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.” Located in the northwestern part of the country, 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 sacred river is thought to purify you and pardon all your sins.
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. Religious festivals hold even further draw, and tourists enjoy the city aura of intense spirituality. Many pilgrims gather there annually at the beginning of the Hindu solar year in April, and 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, 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 area.
Vaishno Devi is said to be the mother who fulfills the wishes of 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.
Vaishno Devi is a religious trekking destination managed by the Holy shrine board, which was incepted in 1986. To reach the temple/mandir, pilgrims walk about 13km uphill to reach the caves. This journey takes about six to nine hours, depending on the weather and 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. More than one million devotees visit the Vaishno Devi temple each year, coming from cities in India and from around the world.
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 holy by Hindus.
Read More: 10 Remarkable Benefits From A Trip To Canada
The reason why there are so many religious sites in Mathura is that it was the birthplace of Lord Krishna. Krishna is considered the reincarnation of Lord Vishnu. Visitors can listen to melodious sounds of flutes throughout the city and experience an amazing feeling of love. Holi is the most popular festival in Mathura, and millions of people worldwide come to Mathura to enjoy the great happiness and enthusiasm of this colorful festival.
Top 8 Temples to Visit in Mathura
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.
This beautiful temple is the largest in Mathura. The main attraction of the temple is Lord Dwarkadheesh, who is another form of Lord Krishna. The temple is five stories tall and is supported by 72 pillars. Seth Gokuldas Parikh built it, and the shrine has carvings and paintings of Lord Krishna and his beloved Radha, along with other Hindu Gods.
This holy shrine features inscriptions from the holy book of the Hindus, the Gita. The central chamber has the ornamental statue of Lord Krishna. The temple area also boasts of marble stone figures of Lord Indra on his elephant, horses, tortoise, and a gorgeous chariot with Lord Krishna as its driver and Arjuna as the passenger.
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.
If you’re looking for the oldest sacred places in Mathura, the Kesava Temple is believed to be thousands of years old. It is also believed a trip to this holy shrine will complete your pilgrimage journey. The temple hosts many major festivals, such as Lathmar Holi and Krishna Janmashtami.
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 temple is located in Bhuteshwar Tiraha in Mathura and is among the most sacred places to explore. The presiding deity of Lord Shiva is referred to as Bhuteshwar Mahadev. Mahadev-Ji’s ancient Mahadev Linga is also established here. After the defeat of the Madhu demon, the temple of Shri Bhuteshwar Mahadev-Ji was established. The temple is situated in a narrow street, but just a few steps away from the main road, so you will find parking easily, which is typically difficult in all cities in India!
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. It is believed that in Satyug, Lord Krishna offered salvation to a python, after which he went to seek blessings from Maa Chamunda at this temple.
Read More: 18 Luxury Resorts We Wish We Could Visit
Chandigarh Mansa Devi Temple is a very 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), there 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.
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 medieval 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 the 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. According to 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 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. 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. 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. Adventure activities, such as river rafting, are popular as well. 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.
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 chilled out cafes serving western food, inexpensive guesthouses and backpacker hostels full of travelers, book stores, clothing stores, as well as healing centers offering Reiki and Ayurveda, and yoga and meditation.
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. The Golden Temple is visited not only by Sikhs, but also by people from all over the world. More than 100,000 people visit the 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!
WANT TO READ MORE?