India is the largest religiously pluralistic and multiethnic democracy in the world. Home to 1.4 billion people, which is almost one-sixth of the world’s population, India is one of the most religiously and ethnically diverse nations in the world, with some of the most deeply religious societies and cultures.
While 94% of the world’s Hindus live in India, there also are substantial populations of Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, and adherents of folk religions.
The rich and dynamic spiritual air in the country carries the essence of Dharma and Karma to greet your spiritually thirsty souls. It’s no surprise that this South Asian country is rife with sacred sites. We have listed the most beautiful religious places in India for you, where you can go with your friends, family, or yourself to discover peace, enlightenment, and wonder.
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One of India’s holiest places is the beautiful and pious city of Varanasi, where you can find the religious and cultural heartbeat of India. Revered as the most sacred city for Hindus, the Kashi Vishwanath temple in Varanasi attracts many tourists and is located on the Ganges river banks. Devotees of Lord Shiva visit this temple frequently, or at least once in their life. The holy Ganga meandering through the city undoubtedly amplifies the sanctity of Varanasi.
Haridwar is a major pilgrimage center for Hindus located in the state of Uttarkhand. Known as the Gateway of the Gods, the holy city of Haridwar is famous for its temples and ghats where pilgrims bathe to relieve themselves of their sins and achieve salvation. Haridwar hosts the Khumb Mela once every 12 years, which is believed to be the largest congregation of humanity in the world.
Tirupati is known as the abode of the Hindu god Venkateshwara, Lord of the Seven Hills. The Tirumala Venkateswara Temple is situated on the last hill of the Seshachalam range in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh. Like many temples in south India, this holy temple is known for its exquisite architecture. It is also amongst the most visited Hindu temples in India that attracts over 60,000 pilgrims each day.
Also known as the Land of Sai, Shirdi is famous for Shirdi Sai Baba’s shrine, the city’s main attraction. Shirdi is a treasure trove of divine vibrations due to its strong association with the renowned Saint Shri Sai Baba. The three main festivals celebrated here are Ramanavami (March/April), Guru Purnima (July), and Vijayadashami (September). These festivals are celebrated with great devotion and enthusiasm, and zeal for two to four days each.
Somnath Temple is a specimen of fine architecture of one of the 12 Jyotirlingas Shrines of Shiva. This legendary temple has been vandalized numerous times in history, but with the help of some Hindu Kings, the temple was reshaped each time. It is believed that worshipping in Somnath destroys all the sins and misdeeds of the devotees.
The unparalleled reflection of the pious golden tower on the ambrosial nectar (lake) and the horde of pilgrims loitering in the shrine complex urge one to visit this popular religious place in India. Built by the fourth Sikh Guru- Ramdass Sahib Ji, the Golden Temple is the most important Sikh pilgrimage site to visit in India. The temple is surrounded by a pool of clear water that is sacred to Sikhs. The holy water is believed to have healing powers.
Vaishno Devi Temple
Known for being one of India’s most famous ancient shrines, the Vaishno Devi Temple is believed to be Goddess Durga’s dwelling place. Devotees choose different ways, like walking bare feet and crawling all the way up to seek Goddess’s blessing and pay gratitude.
The seaside town of Rameshwaram is home to the Ramanathaswamy Temple, renowned for being a part of one of the twelve Jyotirlingas (Lingam of light) of Lord Shiva in India. Taking a dip in the 23 theerthams(holy water bodies) in and around Ramanathaswamy Temple is an integral part of washing away sins. The temple is dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva and is closely associated with Rama. The temple and the town are considered a holy pilgrimage site for Shaivas and Vaishnavas.
The emerald Ganga, innumerable Hindu temples, and the heavy settlement of yoga centers in Rishikesh redefine spirituality. Preserving the ancient Hindu practice called Yoga, Rishikesh opens the door to a different level of spirituality in India. At Rishikesh, one can praise nature in its most authentic forms and take a chance to lose himself in it.
The Jagannath temple is of utmost importance to the Hindu devotees as it is one of the Char-Dham Pilgrimages. It also serves as a mighty historical structure built about millennia ago, in the year 1078. Millions of people visit Odisha to gain Lord Jagannath’s blessings. The temple is also well-known for the annual chariot festival or Rath Yatra.
