India is a land of bewildering diversity, many faiths; and going on a pilgrimage tour here is spiritually fulfilling. Many NRIs who settle abroad have ageing parents and grandparents, who long for a trip back home, but because of finances, jobs, or lack of time, it is not always convenient for the entire family to travel together. Many travel companies in India have custom-designed ‘tirth yatras’ (holy pilgrimages) for senior citizen, giving utmost importance to their security, comfort and safety.
Here are few religious destinations that you must plan for your parents:
Vaishno Devi Temple
Located at the foothills of Trikuta Mountain, lies this holiest Hindu temple that draws 8.2 million people annually. Situated in the hills of Katra in Jammu and Kashmir, the temple is dedicated to Adi Shakti. Vaishno Devi Temple is the second most visited religious place in India after the world famous Tirupati Balaji Temple.
Tirupati Balaji Temple
Dedicated to Lord Vishnu, Tirumala Venkateswara Temple or Tirupati Balaji, in Andhra Pradesh, is the richest pilgrimage centre in India. About 50,000 to 1,00,000 people visit the temple every day. The best time to visit the temple is during Brahmotsavam festival, when celebration attracts pilgrims from all over the world.
Located on the banks of River Ganga in Uttar Pradesh, the holy city of Varanasi, is considered as one of the holiest cities in India owing to its location and the innumerable temples in the town. Regarded as the spiritual capital of India, the city draws many Hindu pilgrims who bathe in the Ganges and visit city’s winding streets that have some 2,000 temples, including Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Tulsi Manas Temple, etc.
The Mahabodhi Mahavihara Bodhgaya Temple is located in Gaya district of Bihar. Bodh Gaya is world-famous as this is where Buddha is believed to have attained enlightenment. The Mahabodhi Temple Complex also has a holy Bodhi tree and the Bodhimanda Vihara Monastery that attracts many people from across the world.
Situated at an altitude of 3,888 m (12,756 ft.) near Srinagar, and surrounded by snowy mountains, the cave of Amarnath is considered to be the most famous and holiest shrines of Lord Shiva. A shivling-shaped ice stalagmite is formed annually in the caves due to freezing of water during the month of Sharavan. Thousands of devotees come during this time to the Cave.
Covered in gold, as the name suggests, the Golden Temple also known as Harmandir Sahib is an important religious place for Sikhs. This world-famous Sikh Gurudwara situated in India’s Heritage city of Amritsar is regarded as the highest centre of Sikhism. Built by the fifth Guru of the Sikh, Guru Arjan, this ancient temple is famous for its distinctive gold enclosed dome and walls that attracts many visitors from across the world.
It is an old saying that people who visit the Dargah of Sufi Saint Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, at Ajmer, Rajasthan, and pray with pure faith, free their souls. The Dargah not only see Muslim devotees, but people from all faiths and communities. The Dargah is also world-famous for its beautiful Mughal architecture.