Tirtha, mandir, bhajan, puja and names of hundreds of gods and goddesses are those meaningful words of mystical world around which Indian culture mainly revolves. The ancient sources of Indian History, the VEDAS and PURANAS not only contain hymns and mantras about the innumerable Hindu deities but narrate the legendary sagas related to each and every, big or small, shrines adorning the country. Among these, few are the ones who become sacred with the beliefs of people and turn into symbolic figures that more and more people love to visit by one or more reason. And from here comes the significance of a spiritual journey. Indian mythology is full of such sacred pilgrimages that not only attract domestic travelers but also foreigners.
Check out these upcoming popular pilgrimage tours in India in 2018 and know what makes Indian mythology so interesting and full of tales and beauty:
Placed at an elevation of 4,632 meters above sea level, Hemkund Sahib is one of the sacred pilgrimage centers for Sikhs in India. Situated in Chamoli district of Uttarakhand, the gurudwara is dedicated to 10th Guru of Sikhism, Guru Gobind Singh. The gurudwara is encircled by seven snow-clad mountains and each one of them is adorned by Nishan Sahib (a triangular flag made either of silk or cotton and bearing the traditional symbol of Khalsa Panth). Besides its religious significance, the glacial lake and high-altitude setting of the gurudwara make it one of the most challenging pilgrimage yatras in India that witnesses high influx of devotees from all the corners of the world. It is the beautiful natural setting of Hemkund Sahib that attracts even non-devotees to the place.
How to Reach – Travelers can access the location of the gurudwara either by foot or by ponies from Govindghat, located about 20 km from Hemkund Sahib Gurudwara. Govindghat is starting point of Hemkund Sahib Trek and is situated about 22 km from Joshimath.
Hemkund Sahib Yatra 2018: Gurudwara Hemkund Sahib opens for pilgrims from May till October every year.
Renowned as one of the most famous pilgrimage yatras in India, Vaishno Devi Yatra is the journey to the holy shrine of Vaishnavi, an appearance of Goddess Durga, situated at the Trikuta Mountains of Jammu region of North India. The shrine is considered one of the most sacred shakti peethas among the total 108. Vaishno Devi shrine basically comprises idols of three deities in the form of black stones, namely, Mahakali, Mahasaraswati and Mahalakshmi. Every year thousands of people from all over the world throng this sacred place, irrespective of their age groups. The shrine is located at a height of about 5,300 feet and is around 61 km from Jammu City but Katra forms the base of the Yatra for visitors. En route to main shrine from Katra falls various other interesting points like Darshani Darwaza, Ban Ganga, Charun Paduka Temple, Adhkuwari, Sanjhichhat and Bhairon Ghati.
How to Reach – The shrine of Vaishno Devi is situated about 61 km from Jammu Tawi and Katra is the last stoppage point from where visitors have to cover a distance of 13 km by foot to reach the main shrine.
Vaishno Devi Yatra 2018: Visitors can plan Vaishno Devi Yatra in any period of the year, though the monsoon period witnesses the lowest number of pilgrims.
Seek blessings of Lord Shiva with a visit to Amarnath Cave that features an ICE LINGAM. Placed at an elevation of 3,888 meters, Amarnath Shrine is located in a narrow gorge. It is one of the major abodes of Lord Shiva and is of high religious value for Shivaities. Amarnath Yatra is said to be one of the toughest pilgrimages in India and is organized during Shavan month (July – August) by the government of Jammu and Kashmir every year. Apart from its religious significance, the expedition to this holy cave is also valuable because it gives visitors a thrilling experience of trekking. Encircled by eye-catching valleys and mountains, the journey will bring devotees quite close to their inner self.
How to Reach – The closest airport is at Srinagar while Jammu Tawi, the largest railway station in J&K, are the main transportation points that connect the state with rest of India.
Yatra Route: There are two routes to the holy cave; one is through Pahalgam and second is via Baltal.