Sun Temple is a masterpiece of Indian architecture and an epitome of exquisite architecture and unmatched spirituality. Situated in Konark, Odisha, the Sun Temple boasts massive size and is an incredible example of genius. The Sun God sitting on a majestic chariot depicts the victory of King Narsimhadeva.
The minute you hear the word Ajmer, the Ajmer Sharif Dargah is sure to pop up in your head. As the name suggests, it is a Dargah of Islamic significance built in memory of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti. It is typically a Sufi shrine that sees a hoard of devotees visiting it to experience spiritual peace.
When you are able to get your eyes off the scenic beauty of Kedarnath, the temple is what you must visit. Situated on the banks of the Mandakini River, the temple is one of the trendy religious places all over India. But it is only open between April and November.
Nestled in the pristine Himalayas, Badrinath in Uttarakhand is a door to unmatched spirituality. It is the place where everything is cuddled by divinity. Badrinath is believed to be the home of Lord Vishnu or Badrinathji, who had come here to meditate after being rebuked by Narad for being too indulgent in worldly affairs. Thus, today Badrinath offers confinement from the materialistic world and takes you a step closer to the Supreme Power.
Situated on the western tip (Gujarat) of India, Dwarka is the land of unparalleled spirituality. Once, the capital of Lord Krishna, when he escaped from Mathura, Dwarka is one of the Char Dham Yatra sites. The white attire of local men keeps up with the sanctity of the place. A fascinating town, the holy city, shall take you back in the time of the Mahabharata.
The birthplace of the Hindu God Krishna, Mathura in the state of Uttar Pradesh can rightly be called a blessed land. Today, the town is dotted with many temples, including the Krishna Janmabhoomi Temple that is thronged by a large number of devotees all through the year.
Nashik is a historically, mythologically, socially, and culturally significant city in the northern part of the state of Maharashtra in India. It is known for the temples on the Godavari banks, and it has historically been one of the holy sites of the Hindu religion. Nasik is well known for being one of the Hindu pilgrimage sites of the Kumbh Mela, held every 12 years in the Trimbakeshwar Shiva Temple.
South India is famous for its number of temples. One of the most popular is Meenakshi Amman Temple which is beautifully designed by architects and is located on the banks of River Vaigai. It attracts around 15,000 people every day who pray to the almighty here.
Kanchipuram, in the state of Tamil Nadu, is one of the most sacred cities in southern India and the second holiest after Varanasi. Also known as “The City of Thousand Temples,” Kanchipuram is an important religious pilgrimage for Hindus. People travel from far and wide to admire the magnificent stone carvings, chariot processions, and shrines.
Khajuraho is famous for its artistic temples built by the Chandela rulers between the 10th and 12th Centuries. The Khajuraho Temples are a group of shrines dedicated to both Hinduism and Jainism, located in Madhya Pradesh, India. Known for its breathtaking sculptures and aesthetics, the Khajuraho group of monuments is one of India’s UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Sabarimala in Kerala, also known as God’s Own Country, is the home to the holy and temple of Lord Ayyappa on the magnificent Western Ghats of the region. It is surrounded by thick, lush green forests and almost 18 hills. Around 40 to 50 million devotees visit this temple every year, especially during the annual festival of Makaravilakku.
The Shravanabelagola temple is a holy place for the Jains and is world-renowned for the majesty of Lord Gomatheeswara towering over everything around. It is one of the most religious sites for the Jain community attracting millions of devotees annually. The Shravanabelagola Gomatheeswara statue is the largest monolithic idol in the world. It spans centuries with different ruling dynasties and kings adding their contributions and living historical evidence of the last millennia.
Vrindavan is the holy town of Uttar Pradesh, northern India. The Hindu deity Krishna is said to have spent his childhood here. It’s home to temples, many dedicated to Krishna and his lover, the deity Radha. The city is most vibrant and beautiful during the holy Hindu festivals of Lord Krishna’s birthday known as Janmashtami and Holi—the festival of colors.
The temple at Srisailam is an ancient and sacred place of South India. The presiding deity of the place is Brahmaramba Mallikarjuna Swamy, in natural stone formations in the shape of Lingam. It is listed as one of the twelve Jyotirlingams existing in the country.
