Worldwide, there are countless people who are spiritually inclined and have lots of questions. Who Am I? What is our purpose in life? Why are we born? Is there life after death? People have these and countless more questions that seek answers. But answers are not readily available and there are numerous different opinions. Many people in countries other than India have realized the answers to these questions can be found in the Vedas, Upanishads, and other religious texts of the Sanatan Dharma. These texts are not easy to read, and even translations are difficult to understand. In their quest for spirituality, people are keen to visit India to know more about the Hindu religion. Millions across the globe have been influenced by ISKCON and other such organizations that preach love for God as prescribed by the Hindu Faith. Check the information about Best Places for Spiritual Enlightenment in India.
Now, if a spiritual seeker is planning to visit the Best Places for Spiritual Enlightenment in India, the first thing to know is which places should be visited Best Places for Spiritual Enlightenment in India. Here we list some of the more important pilgrimages, cities, and temples that should be visited. The vastness of the Hindu religion should be kept in mind. It can take more than a lifetime to even dent it. A journey of 1000 miles begins with the first step. A start is all that’s needed. There can be no better place than India to make that start. Here, is the list of Best Places for Spiritual Enlightenment in India.
Best Places for Spiritual Enlightenment in India
Haridwar and Rishikesh
Among the Best Places for Spiritual Enlightenment in India, Haridwar and Rishikesh are two places where the essence of all pilgrimages can be experienced. This area is known as ‘Dev Bhoomi’ (Land of the Gods). It is the perfect start to a journey into spirituality. Haridwar is the place where the sacred Ganga river meets the plains. This river is the soul of India and an irreplaceable part of every religious ceremony and worship. The Ganga River is the very symbol of Purity. Haridwar has countless temples, big and small. Visiting some of these will open the doors and provide a peek into what the Hindu religion is. Haridwar is home to countless saints, sadhus, and ascetics of every kind. Interacting with them will give many realistic insights into the vastness of Hinduism. They can be found in their ashrams, on the banks of the Ganga River, and in other places. On the river banks, there are many bathing ghats and small temples. Each of them has a story to tell. The iconic Har ki Pauri Ganga Aarti in Haridwar will transport the spiritual seeker into a realm not known before.
Rishikesh is an extension of Haridwar with a slightly different flavor. As in Haridwar, there are numerous temples and sacred spots here. The Ganga river flows through the town. Rishikesh is known as the Yoga capital of the world. There are a number of ashrams and retreats offering Yoga and meditation classes. There are some legendary temples in Rishikesh such as Mansa Devi temple, Nilkanth Mahadev, and Tera Manzil Mandir. Rishikesh is also the gateway to the four very important pilgrimages – Yamunotri (Source of the Yamuna River), Gangotri (Source of the Ganga River), Kedarnath (Abode of Lord Shiva), and Badrinath (Abode of Lord Vishnu). These are collectively known as ‘Char Dham’ (Four abodes of God). Visiting these places is highly recommended if time permits. Rishikesh also has a number of recreational and adventure sports on offer in case of an overdose of spirituality.
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Haridwar - Ekta Bhawan Dharamshala (Near Har Ki Pauri)
Located on the riverfront, just 800 meter from Har ki Pauri and 3 km from the bus stand, Ekta Bhawan in Haridwar offers AC and non AC rooms.
Haridwar - Leela Yatri Bhawan (Near Gujarati Samaj)
Located Only 500 meter from the bus stand, Leela Yatri Bhawan offers two, three and four bedded AC and non Ac rooms.
Haridwar - Nishkam Sewa Trust
Located in a peaceful area 4.8 km from the bus stand, Nishkam Sewa Trust has spacious AC and non Ac rooms as well as a large compound.
Haridwar - Jay Bajrang Bali Dharamshala
Located only 700 meter from the bus stand, Jai Bajrangbali Dharamshala offers two, and three bedded AC and non AC rooms with good amenities.
Haridwar - Modi Bhawan
On the riverfront and only 1.4 km from the bus stand, Modi Bhawan has a charming ambience of its own. Two, four and five bedded AC and non AC rooms
Haridwar - Sant Mandal Ashram (Near Har Ki Pauri)
Located 3.5 km from the bus stand, Sant Mandal Ashram offers two, three and four bedded AC and non AC rooms. Near Har ki Paur, other places of i...
Haridwar - K K Renuka Dharamshala (Near Gujarati Samaj)
Located only 700 meter from the bus stand, K K Renuka Dharamshala offers AC rooms at very affordable rates.