1. Jammu Tawi – Pahalgam – Chandanwari – Pissu Top – Sheshnag – Panchtarni – Amarnath Cave
Amarnath Yatra 2018: Date not announced yet.
Note* Travellers who want to undertake Amarnath Yatra through helicopters do not need to register for the journey as their tickets are considered as yatra permit cards but they have to obtain health certificates too like other visitors. Children below the age of 13 and persons above the age of 75 as well as pregnant lady are not allowed to undertake the yatra.
Reputed as one of the most toughest and sacred religious journey in Hindu sect, Kailash Manasarovar Yatra is a perfect fusion of spirituality, beauty and adventure. The yatra is undertaken by thousands of people every year and holds the supreme position among all the pilgrimage centers devoted to Lord Shiva. That’s why, a visit to Mount Kailash, the abode of the Lord, is considered as a way to attain salvation. The dazzling Mount Kailash is situated in the isolated south-west corner of Tibet region, at an elevation of 6,638 meters. It is one of the highest areas of the mighty Himalaya. Along with Hindus, the shrine also has significant value for Buddhism and Jainism followers. There are various other interesting points located close to the Mount Kailash like Manasarovar Lake, Gauri Kund, Tirthapuri, Yam Dwar, Asthapad, Siwasthal and Tarboche Flagpole.
How to Reach – There are four ways to reach Mount Kailash but the base point of Kailash Manasarovar Yatra is Kathmandu only.
Overland Journey from India: It is a 28-30 days trek and you need to book well in advance for registration as the availability is limited and participants are chosen by a draw. The whole process is administered by the Ministry of External Affairs of India.
Overland Journey from Kathmandu: Reach Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, and from there, start your spiritual yet thrilling expedition to Mount Kailash.
Overland Journey from Lhasa: Visitors first fly to Kathmandu and then to Lhasa through China Air and then further to Kailash Parvat.
Helicopter Journey: It is meant for those who are not comfortable with high-altitude passes and want to finish the Yatra in shortest span of time. The fixed wing aircraft take passengers from Kathmandu to Simikot via Nepalganj. From Simikot, helicopter takes the charge and flies to Hilsa and from there onwards, land cruisers are used to reach the final point.
Note* Kailash Manasarovar Yatra is permitted to only Indian citizen, holding a valid Indian passport and aged between 18 and 70 years. He/she should be medically and physically fit with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 27 or less. People suffering of asthma, diabetes, high blood pressure, epilepsy, heart disease etc are not eligible for the Yatra.
Rath Yatra at Puri in Orissa is one among the most awaited festivity in the country. It is an annual celebration that witnesses around a million devotees and visitors from all the corners of the world. Devoted to Lord Jagannath (an incarnation of Lord Vishnu), the event is one of the biggest and oldest Hindu festivals in India. Also known as the “Chariot Festival”, Rath Yatra is marked on Ashad Shukla Dwitiya (second day in bright fortnight of Ashad month). The main attraction is the procession of three wooden chariots, namely, Nandighosa, Taladhwaja and Devadalana bearing the deities, Lord Jagannath, Lord Balabhadra (the elder brother of Jagannath) and Subhadra (their sister) respectively. This street procession gives even those people a chance to seek blessings of the deities who are forbidden to enter Jagannath Temple.
Jagannath Temple is one among the four holy shrines of Chardham Yatra. The other three are Rameshwaram, Dwarka and Badrinath. Considered as a symbol of equality and brotherhood, the festival starts with a grand ceremony in the morning. Every year, new chariots are constructed but the idols of the deities are replaced by new ones once in 12 years. The Yatra marks the annual journey of the deities to Gundicha Temple (their aunt’s temple).
How to Reach – For travelers willing to take participate in this grand religious celebration, Bhubaneswar is the closest domestic airport from Puri while the nearest international airport is at Kolkatta. Along with air transport, visitors can also reach Puri by means of trains, buses, cars and taxis. Puri serves as the last major rail head of South Eastern Railway and that’s why it is well-connected with other cities of India. Bhubaneswar, the state capital city, is located about 70 km from Puri.
