Char Dham, meaning ‘four abodes’, is the pilgrimage circuit around the four most revered pilgrimage sites in all India. These are in Badrinath, Dwarka, Puri and Rameshwaram. Over time, another Char Dham pilgrimage circuit has developed, in Uttarakhand state in North India. It is known as Chota Char Dham, ‘the four small abodes’ or ‘Himalayan Char …

Palani temple is one of the most important temples to the Hindu god Muruga or Kartik, being the third of his Six Holy Abodes (aarupadai veedu). Like most Muruga temples it stands on a hilltop, 100km southeast of Coimbatore and it is buzzling with pilgrims dressed in yellow and green exclaiming ‘Haro Hara’ and dancing …

The “Pancha Bhoota Sthalas” refers to the five temples dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, each of these temples representing the five prime elements of nature; water, air, ether, fire and earth. “Pancha” means five, “Bhoota”, elements and “Sthalas”, place. These temples are all located in the South of India, four in Tamil Nadu and …

Char Dham, meaning ‘four abodes’, is the pilgrimage circuit around the four most revered pilgrimage sites in all India. These are in Badrinath, Dwarka, Puri and Rameshwaram, located at the four cardinal points of the Indian sub-continent. Hindus believe that a pilgrimage or yatra around the Char Dham cities opens the way to moksha, liberation …

The legend has to that Madurai was built where a drop of divine nectar fell from Lord Shiva’s hair. The town is best known for the huge temple dedicated to Meenakshi, a masterpiece of Dravidian art and an important spiritual centre. It is undeniably one of India’s greatest temples.

A stop at Tiruvannamalai is a mystical moment. The town takes its name from Annamalaiyar temple around which it grew, and Shiva worship is a key activity for the town. For Hindus, Arunachala Hill overlooking the town represents Shiva himself and is an object of special devotion. The town is full of hermitages and ashrams …

Tirupati, in Andra Pradesh, is visited by nearly 40 million pilgrims per year making it one of the highest places of pilgrimage in India. This city is famous for the Venkateswara Swami temple dedicated to the Hindu deity Vishnu, commonly called Balaji. According to legend, Tirupati is the ‘Bhuloka Vaikuntam’, that is to say the …

Puri, a major Hindu pilgrimage town, is the abode of residence of Jagganath, “lord of the universe”, one of the aspects of the god Vishnu or his avatar, Lord Krishna. The town is entirely dedicated to him. Puri is also one of the Char Dham, India’s four main pilgrimage centres. Devotion here reaches its peak …

Omkareshwar is one of India’s holiest cities. It is the home of “the Lord of the sound Om“, one of the 12 Jyotir Lingams or “lingams of light”. At Omkareshwar the river Narmada divides into two channels around an island called Shivapuri. The island, 4km long and 2km wide, is said to be in the …

Ujjain stands on the right bank of the Shipra, an affluent of the Ganges. It is one of the oldest holy cities in India. Its various names are Avantika, Pratikalpa, Kanakasrnga, Amaravati, Shivapuri, Chudamani, Kumudvati and also Ujjainyini, “he who conquers with pride”, because it is said to be the place where Shiva triumphed over the …

People don’t come by chance to this ‘city of wonders’. Chitrakoot is a busy, buzzing pilgrimage town vibrating to the sound of the mantra ‘Ram Ram Sita Ram’. The legend goes that Lord Rama, his wife Sita and his brother Lakshmana spent 11 years in exile in the dense forests of Chitrakoot. In ancient time …

Legend has it that the god Brahma named Allahabad “Tirth Raj” or “king of pilgrimage centres”. It is here that the incredible Kumbha Mela is held gathering millions of devotees. “Incredible India”, the country’s official slogan, is no exaggeration here.

Govardhan is a sacred hill 26km from Mathura. It is an important place of pilgrimage for Hindus; to them, Lord Krishna and Govardhan hill are one.

Just as Agra is known for the magnificent Taj Mahal, Amritsar too has its emblematic monument, the famous Golden Temple, spiritual and cultural centre of the Sikh religion. Amritsar (“nectar of immortality”) is also called Guru Nagri, “city of gurus”, referring to the spiritual leaders of the Sikh religion. As well as the famous Golden …

Char Dham, meaning ‘four abodes’, is the pilgrimage circuit around the four most revered pilgrimage sites in all India. These are in Badrinath, Dwarka, Puri and Rameshwaram, located at the four cardinal points of the Indian sub-continent. Hindus believe that a pilgrimage or yatra around the Char Dham cities opens the way to moksha, liberation …

Haridwar, gateway to the sacred! Haridwar is one of India’s seven holiest places or ‘Sapta Puri‘. It is a major pilgrimage centre, with millions of pilgrims flocking to it each year for it it is one of the four places that host the famous Kumbh Mela, the world’s largest religious gathering. This holy city boasts …

To Hindus, the Sapta Puris are the seven holiest cities in India. Sapta means ‘seven’ and puri means ‘town’. These seven holy cities are also called the Sapta Moksha Puris, the ‘seven cities of liberation’ or the Sapta Tirtha, ‘seven places of pilgrimage’.

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