Tourists from around the world travel each year to visit the ancient holy cities in India. Many are looking for spiritual enlightenment, while others simply wish to explore these cities, which have been standing for centuries. Regardless of one’s purpose, every traveler will agree that a journey through India’s holy cities is a life-changing adventure. The trip will be etched in the traveler’s memory forever, as sure as the ancient cities have stood through the test of time.
Haridwar is a holy city in the Uttarakhand State of India, with its name translating to “Gateway to God.” Haridwar is located in the northwestern part of the country, and it is bordered to the northwest by the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. People from within cities in India and worldwide come to visit as a pilgrimage and take a dip in the holy river, the Ganges. This holy sacred river is thought to purify you and will pardon all your sins. Har Har Gange!
At Haridwar, people can familiarize themselves with various Hindu rituals, such as floating lamps (known as diyas) with marigold flowers along the holy river, lighting it up in the evening. Many religious festivals are held in Haridwar, and millions of people come and enjoy the city’s atmosphere of intense spirituality. For example, many pilgrims gather there annually at the beginning of the Hindu solar year in April. A Kumbh Mela (a Hindu religious festival) is held every 12th year in Haridwar.
Haridwar has always been a place of interest because it is one of the oldest cities in India. It is a place that has numerous temples with fascinating legacies. At Haridwar, the legend is that Maa Ganga (goddess of the river Ganges), after carrying the purity of heaven from the kamandal of Lord Brahma, washing the feet of Lord Vishnu, and flowing through the sahastrara of Lord Shiva, came to Earth and made Haridwar a divine place.
Vaishno Devi Temple
Vaishno Devi is said to be the mother who fulfills the wishes of all her children. The devotees believe the goddess herself calls them to make the pilgrimage to the temple. People make the journey through a holy cave to see the form of three naturally formed rocks known as pindies. These pindies manifest the goddess’s three forms as Maha Kali, Maha Saraswati, and Maha Lakshmi.
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Vaishno Devi is a religious trekking destination managed by the Holy shrine board, which was incepted in 1986. To reach the temple/mandir, pilgrims must walk about 13km uphill to reach the caves. This journey takes about six to nine hours, depending on the weather and individual’s pace. Ponies, Palanquins, and helicopter services are available by various vendors to take you up there. The whole way is paved with lots of shops selling snacks, food, and religious goods. Jai Mata Di!
Interesting Fact: More than one million devotees visit the Vaishno Devi temple each year. Many people come from cities in India and from around the globe.
Mathura is one of the cities in India, located in the state of Uttar Pradesh. It’s located 55kms north of Agra. In Hinduism, Mathura is believed to be the birthplace of Lord Krishna. The Krishna Janmasthan Temple Complex is one of the seven cities in India considered sacred and holy by Hindus from around the world.
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There are so many religious sites in Mathura because it was the birthplace of Lord Krishna. Krishna is considered the reincarnation of Lord Vishnu. People can listen to the sounds of hundreds of flutes playing throughout the city and experience the feeling of love and happiness. Holi is the most popular Hindu festival in Mathura, and millions of people from around India and the globe come to Mathura to enjoy this colorful festival.
Top 8 Temples to Visit in Mathura
Shree Krishna Janmabhoomi Temple
This holy temple is said to be made 5,000 years ago by Shri Krishna’s grandson, Vajra. The temple was partly destroyed and rebuilt in 1965, with the historical center remaining unchanged. The ancient prison cell where it is believed that Lord Krishna was born on a stormy night has not been modified.
The Dwarkadhish Temple is the largest Hindu temple in Mathura and was built by Seth Gokuldas Parikh. This temple is dedicated to the great Lord Krishna, also known as Lord Dwarkadheesh. The Dwarkadhish Temple is quite grand; it’s five stories tall and is supported by 72 pillars. This holy shrine features many statues of Hindu Gods. However, one of the main attractions is carvings and paintings of Lord Krishna and his beloved Radha.
This holy temple features inscriptions from the Gita, a sacred book of the Hindus. The central chamber of the shrine features an exquisite statue of Lord Krishna. The temple is home to many stunning statues of Hindu Gods, such as the beautiful marble stone figures of Lord Indra on his elephant and the eye-catching chariot with Lord Krishna as its driver and Arjuna (Lord Krishna’s best friend) as the passenger.
Jugal Kishore Temple
The Jugal Kishore Temple is also known as the Kesighata Temple because it’s situated near Kesi Ghat, another religious site in Mathura. Kesi Ghat is a place where Lord Krishna had killed Kesi, who was the horse demon. The presiding deity of this breathtaking temple is Lord Vishnu, who goes by the name of Lord Sri Ranganatha, or Rangji.
Kesava Deo Temple
The ancient Kesava Temple is one of the most sacred places to visit in Mathura. The temple is said to be thousands of years old. Many priests and devotees believe a trip to this holy temple will complete your pilgrimage journey. The ancient temple is known to host many major Hindu festivals, such as Chhappan Bhog, Lathmar Holi, and Krishna Janmashtami.
Banke Bihari Temple
The gorgeous Banke Bihari Temple was built in the late 18th century in a beautiful Rajasthan style. This temple has millions of devotees, making it the richest temple in Uttar Pradesh.
The ancient temple is named after Lord Shiva, also known as Shri Bhuteshwar Mahadev, located in Bhuteshwar Tiraha in Mathura. This sacred temple was established after Shri Bhuteshwar Mahadev defeated the evil demon named Madhu. Many tourists from around the world come to visit this ancient temple. This beautiful temple is located on a narrow street near the road. It allows devotees to find parking easily, which is typically difficult in all cities in India!