The Murudeshwar temple is built on the Kanduka hill in the quaint town of Murudeshwar which lies in the Bhatkal Taluk of the north Kannada district. As a result, it is surrounded by beautiful views of the Arabian Sea, which falls on three sides of the temple.
Amarnath is famed for the Linga that is created naturally by ice here every year. The Amarnath Yatra is an annual event in which pilgrims are allowed to trek to the cave temple. The holy Amarnath Cave is situated in the beautiful state of Jammu and Kashmir and can only be reached after a rigorous trekking expedition. The cave holds importance as one of the ancient pilgrimages in India.
Ranakpur Jain Temple (also known as Chaturmukha Dharana Vihara) is a Jain temple dedicated to Tirthankara Rishabhanatha. Ranakpur Temple is one of the largest and most important temples in Jain culture. It is considered one of the five most sacred places for Jains. Adinath, Neminath, Parshvanath, Surya, and Amba Matha are the deities worshipped here.
Ayodhya is regarded as one of the seven sacred cities of the Hindus, revered because of its association in the great Indian epic poem Ramayana with the birth of Rama and with the rule of his father, Dasharatha. The Ram Mandir is currently under construction at the site of Ram Janmabhoomi, Lord Rama’s birthplace.
Prayagraj is believed to be the most important pilgrimage center for Hindus. Traditionally river confluences are regarded as auspicious places, but in Sangam, the confluence’s significance is most pious because here, the holy Ganga, Yamuna, and the mythical Saraswati meet to become one. The Maha Kumbh Mela, celebrated once every 12 years, is one of India’s largest religious congregations, attended by millions.
Bodh Gaya is a religious site and place of pilgrimage associated with the Mahabodhi Temple Complex in the Gaya district in the Indian state of Bihar. It is famous as Gautama Buddha is said to have attained Enlightenment under what became known as the Bodhi Tree.
Known for its idyllic beaches and pristine waters, Gokarna is a small temple town on the western coast of India in the Kumta taluk of Uttara Kannada district of the state of Karnataka. The main temple is Sri Mahabaleshwara Swamy Temple Gokarna and the chief deity is Shiva, also known as Mahabaleshwara. This temple houses what is believed to be the original image of Shiva’s linga (Atmalinga).
Jagatpita Brahma Mandir is a Hindu temple situated at Pushkar in the Indian state of Rajasthan, close to the sacred Pushkar Lake, to which its legend has an indelible link. The temple is one of the very few existing temples dedicated to the Hindu creator-god Brahma in India and remains the most prominent among them.
Gangotri is believed to be the abode of goddess Ganga. The river Ganga originates from the Gangotri glacier and is known as Bhagirathi. The striking presence of the snow-clad mountains in the vicinity and the pure crystal clear water of the Ganges flowing around adds to the place’s sanctity. Religious rituals are in full swing in the Gangotri temple, with the Arti ceremony performed by the pujaris of the Semwal family.
Sarnath is a Buddhist pilgrim spot located near Varanasi. The city is famous for being the first place where Lord Buddha preached for the first time after gaining enlightenment. Later, kings who followed Buddhism, like King Ashoka, built many stupas and structures focused on Buddhism. Sarnath temple is believed to be the first place where Lord Budha delivered His first sermon of the five principles that lead to Nirvana.
Manikaran is a pilgrimage center for Hindus and Sikhs. A visit to the Manikaran Temple gives an inclusive mental and spiritual fulfillment to every devotee. This shrine of Lord Shiva is situated at the height of 2650 meters from sea level, in Manikarn town in the Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh. Every visitor is amazed to get freezing water in the Parvati River on the one side and boiling hot water spring on the other.
Chitrakoot is a famous pilgrimage center in the Satna district in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India. It is a place of religious, cultural, historical, and archaeological importance, situated in the Bundelkhand region. It is a forested hill skirted all along its base by a chain of temples and is revered today as the holy embodiment of Rama.
Situated in one of the country’s most scenic locations, Hemkund Sahib adds charm to religious tours in India. Unlike other Sikh pilgrimages in India, Hemkund Sahib has a pentagonal structure. The scenic beauty of the place is worth mentioning as this shrine is nestled amidst lofty hills that are covered with snow.
