson of bringing justice and goodness to the mankind, even if it meant giving personal sacrifices. Takht Sri Damdama Sahib is the place where he prepared the complete version of Guru Granth Sahib while a long stay. In addition to the main Gurudwara, the place has several other shrines like Tibbi Sahib, Jand Sahib, Gurusar and Likhansar.

 

Hemkund Sahib

Hemkund Sahib

Hemkund Sahib

Hemkund Sahib is a famous Sikh Gurudwara, which is located in Chamoli – a district in Uttarakhand. It is devoted to Guru Gobind Singh, who was the last one of the 10 Sikh Gurus and founder of Khalsa Panth. This Gurudwara is located on the bank of a glacial lake, which is encompassed by seven snow-covered peaks – each marked by a sacred Nishan Sahib (holy flag). For tourists willing to make a tour to this famous destination, the best time would be from May to September as it remains inaccessible through other parts of the year. Around this time, flowers bloom in the region and the weather is also pretty conducive for the pilgrimage.

 

Gurudwaras in Delhi

Gurudwara Sis Ganj

Gurudwara Sis Ganj

Delhi is regarded as a globally-known destination, when it comes to pilgrimage sites for Sikhs. In this regard, some popular names include Gurudwara Sis Ganj, Rakab Ganj Gurudwara and the famous Bangla Sahib Gurudwara. The Bangla Sahib Gurudwara witnessed the stay of the eighth Guru Sri Har Krishan, who was entirely devoted to the selfless service of the sick and poor.

Rakab Ganj Gurudwara

Rakab Ganj Gurudwara

This place was initially the palatial residence of Raja Jai Singh, who was a 17th century ruler. The holy pool next to this Gurudwara is said to have healing properties in its water.

Bangla Sahib Gurudwara

Bangla Sahib Gurudwara

Sis Ganj is one of the nine historic gurudwaras in the city while Rakab Ganj marks the cremation spot of Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur – the ninth Sikh Guru.

Paonta Sahib

Paonta Sahib

Paonta Sahib

Paonta Sahib, located on the bank of River Yamuna, is yet another place of interest for Sikh pilgrims in India. It is the location of its namesake Gurudwara, which is linked to Guru Gobind Singh and houses weapons used by him. The Gurudwara is considered the site where he wrote several religious scriptures, before heading to Anandpur Sahib for the establishment of Khalsa Panth.

Patna Sahib

Patna Sahib

Patna Sahib

Patna Sahib is a revered shrine, which is regarded as the birthplace of Guru Gobind Singh Ji – born on 22nd December, 1666. The Gurudwara here is amongst the only five seats of authorities in Sikhism and  was built by Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 18th century. The site was also visited by Guru Nanak and Guru Tegh Bahadur and thus, it is even more relevant and significant as a popular Sikh pilgrimage center. Several sacred relics are preserved in this Gurudwara, which include religious scriptures and weapons of armory.

Manikaran

Gurudwara Manikaran Sahib

Gurudwara Manikaran Sahib

Manikaran is a small town, situated in the picturesque Parvati Valley of Himachal Pradesh. This place is famous amongst Sikh travellers, who frequent the site for its sacred Gurudwara. Manikaran Sahib Gurudwara was built in order to commemorate the visit of Sri Guru Nanak Dev to the place. Here, one can find hot water springs, which are said to have curative and magical properties. Guru Gobind Singh is also believed to have visited this site, thus adding to its reverence as a Sikh pilgrimage spot.

Takht Sri Hazur Sahib

 

Takht Sri Hazur Sahib

Takht Sri Hazur Sahib

Takht Sri Hazur Sahib is amongst the five sacred takhts of Sikhism and is remembered as a place where Guru Gobind Singh took his last breath. It lies along the bank of the Godavari River and was built on the orders of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. This Gurudwara houses two prime religious scriptures of Sikhism – Guru Granth Sahib and Sri Dasam Granth.

With a multitude of Sikh pilgrimage sites, India is a wonderful religious destination for the followers of this religion. Speaking of great religious leaders and selfless sacrifice of Sikh warriors, these places invoke a feeling of pride and devotion in the minds of visitors. Some of these Gurudwaras and shrines are marvels of excellent architecture while others are reminders of historic dates in the eventful Sikh history. Having a lot of reasons to be proud of glorious historical past, these pilgrimage destinations ideally represent Sikhism – the religion that signifies a spiritual life and the oneness of God.

