|*Map showing religious places in India.|
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India is a nation that believes in the ideology of unity in diversity. It is an abode to different religions, cultures, traditions, ethnic values and customs. Over 80% of India's population practice Hinduism. Other major religions in India are Sikhism, Jainism, Christianity, Buddhism and Islam.
There are a large number of temples, mosques, gurudwaras, churches and monasteries which are visited by people from different religions. These religious sites are the places where the physical world meets the spiritual world and where the hearts are filled with divine holiness and spirituality. India is a 'Land of Faith', where the spiritual air has a fragrance of Karma, Dharma and Forgiveness. The secular India believes in the philosophy of sarva dharma sambhava, which means equality and respect for all religions. The religious places in India are not confined to any particular region or state but are spread across the country.
Following are some religious places categorised on the basis of religions and beliefs in India:
Char Dhams: For a Hindu, Char Dham Yatra is a complete pilgrimage. The four pilgrimage sites are located in four different directions.
Badrinath Temple - Located in Uttarakhand, it is a temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu.
Jagannath Temple - Dedicated to Lord Jagannath in Puri, Odisha; it is popular for its annual Rath Yatra.
Rameswaram Temple - Located in Rameswaram in the South, it is dedicated to Lord Shiva.
Dwarakadhish Temple - This temple, dedicated to Lord Krishna, is situated in Dwarka, Gujarat.
In the Himalayas, there is a pilgrimage circuit in Uttarakhand, known as Chota Char Dham- Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri.
Amarnath: Located in Jammu and Kashmir, the holy shrine Amarnath is devoted to Lord Shiva. Every year, a yatra to the Amarnath cave is held for the pilgrims to worship the ice stalagmite Lingam.
Vaishno Devi: Situated on the Trikuta Mountains in Jammu and Kashmir, this shrine is dedicated to Maa Vaishno. There are three natural rock formations known as Pindies which are worshipped here.
Kamakhya Temple: Located in Guwahati, Assam, it is one of the oldest Shakti Peethas dedicated to Goddess Kamakhya. Thousands of tantra devotees attend the annual festival, Ambubachi Mela, held in this temple.
Tirumala Venkateswara Temple: Located in Tirupati, this temple is devoted to Lord Venkateswara, who is also known by different names such as Balaji, Srinivasa and Govinda.
Siddhivinayak Temple: Devoted to Lord Ganesha, this is one of the most popular temples in Mumbai. It has also gained popularity due to visits by politicians and bollywood celebrities besides common people.
Shirdi Sai Temple: Located in Shirdi, Maharashtra, it is a holy shrine of Shirdi Sai Baba. The temple, visited by a large number of devotees every year, is spread in an area of approximately 200 sq. meters.
Somnath Jyotirlinga: Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this place, located in Gujarat, is a source of spirituality and divinity among many Hindu pilgrims. It is the first among the twelve jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva in the country.
Meenakshi Amman Temple: The Meenakshi Amman Temple in Madurai is dedicated to Goddess Parvati who is also known as Meenakshi.
Brahma Temple: The Brahma Temple in Pushkar is the only temple in the world dedicated to the deity. The temple is believed to be about 2000 years old.
Sabarimala Sree Dharma Sastha Temple: Dedicated to Lord Ayyappa, it is the most popular of the Sastha temples in Kerala. It is one of the only temples in India which is open for people of all religions and faiths.
Kumari Amman Temple: It is the most famous temple in Kanyakumari, devoted to Goddess Kumari Amman, also known as Kumari Bhagavathy Amman. It is one of the Shakti Peethas in India, and is the first Durga Temple made by Lord Parasurama.
Shakti Peethas: There are more than 50 Shakti Peethas in India. They are dedicated to goddess sati or Shakti. Some of the Shakti Peethas are Chhinnamastika Shakti Peeth at Chintpurni in Himachal Pradesh; Mahalakshmi Temple in Kolhapur, Maharashtra; Kamakshi Amman Temple in Kanchipuram, Tamil Nadu; Chamundeshwari Temple in Mysore, Karnataka; Vishalakshi Temple in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh; Jwala Ji Temple in Himachal Pradesh; Nandikeshwari Shakti Peeth in Nandipur, West Bengal; Vimala (Bimala) Temple in Puri, Odisha; Kalmadhava Shakti Peeth in Amarkantak, Madhya Pradesh and many more.
Mathura-Vrindavan: Lord Krishna was born in Mathura and spent his childhood in Vrindavan. These places have many temples dedicated to Lord Krishna and his beloved Radha.
Haridwar: It is located in Uttarakhand and is considered as an ideal place to start a pilgrim journey to Mount Kailash.
Varanasi: Also known as Kashi, this ancient city is also referred as the holy city of India. The ghats and the temples of the city attract large number of Hindu devotees.
Besides the above mentioned prominent places, there are innumerable temples in India and religious destinations like Allahabad, Ujjain, Nashik, Rishikesh, Gaya, Madurai, Mahabaleshwar and many more hold their significance and importance especially among the Hindus.