Chamunda Devi Temple
Chamunda Devi Temple in Mathura is one of the most important spiritual retreats of all cities in India. This event is also mentioned in the sacred text of Shrimad Bhagwat Gita. It is believed that in satyug (Golden Age of God), Lord Krishna offered salvation to a python, after which he went to seek blessings from Maa Chamunda at this temple.
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Mansa Devi Temple
Chandigarh Mansa Devi Temple is a famous shrine located at Panchkula, about 8km away from the city. This holy place is dedicated to Mata Mansa Devi. There are two temples located in Chandigarh. The main temple was established in the year 1815 A.D by the ruler of Mani Majra. Near the Mansa Devi Temple (Mandir) is a beautiful garden that consists of sacred plants. During Navratras, fairs and festivals take place around the surrounding areas of the temple. Check out the PML Holidays Tours for more Mansa Devi Temple information.
Jwala Devi Temple
Jwaladevi Temple is located in Shaktinagar, which is the Sonbhadra district of Uttar Pradesh. Jwala Devi Temple is one of the 51 Shakti Peeths of India.
The Shakti Peetha are significant shrines and pilgrimage destinations in Shaktism, the goddess-focused Hindu tradition. There are 51 Shakti Peethas by various accounts, of which 18 are named as Maha (major) in ancient Hindu texts. Most of these historical places of goddess worship are in cities in India, but there are seven in Bangladesh, three in Pakistan, three in Nepal, and one in China and Sri Lanka.
The legend behind the Shakti Peethas is the story of the self-immolation of the goddess Sati. Vishnu had to cut her body into 51 body parts, which fell on Earth and became sacred sites. There were many legends in ancient and modern sources that document this evidence. A guided tour by PML Holidays called Nau Devi Himachal Tour will give a better glimpse into these beautiful cities of India.
Naina Devi Temple is located in Nainital, a popular hill station in the Indian State of Uttarakhand. The Nainital city is set in a valley containing an eye-shaped lake called Naini lake, approximately two miles in circumference. It is believed that this Naini lake was formed by tears falling from the Goddess’ eyes.
This holy place witnesses a huge crowd of pilgrims and devotees the whole year, especially during Shravan Ashtami and in the Navratras of Chaitra & Ashwin. A special fair is organized during Chaitra, Shravan, and Ashwin Navrati, attracting millions of visitors from Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and other corners of the country. This temple is a famous Hindu pilgrimage site and one of the fifty-one Shakti Peethas in India.
The presiding deity of the Naina Devi Temple is Maa Naina Devi or Mata Sati. In Hindu mythology, the temple is built on the spot where Goddess Sati’s eyes fell when Lord Vishnu cut her body into 51 different parts. Inside the beautiful Naina Devi Temple, you will find the two eyes on the roof, depicting Goddess Naina Devi, placed in the center, with the statues of Goddess Kali and Lord Ganesha surrounding it. The city of Nainital got its name from the Naina Devi Temple and is considered one of the holiest cities in India. As you climb the hill to reach the temple, various shops sell holy food (“prasad”) and other essential prayer items along the way.
Situated a little further up the Ganges River than Haridwar, Rishikesh is considered the birthplace of yoga in India. It’s renowned for its many ashrams and divine atmosphere. Rishikesh, also known as Hrishikesh, is a city governed by Rishikesh Municipal Corporation and a tehsil (“township”) in the Dehradun district of the Indian state Uttarakhand. It’s located in the foothills of the Himalayas in northern India. It is known as the “Gateway to the Garhwal Himalayas.”
A Ganga Aarti is also held every evening in Rishikesh, at Parmarth Nitekan Ashram, the most prominent ashram in Rishikesh. Adventure activities, such as river rafting, are popular among tourists. You’ll also find several Hindu temples in Rishikesh. The feel of the Ganges River is more natural in Rishikesh, where it flows freely. This is in contrast to Haridwar, where it’s directed through a series of man-made channels.
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If you’re a western spiritual seeker, you should head to Rishikesh. Plenty of foreigners go there to study yoga, as it has a much more international feel than other cities in India, such as Haridwar. There are cafes that serve western food, inexpensive guesthouses and backpacker hostels full of travelers, book stores, clothing stores, and healing centers that offer Reiki and Ayurveda, yoga, and meditation. This is one of the most popular cities in India for tourists.
Amritsar is one of the cities in India located in the state of Punjab. Amritsar is considered the most important and sacred city of Punjab. It is considered holy because of the Harmandir Sahib, known as “The Golden Temple,” which is the most sacred and divine Gurudwara in all of India. The Golden Temple is visited not only by Sikhs but also by people from all over the world. More than 100,000 people visit this breathtaking temple every day.
This beautiful and divine temple is surrounded by narrow lanes and a busy market area. The temple has four entrances, which signify that people belonging to every walk of life are equally welcome, whether they are from cities in India or outside of India.
The Golden Temple was first built without any gold coating. After a lot of restructuring, it was rebuilt by Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1830 with marble and gold. The total gold weight used in making the temple is more than 750kgs. The Golden Temple architectural style contains a gorgeous combination of gold, marble, and copper and is one of the most recognizable structures of all the cities in India.
Insider Tip: Always have a head covering at The Golden Temple. Scarves are provided in bins located at the entrance of the Temple.
Traveling through the holy cities in India, everyone is sure to emerge enlightened, or at least with a spectacular appreciation of the vast history behind these ancient monuments. Many of those who have visited these holy cities speak highly of their spiritual journey while exploring these sites. All travelers agree that visiting any of these cities in India is truly a once-in-a-lifetime trip that leaves you with wonderful memories to cherish forever!
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