Revered Jewish Sites in India

Religion – the single most vital assemblage of cultural beliefs, worldly views and a system of living that unite a group of people to a particular order of existence. There are more than 4000 different religions in the world as per some rough estimations. Among these, Judaism has over 12 million followers and ranks among the top ten most practised cults across the globe. Among the three Abrahamic faiths, Judaism is the original, the other two being Islam and Christianity. According to many sources, this is the oldest and first of the three main monotheistic customs. Monotheism is related to the belief that there exists only one God, who is eternal and all-existent. All people who have taken birth are created with this ideology that they will do what is merciful and just, thus being treated with honor and dignity.

It is believed that this faith had been established more than 3500 years ago in the Middle East. Though, it was founded by Moses, most of the Jews give the credits of giving birth to this religion to Abraham. Most of the followers of Judaism believe that they have a covenant with the supreme God. The vital motive of all Jews is to abide by the laws of God and instil holiness into daily lives in return for the good that God has done for the Jews. Torah is the most important religious text for followers of this cult and the laws of this document are known as halakhah. Synagogues are the places of worship for the followers of this religion. Most of these are located in Israel, United States of America and a number of other nations. In India, there are over 30 synagogues, which are the most visited places for followers of this religion in the country.

Paradesi Synagogue, Kochi 

Paradesi Synagogue

Paradesi Synagogue

Paradesi Synagogue, located in the city of Mattancherry in the western part of Kochi is, perhaps, the oldest place of worship for Jews in India. It is located at one quaint corner of Jew Town and has attracted visitors for over a hundred years. This was initially constructed in the 1560s due to intense Jewish connection with Kerala.

Mattancherry Palace

Mattancherry Palace

The piece of land was situated adjacent to the historic Mattancherry Palace and was given to the community of the Jews by the ruler of Cochin. It was destroyed in the 1660s by the Portuguese invaders and later reconstructed by the Dutch.

 

Ohel David Synagogue, Pune

Ohel David Synagogue

Ohel David Synagogue

One of the most pious places for Jews in the country is the Ohel David Synagogue located in the city of Pune in Maharashtra. This shrine was established by Late David Sassoon in the 1860s, who was also famous for his social services and other philanthropic constructions. Sometimes it is also known as Lal Davel or the Red Synagogue as its entire construction is done with red bricks.

Ohel David Synagogue (interiors)

Ohel David Synagogue (interiors)

It receives a large influx of devotees and worshippers from the nearby locations as well as from the entire country. Every Saturday, prayers are organised at this temple and a Hazzan (Jewish overseer) from Mumbai pays a visit to conduct the proceedings.

 

Gate of Mercy, Mumbai

Gate of Mercy, Mumbai

Gate of Mercy, Mumbai

This Synagogue located in Mumbai, that is sometimes referred as the Juni Masjid or Shaar Harahamim, is one of the oldest in the state of Maharashtra. Built in the year 1796 by Samaji Hasaji Divekar, who was a Bene Israeli, this shrine was initially located in the southern part of the metropolitan. It was later constructed at a new location near Mandvi. A good population of the Jewish community developed and thrived around this synagogue. Apart from being the site of Jewish worship, it is also visited by those people who are eager to visit historic places of worship.

 

Magen David Synagogue, Kolkata

Magen David Synagogue

Magen David Synagogue

Established in the 1880s, Magen David Synagogue, which is also known as the Shield of David, is situated at the juncture of the Canning Street and Brabourne Road in Kolkata. Its location is at one of the busiest points of the capital city of West Bengal. Having a clock tower, which rises to over 130-feet, this place is one of the most visited by Jews in the city. Inscriptions in Hebrew and  hexagonal Star of David can be witnessed as people approaches through the arched entrance. The two opposite walls are decorated with plaques and other memoirs of notable Jews who lived in Kolkata. Interiors of this shrine are extremely well-kept and the glistening chandeliers, glass windows and chequered marble flooring create an excellent ambience.