Hazratbal: The shrine of Hazratbal is located in Srinagar and is popular because it contains the relics of Prophet Mohammad. The devotees are allowed to view the relic only once a year and therefore, it attracts a large number of pilgrims during this occasion.
Jama Masjid: Built by Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, this mosque is located in Old Delhi. It contains some relics of the Muhammad and can accommodate thousands of devotees to worship together.
Cheraman Juma Masjid: Situated in Kerala, it is considered to be the first mosque in India. Malik Ibn Dinar, the first follower of Prophet Muhammad built it in 629 A.D.
Taj-ul-Masajid: This mosque in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh is one of the biggest mosques in Asia. The literal meaning of the name of this mosque is crown-among-mosques.
Mecca Masjid: This Hyderabad-based masjid is one of the largest masjids in India. It is constructed from the bricks which were made by the soil brought from Mecca, the holiest Islamic site.
There are numerous mosques and dargahs in India. Some of the important mosques in India are Aasfi Masjid, Lucknow; Charminar, Hyderabad; Moti Masjid, Delhi; Sir Syed masjid, Aligarh; Tipu Sultan Shahi, Kolkata and many more.
Golden Temple: The Golden Temple of Amritsar, also known as Harminder Sahib, is considered as the most prominent shrine of the Sikhs. The four doors of the temple symbolise that it is open for people of all religions and beliefs.
Anandpur Sahib: It is known as 'the holy city of bliss' and is a part of Rupnagar district in Punjab. Takht Sri Keshagarh Sahib is the main gurudwara and major attraction in Anandpur Sahib.
Damdama Sahib: Located in Bhatinda, Punjab, it is the 'Seat of Temporal Authority' and is one of the most revered takhts of the Sikhs.
Patna Sahib: Takht Patna Sahib, also known as Takht Sri Harmandir Ji, is the birthplace of the tenth guru Sri Guru Gobind Singh and is situated in Patna, Bihar.
Hazur Sahib: Takht Sachkhand Shri Hazur Abchalnagar Sahib is located in Nanded, Maharashtra, and is one of the five takhts of the Sikhs. It is also one of the highest temporal seats of authority and is the place where Guru Gobind Singh Ji took his last breath.
Hemkund Sahib: Located in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand, it is dedicated to the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh Ji.
Gurudwara Paonta Sahib: The Paonta Sahib Gurudwara is dedicated to Guru Gobind Singh Ji and is situated in Sirmour district of Himachal Pradesh. It has a religious significance as it houses the book Dasam Granth, written by Guru Gobind Singh Ji.
Bangla Sahib Gurudwara: Located in central Delhi, this place earlier belonged to Raja Jai Singh but was later transformed into a gurudwara in the memory of Guru Har Kishan Ji.
Rakab Ganj Gurudwara: This Delhi-based gurudwara stands as homage to Guru Tegh Bahadur as his headless body was incinerated here after he was slaughtered by the Mughals.
Sis Ganj Gurudwara: It is one of the oldest and the historical gurudwaras in Delhi. It is dedicated to Guru Tegh Bahadur and his disciples who were beheaded in Chandni Chowk by the Mughals.
Bascilica of Bom Jesus: Located in Goa, it is the first Indian church to be brought to the status of Minor basilica and is known for the tomb of St. Francis Xavier.
St. Cajetan Church: This Goa-based Church has a structure similar to that of St. Peter's Church in Rome. The church is an example of Renaissance and Christian architecture.
St. Francis of Assisi: Located in Goa, it is a former palace of the Archbishop and connects the Se Cathedral to the Church of St. Francis of Assisi and the Convent. It was a convent before but later converted into a church in 1521 for the Franciscan friars.
Santa Cruz Basilica: This church in Kerala was originally built by the Portuguese and elevated to a cathedral in 1558 AD by Pope Paul IV. After experiencing demolition and reconstruction, it was finally proclaimed a Basilica by Pope John Paul II in 1984.
Little Mount Church: The Shrine of Our Lady of Good Health is a popular church in Chennai and is one of the oldest churches in the country.
Cathedral Church of St. Thomas: This is the first Anglican Church of the Mumbai city. Its foundation was laid in 1672 and was completed in 1718 after which it was open for general public.
Christ Church & St. Michael's Cathedral: Situated on the popular Mall Road of Shimla, Himachal Pradesh, this church is considered to be the second oldest church of North India.
Cathedral of the Sacred Heart: This Roman Catholic cathedral is one of the oldest churches in Delhi. Here, the Christian religious services are held throughout the year.
Kanpur Memorial Church: It was originally known as All Souls' Cathedral and was built in 1875 in the honour of the British who lost their lives during the war of 1857.
Other popular churches in India are Church of St. Andrew, Church of St. Francis Xavier, Cathedral Church, Church & Cathedral of St. Monica, The Chapel of Our Lady of the Mount and Mater Dei Church. All these churches are located in Goa. Some other renowned churches outside Goa are Catholic Church, Sardhana; St. Joseph's Roman Church, Gorakhpur; St. Thomas Shrine, Palayur; St. Francis Church, Cochin; Parumala Palli, Kerala; Santa Cruz Basilica, Cochin and many more.