The source of River Yamuna, the Yamunotri temple, is also one of the Char Dham pilgrimage sites. It is surrounded by mountains on all sides and lies in close proximity to the Indo-China border. It is known for offering peace and tranquillity to its visitors.
Jwalamukhi is a famous temple to the Goddess Jwalamukhi, the deity of the flaming face. The temple is situated overlooking the Dhauladhar range and set amidst undulating hills. The temple consists of a copper pipe that emanates natural gas, lit by the temple’s priest to form a flawless blue flame. The flame is worshiped as the manifestation of the Goddess Jwalamukhi.
Contrary to the shaming treatment that menstruation gets elsewhere in India, at the Kamakhya Temple, it is worshiped as a woman’s ability to conceive. Located on the Nilachal Hill in the capital city of Guwahati, the deity of the temple, Kamakhya Devi, is revered as the ‘Bleeding Goddess, considering this to be a woman’s power to give birth.
Deoghar Vishnu Temple is also known as the Dashavatara temple indicating the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu in Hindu mythology. It is among India’s oldest stone temples and the earliest Panchayatan temple still existing. This place was under the rule of important dynasties like the Guptas, the Pratiharas, the Gondas, the Marathas. As a result of all these, the area has a tremendously rich architectural and archaeological history.
Literally meaning “mouth of a cow,” Gomukh is the glacier from where the Bhagirathi River originates. Gaumukh is one of the holiest places for Hindu pilgrims and Indian tourists who come here to witness the beauty and take blessings of Goddess Ganga. It is situated at the Gangotri glacier and is thronged by devotees mainly for its serenity and pious mythological history. It is a well-known pilgrimage site as well as a trekking location.
Devprayag is a beautiful showcase of traditions, myths, and mysticism. This is where the holy rivers Bhagirathi and Alaknanda meet, merge into one and take the name ‘Ganga.’ Devprayag is a pilgrimage center of great significance. The main temple of the town is the ‘Raghunath Temple,’ dedicated to Lord Rama.
Akshardham Mandir, or the Swaminarayan Akshardham complex, in Delhi is a quintessential Hindu shrine epitomizing Indian culture, architecture, and spirituality. The exquisite temple is dedicated to Swaminarayan, an Indian yogi and spiritual soul who existed during the 18th century. Touted as the world’s largest comprehensive Hindu temple by the Guinness World Record, Delhi’s Akshardham is known for its aesthetic beauty, unique exhibitions, sprawling campus, and tranquillity.
Jama Masjid (the mosque of Friday), Delhi, is the country’s largest and perhaps its most magnificent mosque. The great mosque of Old Delhi is the final architectural extravagance of the Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. Its spacious yard welcomes thousands of faithful who offer their prayers here.
Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple, situated in Thiruvananthapuram, is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. It is one of the wealthiest temples in India. An inventory unveiled a significant priceless treasure. Massive piles of jewels, idols, and coins were uncovered. The temple is one of 108 centers of worship in Vaishnavism.
A one of a kind village in India, and probably the world, Shani Shingnapur is famous for the fact that no house here has any doors. Residents of the town feel little need for security, thanks to their belief in superior protection from the Hindu deity Shani, whose famous temple is located here.
Dhakshineshwar Kali Temple
Located on the Hooghly River banks, the Dakshineshwar Kali Temple is one of the most popular places of worship not only in Kolkata but all across eastern India. The Dakshineswar Kali Temple is not just any other temple dedicated to Goddess Kali. The temple has also been an essential part of West Bengal’s history.
Tarapith is famous for the temple of Tara ma and sadhana pith of Sadhak – Bamakhyapa. The deity of Tara is enshrined inside the temple. It is a unique temple for more reasons than one. The worship here includes blood offerings. The intense rituals and the hymns sung here also contribute to make this temple an exceptional one.
Belur math is a place of pilgrimage for people of different religious faiths. This place of religious importance is visited by people from all over India and abroad. The main gate of Belur math leads to the Ramkrishna Sarada Mandir. The awe-inspiring majesty of the temple coupled with its austere simplicity spontaneously kindles devotion.