 

Beth El Synagogue, Kolkata

Beth El Synagogue

Beth El Synagogue

Beth El Synagogue is located on the Pollock Street and is a short distance away from the other prominent synagogue in Kolkata (Magen David Synagogue). A flight of stairs constructed from marble leads to the interiors of the shrine. The seven pointed candle stand of Menorah and the hexagonal star of David shows the intense influence of Judaism in its construction. The centre of the shrine is surrounded by three balconies and the central portion is elevated. It is from here that the priest delivers religious services. This, along with the other synagogue, is the centres of Jewish pilgrimage spots in Kolkata.

 

Magen David Synagogue, Mumbai

Magen David Synagogue, Mumbai

Magen David Synagogue, Mumbai

This shrine, bearing the name like its counterpart in Kolkata, is located in Byculla near the capital city of Mumbai in Maharashtra. It was established by David Sassoon according to the erstwhile Victorian style of construction in 1860s. This synagogue was primarily established in this zone for the growing concentration of the Baghdad Jews here. They were fleeing from their native land to evade the merciless execution by Daud Pasha. By the early 1900s, the population had increased remarkably, following which, the shrine had to be extended. Currently, it is one of the most popular synagogues in this part of the world and thousands of worshippers come to this place.

 

Mattancherry Synagogue, Kochi

Mattancherry Synagogue, Kochi

Mattancherry Synagogue, Kochi

Fort Kochi in Kerala houses one of the most important shrines for Jews in India, the Mattancherry Synagogue. It was established in the late 1560s and one of the oldest in the country. This shrine was destroyed in a shelling by the Portuguese, but later re-established by the Dutch. Some of the most prominent attractions here are Chinese willow-patterned floor tiles, a clock tower, scrolls from the Old Testament, Hebrew inscriptions on slabs of stone and ancient scriptures on plates of copper. Erstwhile Cochin emperors and rulers had granted several special privileges for the establishing of this shrine.

 

Keneseth Eliyahoo, Mumbai

Keneseth Eliyahoo, Mumbai

Keneseth Eliyahoo, Mumbai

Keneseth Eliyahoo was constructed by Jacob Elias Sassoon to commemorate his father, Eliyahoo Sassoon. At Colaba in Mumbai, the capital of Maharashtra, it was erected in the 1880s and is in proximity to a number of famous accommodation facilities in the metropolis. This shrine was primarily established for the large population of Baghdadi Jewish community that started living at this region. Currently, this pious place now receives visitors from around the world. Regular prayer services are arranged at this synagogue, which are attended by the local Jewish people. Its favourable location has added to its popularity for followers of this faith.

 

Succath Shelomo, Pune

Succath Shelomo, Pune

Succath Shelomo, Pune

This place of worship for the Jews is located in the cantonment area of the city of Pune in Maharashtra. The foundation stone of this synagogue was laid in the late 1910s. Its construction was completed within a mere span of two years and has catered to the Jewish community till then. One of the more recent shrines for the Jews in Maharashtra, it is often visited by worshippers of this cult in the region. Since its construction, a good population of followers of this faith have carved a niche here. The interiors of this synagogue is well-maintained till date and is a visual treat for visitors.

 

Beth-Ha-Elohim, Pen

Situated at Pen, which is a small town in the district of Raigad in Maharashtra, Beth-Ha-Elohim is a famous synagogue for followers of this custom in India. This small town in the suburbs has a significant community of followers of Judaism, especially from the community of Bene Israel. Most of the population has thrived around this shrine, where they offer their prayer services. It is one of the lesser known synagogues in India, as a result, visited only by regional population. However, the architecture and construction work reflects the dexterity and stark resemblances to its other popular counterparts in the state.

 

India might be one of the lesser known patrons of the Jewish cult and tribe, where the population of followers of Judaism is a minority. However, that does has not prevented from people who are followers of this custom to practise their religion here. The beautiful shrines have been examples of the preaching and practising of Judaism and the Jewish culture from centuries. Most of the famous synagogues are present in Kochi in the state of Kerala, Mumbai and Pune in the state of Maharashtra and Kolkata in West Bengal. People who want to visit these shrines can tour the country. Ample modes of transport are offered for travelers and the accommodation facilities cater to lodging. India lives up to the term ‘secular’ and lets followers of Judaism practice and follow their religion at ease.