Puri Rath Yatra 2018: 14th July (Commencement of the Rath Yatra) – 23rd July (Return of the Car Festival)
No information about Indian pilgrimage tour is complete without introducing Char Dham Yatra. Char Dham that literally means four holy abodes of Hindu sect, are more than just shrines. They are the means to relive your inner self and get close to the untouched natural beauty. Snow-clad mountains, lush green valleys, challenging paths and freezing temperature accompany you in this sacred expedition that starts from Yamunotri and ends at Badrinath. Basically, Char Dham Yatra mainly refers to the spiritual journey to Badrinath, Puri, Rameshwaram and Dwarka dhams, covering all north, east, south and west regions of India. But with the passage of time, the four holy shrines of Uttarakhand (Yamunotri, Gangotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath) have been termed as Char Dham or as Char Dham of Uttarakhand. So, whether you want to go on the big one or wants to focus on the shrines of Uttarakhand only, Char Dham Yatra always remains one of the top pilgrimages in India.
How to Reach – It is quite easy to reach Haridwar as it is a major railhead that provides connectivity to various locations of Uttarakhand. Haridwar is also served by a good network of bus service and is located around 200 km from Delhi.
Yatra Route: Delhi – Haridwar – Barkot – Yamunotri – Barkot – Naitala – Gangotri – Naitala – Sitapur – Kedarnath – Sitapur – Badrinath – Rudraprayag – Rishikesh – Haridwar – Delhi
Char Dham Yatra 2018: The yatra will start in May but all the temples will open on different dates. Opening dates of Chardham Yatra 2018 has been not disclosed yet.
The famous 12 Jyotirlinga Yatra is very significant for the devotees of Lord Shiva. It is one of the longest spiritual journeys that cover several locations throughout the country. All the temples included in the yatra are considered as the manifestation of the deity in various forms. It is believed that this sacred yatra is a way to achieve salvation and get rid of all of your sins.
How to Reach – Visitors can choose among Delhi, Mumbai and Madurai as their starting point of this holy yatra. All these three cities are well served by every means of transportation.
Temples included in the yatra: Kedarnath, Vishwanath Temple, Baidyanath Temple, Omkareshwar Temple, Mahakaleshwar Temple, Somnath Temple, Nageshwar Temple, Triambakeshwar Temple, Grishneshwar Temple, Bhimashankar Temple, Mallikarjuna Temple and Ramanathaswamy Temple.
Yatra Route: Delhi – Haridwar – Rudraprayag – Kedarnath – Varanasi – Deoghar – Indore – Ujjain – Indore – Dwarka – Nashik – Aurangabad – Pune – Hyderabad – Srisailam – Hyderabad – Madurai – Rameshwaram – Madurai – Delhi
12 Jyotirlinga Yatra 2018: Pilgrims can perform this yatra in any time of the year but it is good to schedule your plan in summers as Kedarnath Temple opens only for a limited period (from Akshaya Tritriya that falls in the end of April to Kartik Purnima that usually occurs in November).
Pandharpur Palki Yatra is a well-known pilgrimage expedition to Vithoba Temple, situated in Pandharpur city of Solapur district in Maharashtra. The yatra is dedicated to Lord Vitthala, a manifestation of Lord Vishnu. Pandharpur Palki Yatra is popularly known as Waari Yatra and the pilgrims who attend this holy procession are known as “warkaris”. This traditional holy journey is also called “PANDHARPUR ASHADI EKADASI WARI YATRA” as this pilgrimage ends on Ekadasi of Ashada month as per Marathi’s traditional calendar. The expedition originally starts from Sant Tukaram Temple, located in Dehu Village of Pune District. This main procession of Tukaram Maharaj Palki is further joined by Sant Dnyaneshwar Palki that originates from Alandi near Pune next day. Later on, many more processions from other nearby villages and towns join the main yatra en route. It is a 21-day event held annually during the period of June-July and has been celebrated for more than 700 years.