Bodh Gaya: It is the biggest pilgrim center for the Buddhists in Bihar, and holds significance as Gautama Buddha is believed to have obtained 'enlightenment' here under the 'bodhi tree'.
Sarnath: Sarnath in Uttar Pradesh is a place where Buddha delivered his first teaching on Dharma.
Kushinagar: This place in Uttar Pradesh holds religious significance as here Gautama Buddha breathed his last and attained Parinirvana after his death.
Vaishali: Vaishali in Bihar is the birthplace of the last Jain Tirthankara, Mahavira, and is therefore an important religious place for the Jains. It also holds significance for the Buddhists as Gautama Buddha preached his last sermon here before his death.
Pavapuri: This is a holy place in Bihar where Lord Mahavira attained salvation.
Besides these places, there are many other famous Jain temples in the country. Few of such renowned temples are:
Gomateshwara Temple: Lord Gomateshwara or the Great Bahubali is located at Shravanabelagola, Karnataka and is one of the largest temples in the city.
Sonagiri Temples: There are many Digamber Jain temples scattered along with the main temple in Sonagiri, Madhya Pradesh. These are white coloured temples situated on a hill.
Lal Mandir: Sri Digambar Jain Lal Mandir situated in Chandni Chowk, New Delhi, is dedicated to Lord Parshavanath.
Palitana Temples: Dedictaed to Svetambara Jains and situated in Bhavnagar, Gujarat, they are about thousand in number and are scattered on Shatrunjaya hills. The Jains believe that a visit to these temples at least once in a lifetime is essential in order to attain salvation or nirvana.
Bawangaja Temple: It is known for the world's tallest statue of first Jain Tirthankar, Adinatha and is situated in Barwani district of Madhya Pradesh.
The religious places of the Jews were divided and built by three different Jewish groups:
Cochin Synagogues: The Paradesi Synagogue in Cochin (Kochi) is the oldest synagogue in Commonwealth of Nations. The people of Cochin Jewish community or the Malabar Yehudan built it in 1567.
Bene Israel Synagogues: In the late 18th to early 19th centuries, the Bene Israel Jews settled in Ahmedabad, Mumbai and Pune and built most synagogues in the country. Sha'ar HaRachamim, Mumbai; Magen Abraham, Ahmedabad; and many more in Konkan, Panvel and Alibag, Maharashtra; are few of the synagogues of Bene Israel.
Baghdadi Synagogues: The Sassoon family (descendants of Iraqi Jews) supported the construction of the Baghdadi synagogues in India. These synagogues generally have Holy Arks where Sefer Torahs are stored. The Magen david Synagogue in Byculla, Maharashtra; the Keneseth Eliyahoo Synagogue in Mumbai and the Ohel-david Synagogue in Pune are some of the Baghdadi Synagogue in India.
Dargah of Moinuddin Chisti: Popularly known as Ajmer Sharif, this Dargah has a belief that no prayer gets unanswered here. The grave (Maqbara) of Moinuddin Chisti, a revered saint, is situated in the shrine. Not only Muslims, but people from different religions offer their prayers at this holy place.
Haji Ali Dargah: Located on an islet in Mumbai, it is one of the recognisable landmarks of the city. The tomb of Shah Bukhari and Sayed Peer Haji Ali are situated in this dargah. Thousands of devotees visit this shrine every year to offer Chaddar and prayers.
Nizamuddin Dargah: Located in Delhi, it is a shrine of Sufi saint Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya.
Chirag-i-Delhi Dargah: This Delhi-based dargah is a mausoleum of Sufi saint Hazrat Nasiruddin Mahmud Chiragh Dehlavi, who is titled as Raushan Chirag-i-Dilhi, which means the illuminated lamp of Delhi.
Piran Kaliyar Sharif: Situated a few kilometers away from Roorkee at Kaliyar village in Haridwar, it is a dargah of sufi saint Alauddin Ali Ahmed Sabir Kalyari, the first saint of the Sabiriyan branch of Chishti Order.
Hazrat Bu-Ali Shah Qalandar: This dargah in Panipat, Haryana, belongs to sufi saint Sheikh Sharafuddeen Bu Ali Qalandar and was built by a Mughal general, Mahabat Khan.
Tarkeen Dargah: Dedicated to Khwaja Hamiduddin Nagauri, disciple of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti of Ajmer. A major attraction of the dargah is a leafless tree which covers the entire mazaar.
The Sufi dargahs or religious places are open for all. Hence, they are visited by people with distinct religious beliefs in large numbers.
The place of worship of the Zoroastrians is known as fire temple. There are about 150 fire temples in India with majority of them in Mumbai and Gujarat. Some of the popular fire temples in India are Iranshah Atash Behram, Udvada; Vakil Atash Behram, Surat; Maneckji Nusserwanji Chinoy Fire temple, Hyderabad; Seth Hormasji Bomanji Wadia, Mumbai; Mobed Minocherhomji Adarian, Navsari and many more.
The Lotus Temple: This Bahá'í House of Worship, built in 1986 in New Delhi, is notable for its flowerlike shape. A large number of people visit this temple everyday despite their religion and faith.