It has about a billion followers and has roots as far back as 1,500 BC. As such, Hinduism is the morther faith of India and the oldest religion on the planet.
You can read about Hinduism until the Brahman cows come home but the only real way to get a sense of the religion, in all its complex, multi-faceted, mystical and glorious forms, is to chart your own personal pilgrimage. With that, here are the subcontinent’s must-see Hindu holy places. Whether you’re a backpacker roaming the beaches of Goa or a business executive holed up in meetings at a luxury Noida accommodation outside of Delhi, let this list be your guide.
As the nexus of the sacred river Ganges and the Himalayas, Haridwar’s role in Hindusim is indispensable. Uttarakhand’s ancient, holy city hosts the mass Kumbh Mela pilgrimage (the world’s largest peaceful gathering) every twelve years.
Mumbai’s mainstay UNESCO World Heritage Site unfurls a priceless collection of rock art linked to the cult of Shiva that dates back to the 6th century.
The spectacular Dwarakadheesh Krishna temple, built in the 16th century, is a major reason why the city of Dwarka, Gujurat is one of India’s seven holiest.
Ujjain, Madhya Pradesh, sits in the heart of the subcontinent. The ancient and small city’s Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga temple is sacred in Shaivism and also hosts the Kumbh Mela pilgrimage.
Vital for worshippers of Supreme Lord Vishnu, Thiruvananthapuram’s Sri Padmanabhaswamy temple in the state of Kerala is nonpareil. The recent discovery of a $18 billion USD treasure in the temple’s ancient recesses have only added to its notoreity.
Mundeshwari Devi Temple
The oldest Hindu temple in the world, let alone India, graces Bihar’s Mundeshwari Hills. The Archaeological Survey of India is currently leading a restoration job and dates the temple to 108 AD.
A simple drive from Agra, Mathura is widely accepted by Hindus as the birthplace of Lord Krishna. The centrepiece attraction in the Uttar Pradesh city is the Sri Krishna Janmbhoomi and Krishna Janmasthan temple complex.
The birthplace of Lord Rama is equally critical to Hindus, most notably as the backdrop of the Ramayana. The sacred town is just two hours from Lucknow in UP.
The 11th century Jagannath Temple draws millions of pilgrims to the Bay of Bengal beach resort city of Puri, Odisha, every year.
This intriguing town of 60,000 in West Bengal is significant for an amalgam of unusual and magnificent terracotta temples built by Hindu kings in the 17th century.
Thiruvilliputhoor Divya Desam
The 2,000 year old Thiruvilliputhoor Divya Desam in Srivilliputhur, Tamil Nadu, is one of the most important Lord Vishnu temples in India. The national government’s seal depicts the temple’s tower.
Varanasi is the holiest Hindu city in India and its value to the faith is impossible to overstate. One of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, the UP pilgrimage destination is overcome with tens of millions of worshippers throughout the year.
For Hindus, Varanasi, and specifically the waters of the Ganges at Varanasi, offers salvation upon death. The city’s Kashi Vishwanath Temple of Shiva, Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple and Durga Temple are paramount places of worship.
When Jarred recently visited India he learnt a lot about the local culture, and how to handle a trip best there. He hopes to inform people about various aspects of travelling to India so they can have the best trip possible.