Revered Islamic Pilgrimage Destinations in India

Famous across the globe for its rich diversity, culture and heritage, India has been a major tourist destination since decades. Once in India, it is quite difficult to escape the religious beliefs and traditions that people from different religions follow in this multi-ethnic nation. In this respect, getting acquainted with the cultural and architectural beauty associated with Islamic monuments and places of interest in India comes as a truly rewarding experience.

As recorded in the history books, India saw the spread of Islam across its regions back in the early 8th century followed by visits made by Arab traders, Muslim invaders and then the entry of Mughal emperors. Sufi saints also helped immensely in spread it as they preached lessons of universal brotherhood, peace and unique art-of-living – the aspects on which this religion is based on. Today, Islam is the second-most followed religion in the country, after Hinduism. According to an estimate, the population of Muslims in this nation is around 174 millions and had there been no agonising partition, it would have been at the top in the list of largest Muslim countries in the world.

To fully appreciate the beauty underlying Islam, one has to thoroughly understand what the holy book, Quran, preaches to the mankind. Similarly, to have a more enriching experience, visiting Islamic monuments and pilgrimage destinations in the country, it is highly recommended to know specific history and other associated information. A visit to such places is just like an escape of a mind with a goal to soothe and pamper the soul, which is shackled in the web of worldly gossips and affairs. Just as an acknowledgement for global travellers, there are many such structures in this multi-faceted country, but some are rated high based on their popularity.

Ajmer Sharif, Rajasthan

Ajmer Sharif

Ajmer Sharif during Urs

Ajmer Sharif is a popular Islamic shrine that is located in Rajasthan and is considered as a place where mannats (wishes) get fulfilled. It is the shrine of a great sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisthi. No wonder, everyday this sacred shrine is visited by thousands of devotees from different states of India and other countries. A trip is likely to be an exclusive and incredible experience.

Ajmer Sharif, Ajmer, Rajasthan

Ajmer Sharif, Ajmer, Rajasthan

The restlessness vanish gradually as one explores more and more while sounds of chants and daily chores bring-in inner peace, joy, sense of fulfilment and state of well-being at this place. The annual Urs held here is a great attraction for both foreigners and local people. Besides Ajmer-e-Sharif Dargah, getting around Ana Sagar lake, Akbar Palace and Taragarh Fort can also be a wonderful experience for tourists.

Jama Masjid, Delhi

Jama Masjid, Delhi

Jama Masjid, Delhi

Being on a tour to Delhi and not visiting the famous Jama Masjid sounds like missing a lot. I have been to Jama Masjid for once and was left simply stunned by its amazing architectural beauty. The grandness of this mosque, which is also the largest in the country, is evident from its accommodation capacity of about 25,000 devotees at a time. This mosque was built by Mughal emperor – Shah Jahan, who is also known to have built the Taj Mahal and Red Fort.

Jama Masjid Interiors

Jama Masjid Interiors

On taking a look at this marvelous structure, one can easily notice that it has three big gates and four grand towers. It also boasts of two 40-metre high minarets that are constructed using white marble and red sandstone. Also, frequent travelers would know that robes-on-hire are available at the northern gate of this great mosque.

Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya Dargah, Delhi

Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya Dargah, Delhi

Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya Dargah, Delhi

Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya Dargah is an ideal place, where peace and solace can be found in abundance and prayers be offered for a happy mortal life and life after death. This shrine of Sufi saint Nizamuddin Auliya is located on busy lanes of Nizamuddin in South Delhi. This holy place is visited by numerous devotees every year seeking fulfilment of their wishes. Visitors should also attend Kawallis that are scheduled daily in the premises. On Thursdays and Sundays, visitors can enjoy langar seva (food being served for the common mass).

Just next to Hazrat Nizamuddin Dargah, there is a famous shrine of Amir Khusro, who is remembered as a disciple of Hazrat Nizamuddin. Other places of interest in the vicinity are Lal Mahal, Ghalib library and Mirza Ghalib Tomb.

Dargah-Qutb-Sahib, Delhi

Dargah-Qutb-Sahib, Delhi

Dargah-Qutb-Sahib, Delhi

Dargah of Qutb-Sahib is located in the vicinity of Gandak-ki-Baoli, in Mehrauli village. It is also called as dargah of Qutbuddin Bakhtiyar Kaki. Historically speaking, Kaki is known for being the successor of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti of Ajmer Sharif. According to a popular belief, if anyone with a fully devoted heart makes a wish, followed by tying a thread just near the grave, it would receive fulfilment. Once the wish is granted, the person is recommended to come back to this location to untie the thread. Moti Masjid that was built by Bahadur Shah I in 1709 is also at a walking distance from Ajmeri gate of this dargah.

