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PIOUS PILGRIMAGES

      India is the land of gods and diverse religions where lies the serenity of its heritage. India is dotted with pilgrimages. Pilgrimage tourism is extremely popular in India. Great religions like Hinduism,Buddhism and Sikhism have originated on the Indian soil. The unity in diversity is the keyword for this grand country.

      Pilgrimage tourism forms an important segment of domestic tourism in India. India as a confluence of different religions has always attracted pilgrims from all over the world. India is home to many religions like Hinduism,Christianity,Sikhism,Buddhism,Jainism,and Islam and all of them have their important places of worship.

      In the North India,some of the holiest places to visit are Varanasi,Prayag (Allahabad),where the Kumbh Mela is held,and Mathura,the birthplace of Lord Krishna. In the East India lies Puri in Orissa that famous for the Jagannath Temple and its Rath Yatra. Rameshwaram and Kanyakumari lie in the South and Dwaraka the kingdom of Lord Krishna in the west. Also places like Tirupati,Vaishnodevi,Shirdi,Shabrimala,Tanjore and Madurai towns are famous for their temples and shrines and very much on a must-visit list.

      Sikh pilgrimage sites in India include the Golden Temple founded by Guru Ram Das,the fourth Sikh Guru. This is the most sacred shrine of the Sikhs and is in the town of Amritsar. Another important pilgrimage site is Anandpur Sahib,where Guru Gobind Singh,the tenth Guru,created the 'Khalsa' or the pure ones by baptising them.

      Jain temples in India are an attraction to all the devotees following Jainism religion. One of the most important Jain pilgrimage sites located in the Karnataka state is the monolithic statue of Bahubali at Sravanabelagola. Also the Mount Abu in Rajasthan where the Dilwara Temple is situated is one of the finest examples of Jain art and architecture.

      Buddhist pilgrimage sites found in Bihar,Uttar Pradesh,Ladakh,and other parts of India are important destinations for millions of people in South East Asia and other parts of the world. Bodh gaya pilgrimage in India is reckoned as the most important Buddhist pilgrimage centre. Also the magnificent Mahabodhi temple in Bodh gaya is an architectural amalgamation of many centuries,cultures and heritages. Vaishali is of special significance to the Buddhists. It is here that Buddha delivered his last sermon and announced his impending Nirvana .

      Christianity has had long and glorious relations with India. History states that St. Thomas sailed to India from Eastern Asia in AD 52 and spent 12 years in India,the last eight of his life in Mylapore in Madras (now Chennai). Also with the advent of Europeans in India from the 15th century onwards led to the mass influx of Christians and subsequent development of Christian worship places. Some of the churches of colonial India are comparable to the best in the world and are as much a part of the heritage of India as its ancient temples. These churches fascinate the visitors with their charm and associated history.

 
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