Haridwar - Derawal Bhavan (Near Railway Station)
Located Only 1.5 km from the bus stand, Derawal Bhawan has two, three and four bedded AC and non Ac rooms at affordable prices.
Haridwar - Kasi Annapurna Vasavi Arya Vysya Satram
Located in peaceful surroundings 7 km from the Haridwar bus stand, Kasi Annapurna Vasavi Arya Vysya Satram offers two and three-bedded AC rooms
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Dwarka and Somnath in Gujarat
Lord Krishna has a very important role in Sanatan Dharma (Hindu Religion). Dwarka, on the westernmost tip of India, is the city established by Him after the end of the Mahabharata War. Lord Krishna, the eighth Avatar of Lord Vishnu is the Master of Mysticism. He spent His early life in Mathura and Vrindavan. He then established a new kingdom in Dwarka for the Yadavas. Dwarka is where He spent the rest of His days on earth. The famed Dwarkadhish temple, dedicated to Him is a must-visit. Dwarka has many spots connected with stories from His life and is the perfect place to know more about Shri Krishna. An added bonus here is the Nageshwar Jyotirlinga Temple, a short distance away.
Somnath is a place of immense religious importance as it is home to the first of the twelve Jyotirlinga temples in India. These temples are dedicated to Lord Shiva and it is the aim of every devotee to visit them at least once in this lifetime. The temple here in Somnath was first built by Chandra Dev (the Moon God) and Lord Shiva agreed to reside here forever in the form of a Shivling. This is one of the most iconic temples in India. It has been destroyed multiple times by invaders but rebuilt each time in its full glory.
Kanyakumari, Rameshwaram and Madurai
Kanyakumari is the southernmost tip of India where a lot can be learned about Hinduism. It is home to the Bhagavathy Amman temple and a host of other temples. A memorial to Swami Vivekananda has been built on a rock island about 500 meters from the shore. Swami Vivekananda achieved enlightenment at an early age here on this rock. Another memorial for the great Tamil saint Thiruvalluvar in the form of a statue is nearby. Kanyakumari is the meeting point of the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian sea, and an ancient pilgrimage.
Rameshwaram is one of India’s most significant pilgrimages. This is the place where Shri Rama made a Parthiv Shivling, enshrined it, and worshipped Lord Shiva before constructing a bridge all the way to Lanka. Rameshwaram temple is one of the Jyotirling temples of India and the southernmost one. Besides this, there are a number of other temples and the starting point of the now-vanished bridge, which was built by Shri Rama (Ram Setu). These are certainly worth visiting.
Madurai is the cultural hub of Tamil Nadu, an ancient pilgrimage center and home to the magnificent Meenakshi Amman Temple. This city, which has been in existence since the 3rd century BCE has numerous other temples, historical monuments, and sacred spots.
Trichy, Srirangam, Chennai and Mahabalipuram
Tiruchirapalli, also known as Trichy is another ancient settlement dating back to the 3rd century BCE. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in India. It is a city with numerous historic temples such as the Jambukeswarar, Erumbeeswarar, Samayapuram, and Rockfort temples. Srirangam, a river island is home to the famed Ranganathaswamy temple. Spread over 156 acres of land, Srirangam is the largest functioning temple in the world. Enclosed by thick walls with 21 majestic towers, the Srirangam temple complex is awe-inspiring, to say the least.
Chennai is a place where history, culture, and religion are all merged into one experience. A city that is home to some magnificent ancient temples such as the Kapaleeswarar, Parthasarthy, Thyagaraja, and Ashtalakshmi temples. Chennai is a city where much of history has been enacted and is also dotted with several historic monuments, churches, and heritage structures, besides being a vibrant cultural hub. Classical dance and music forms reach new heights in Chennai.
Mahabalipuram is an ancient port city dating back to the Pallava rule (250 BCE to 850 CE). Mahabalipuram, about 55 km from Chennai is home to a complex of Temples and royal monuments carved from rock in the 7th and 8th centuries CE. These temples depict events from the Mahabharata. The Shore Temple, Five Chariots, Descent of the Ganges and other sculptures in this amazing complex have to be seen to be believed.