Haji Ali, Mumbai

Haji Ali, Mumbai

Haji Ali, Mumbai

Haji Ali is a widely-known pilgrimage destination that is visited by around 10-15 thousand people everyday. This increases manifold during Bakri Eid (Eid-ul-Uzha) and Ramadhan Eid festivals. This prestigious Islamic landmark is located amidst the Arabian Sea. This well-known dargah houses the tomb of Pir Haji Ali Shah Bukhari (R.A.) and a mosque. Anyone seeking realisation of a wish must travel to this beautiful landmark of peace and brotherhood.

Fatehpur Sikri, Agra

Fatehpur Sikri, Agra

Fatehpur Sikri, Agra

Anyone who desires to witness the marvellous Mughal architecture must travel down to Fatehpur Sikri. This historically important site was built by Akbar as a gesture of gratitude to Shaikh Salim Chishti, a saint who used to live in a city named Sikri. The emperor had three sons by blessings of the saint and thus, the name Fatehpur Sikri (also called as the City of Victory).

Buland Darwaza

Buland Darwaza

Tourists turn to this place to capture a glimpse of fine structures like Fatehpur Sikri Mosque, Panch Mahal and Diwan-i-Khas. The famous Buland Darwaza and Tomb of Salim Chishti can also be seen here. This place is listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. The best part of this pilgrimage destination is that it is open on all days for devotees.

Mecca Masjid, Andhra Pradesh

Mecca Masjid, Andhra Pradesh

Mecca Masjid, Andhra Pradesh

Mecca Masjid is so named as its central arch is made of bricks that were brought all the way from Mecca. This mosque, which was given a final touch of completion by Aurangzeb in the year 1694, can truly be called as the poetry in stone for it depicts love for dexterous craftsmanship and passion for great structures in then ruling kings. It has a big hall that measures 67 metres and soars to a height of 54 metres. Not only this, there are fifteen beautiful arches that provide support to this wonderful structure. People also come here to see graves that are made of marble. Mecca Masjid is located in the Old City, Hyderabad and therefore, one should also visit the nearby Charminar that boasts of the same significant tale as that of the Taj Mahal, Agra.

Hazratbal Mosque, Kashmir

Hazratbal Mosque, Kashmir

Hazratbal Mosque, Kashmir

Anyone who has visited Dal Lake in Kashmir would know about this important religious place as its pristine marble elegance merrily reflects in the calm lake water. The great significance bestowed on this holy shrine is due to the fact that it puts on public display the hair of Hazrat Muhammad, the true propagator of Islam. People come here to offer special prayers held on every Friday. Another interesting fact about this structure is that it is the only mosque in Srinagar with a dome. The nearby Nishat Bagh, Dal Lake and posing views of mountain beyond are simply superb to behold over and over again.

The Sidi Saiyyed Mosque, Ahmedabad

The Sidi Saiyyed Mosque, Ahmedabad

The Sidi Saiyyed Mosque, Ahmedabad

The Sidi Saiyyed Mosque, located in Ahmedabad, is a prominent Islamic structure in India that was built by Sidi Saeed (or Sidi Saiyyed). It has splendid architecture, with ten stone windows (jalis) with latticework on its side and rear arches. Interestingly, this mosque is also an inspiration for the logo design carried by the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad.

Alahazrat Dargah, Bareilly

Alahazrat Dargah, Bareilly

Alahazrat Dargah, Bareilly

Alahazrat Dargah is a famous place for Muslims from all over the world. Located in Bareilly, Uttar Pradesh, it is dedicated to the renowned philosopher and prolific writer Ahmed Raza Khan Fazil-e-Barelvi, also famous by the name of Aala Hazrat. People come here in large numbers all through the year to pray to the almighty and seek penance for any of their misdeeds.

Truly speaking, India is one of the most favorite locations on the world map when it comes to pilgrimage for Muslims. It is home to centuries-old monuments that offer devotees an environment of peace and tranquillity that no other place in the world can provide. These holy sites have been an integral part of this nation since ages and will continue to do so in the future generations.