- Written by Anchal Chaudhary
Since time immemorial, India has been deeply associated with spirituality, mysticism and meditation.
Invaded time and again during the course of history, India is one country where various diverse religions and faiths co-exist in sheer amity.
Where deep-rooted traditions and rites & rituals are a way of life, India is known as the ‘Land of the mystic’ and has numerous mythological stories and legends creating its rich and colourful history.
The most interesting bit, however, is the way these legends are correlated with various places spread throughout the country. These places are held in deep reverence by the believers and are taken as pilgrimages.
Many pilgrimage places are considered to have been visited by Gods themselves while others are revered as saints are believed to have meditated there to attain salvation.
Considered as gateway to heavenly abode, pilgrimages are flocked by millions of pilgrims and tourists throughout the year.
While some visit Haridwar or Varanasi to take a dip in the holy Ganges to wash away their sins, the other trek up the challenging terrains of the Char-dham, Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath, to seek God’s blessings. And then there are those who visit the shrines of Vaishno Devi and Mansa Devi or the dargah of Moin-ud-din Chishti, praying for the fulfillment of their wishes.
The Sikhs hold sacred and frequent the Gurudwaras of Sri Anandpur Sahib, where Guru Gobind Singh laid the foundation of the Khalsa Panth, and Harmandir Sahib, also known as Golden Temple of Amritsar, where their holy scripture, ‘Guru Granth Sahib’ was first installed after its completion. Hemkund Sahib and Paonta Sahib are also amongst the most visited Sikh pilgrimages.
The Muslims have their own set of sacred destinations like Jama Masjid in Delhi, Haji Ali in Mumbai and Hazratbal shrine in Kashmir.
And this is not all! The whole country is dotted with churches. And adding to its ethereal glory is the fact that it was here in India that Lord Buddha had attained enlightenment. As of today, Bodh Gaya and Sarnath, in Bihar, alongwith Dharamshala and McLeodganj in Himachal Pradesh are Buddhist Pilgrimage sites drawing Buddhist pilgrims and tourists from all over the world.
Also, Vaishali, the birthplace of Lord Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankara, alongwith Pawapuri and Rajgir in Bihar, Mount Abu and Ranakpur in Rajasthan renowned for beautiful Dilwara temples, are among many popular Jain pilgrimage sites.
While the legends and beliefs interlaced with these sites add beauty and significance to these places, the rites and rituals performed by devotees with deep reverence and concrete faith, are actually what make their ambience divine, mystic and overwhelmingly spiritual even for the nonbelievers.