Jagannath Puri and Konark
On the eastern coast of India, Jagannath Puri is home to the iconic Jagannath Temple. It is one of the four major spiritual destinations of India along with Rameshwaram, Dwarka, and Badrinath, collectively known as Char Dham. Adi Shankaracharya established one of his four ‘Mathas’ here in Jagannath Puri, known as Govardhan Matha. Jagannath Temple is an iconic and magical temple that has been looted and destroyed several times by invaders, only to be rebuilt. Jagannath means ‘Lord of the Universe’, and from here the Lord blesses the Universe in its entirety. Many great saints such as Adi Shankaracharya, Madhavacharya, Ramanujacharya, Ramananda, Vallabhacharya, and Chaitanya Mahaprabhu have been associated with Jagannath Puri. The annual Rath Yatra festival held on the second day of the Lunar month of Ashadha (June/July) is the soul of this city and a spectacular event. The Murtis (Idols) of Shri Jagannath, Balabhadra, and Subhadra are taken to the nearby Gundicha temple in gigantic chariots known as Raths. New Raths are built every year. This is an event witnessed by millions of devotees from all over the world.
About 30 km distant from Jagannath Puri is the famous town of Konark, known for its Sun Temple built in the 13th century CE. Though now mostly in ruins it was once a magnificent complex of temples and other structures. The sun temple was built in the shape of the giant chariot of Surya Dev (Sun God). The chariot had 12 Intricately carved wheels almost 3 meters wide. Seven horses pulled the chariot. Magnificence and scale acquire an entirely new meaning here. A museum on the premises houses numerous artifacts from the temple complex. Konark is also the venue of the annual Konark Dance festival showcasing classical dance including Odissi. The Chandrabhaga beach in Konark is one of the cleanest and most scenic beaches in Odisha.
Ayodhya, Vrindavan, and Mathura
Shri Ram is the soul of India and Ayodhya is His birthplace. Ayodhya is the city where Shri Ram appeared as the seventh Avatar of Lord Vishnu. This is the city where He grew up, was exiled to the forest for 14 years, and ruled for 11000 years before returning to Vaikunth (His very own Abode). The city abounds with spots connected to Shri Ram, Sita Mata, Raja Dashrath, and Hanuman Ji. Stories and folklore about them are to be heard in every nook and corner. Ayodhya is where the original Ram Janmasthan (Birthplace) temple was. It was destroyed by invaders but is now being rebuilt on a grand scale.
Vrindavan, Mathura, and the adjoining area is known as Brij Bhoomi and is the realm of Shri Krishna and Radha Rani, the Gopis, Yashoda Maiyya, Nanda Raja, and Devki Mata. This is the land of the Yadavas – Shri Krishna’s beloved clansmen. This is the land of the sacred Yamuna River. This is where Shri Krishna danced with the Gopis and brought Yashoda Maiyya to her wit’s end with His pranks.
Brij Bhoomi is the place where Shri Krishna spent the early part of His life before moving to Dwarka. This is where He was born in a tiny prison cell to Devki Mata but was brought up by Yashoda Maiyya. The Krishna Janmasthan temple now stands at that place in Mathura. Besides this temple, there are countless other temples, sacred bathing ghats on the river banks, and much more in Mathura that are worth visiting.
Vrindavan is a temple town with many sites like Nidhivan connected with Shri Krishna’s life. Nidhivan is the forest where Shri Krishna did ‘Ras Leela with Radha Rani and the Gopis. It is said He still comes every night. Entry into Nidhivan is forbidden at night. Over the centuries the memory of Vrindavan had faded away. In the 16th century CE, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu, a great saint visited Vrindavan and located most of the spots connected with Shri Krishna’s life and revived worship. Vrindavan is home to several ancient temples. Among the more prominent are – Banke Bihari, Madan Mohan, Sri Radha Raman, and Gopeshwar Mahadev temples. Newer temples have also come up in Vrindavan including the Krishna Balaram temple built by ISKCON and Prem Mandir.
Other locations in Brij Bhoomi are also very relevant in understanding Shri Krishna’s life here. Nandgaon was the village Shri Krishna lived in. Nearby Barsana was Radha Rani’s village. The festival of Holi is celebrated in unique ways in Brij Bhoomi and particularly in these two villages. It is a highly charged and exuberant event, with celebrations going on for 40 days. Govardhan hill is the very same hill lifted by Shri Krishna to protect the people and cattle from a deluge. A few days in Brij Bhoomi go a long way in a spiritual journey.
For seekers of spirituality – it has been said in the Bhagavad Gita that a genuine interest in God and spiritual matters is an extremely auspicious sign. It is the first step in reaching higher levels. It results in meeting with saints and discussions with them. One’s nature changes for the better once this interest in Godly matters is awakened. Knowledge is gained gradually and useless materialistic aspects of life are discarded. It may take more than one life but the genuine spiritual seeker will be elevated in each life and ultimately unite with God.
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