How to Reach – The town of Dehu is located about 30 km away from Pune Railway Station as well as from Pune Airport. So, it is quite easy for pilgrims to join this holy yatra from any corner of the country.
Yatra Route: Dehu and Alandi – Pune – Saswad – Lonand – Taradgaon – Barad – Natepute – Malsiras – Velapur – Shegaon – Vakhari – Pandarpur
Pandharpur Palki Yatra 2018: 23rd July, 2018
Considered as the largest congregation of Muslims in the world, Hajj is the prominent pilgrimage to Mecca. It is reputed as one among the five pillars of Islam and is performed during “Dhul-Hijjah (the 12th Islamic month). Hajj Yatra is more than just a voyage to a holy land; it is a duty that every Muslim must have to perform once in his/her life span. Despite its annual occurrence, the dates of Hajj changes every year as the period of the pilgrimage is decided on the basis of Islamic calendar. Person who performs this holy Islamic Yatra is known as “HAJJI” but the expedition is quite tough and full of strict rules and customary etiquettes. Every year, there is a sharp increase in the number of pilgrims heading to Mecca for Hajj journey.
How to Reach – Pilgrims generally go for Hajj Yatra in groups as a symbol of unity and brotherhood. Now-a-days majority of flight operators throughout the world provides direct air connectivity with the holy land of Mecca. Two airports, one regional (Ta’if Airport) and one international (King Abdulaziz International Airport) serves Mecca region of Saudi Arabia.
Hajj Yatra 2018: August 19 – August 24
Note* There are specified rituals and schedules that are must for every Hajj pilgrim to follow. Males are required to wear “IHRAM” and females are required to maintain their normal modest dress code (hijab) as per Islamic guidelines. There are certain restrictions related to wearing Ihram also. So it is best to get detailed information about all customary etiquettes before performing Hajj.
When it comes to popular pilgrimage tours in India, Srikhand Mahadev Yatra is another tough religious journey that pops out from the rich treasure of Indian culture. As the name suggests, the yatra is dedicated to Lord Shiva and completes in the high peaks of Himalaya, like the other two, Amarnath Yatra and Kailash Mansarovar Yatra. Srikhand Mahadev basically is a natural rock-made shivlingam about 70 feet high and is placed at an elevation of around 5791 meters. The Yatra to this high-altitude abode of God Shiva opens during the period of July – August every year and takes 15-20 days for completion. Offering a perfect blend of divinity and unparallel natural beauty, Srikhand Mahadev Yatra is not meant for weak and old persons, children and pregnant ladies. It is important to carry heavy woolen clothes, blankets, rain coats and eatable items as you will not get anything en route.
How to Reach – Srikhand Mahadev lingam is located in Kullu district of Himachal Pradesh that’s why pilgrims have to travel up to the state capital Shimla, which forms the base of this holy yatra. The foot part of the yatra starts from Jaon village.
Yatra Route: Shimla – Rampur – Nirmand – Bagi Pul – Jaon Village – Bheem Talai – Parvati Bhag – Shrikhand Mahadev – Thachdu
Srikhand Mahadev Yatra 2018: 26th June – 10th July
Representing the importance of cosmic powers in Hindu mythology, Navagraha Yatra is a holy pilgrimage expedition dedicated to nine planets of Hindu astrology. The nine planets that are worshipped during this holy yatra are Jupiter, Moon, Rahu, Sun, Venus, Mars, Mercury, Ketu and Saturn. The expedition starts from Thingalur, the hometown of well-known Kailasanthar Temple (Moon Temple) and ends at Keelperumpallam (Ketu Temple). It is important to give a visit to all the Navagraha temples but in case if you are running short of time then a visit to Jupiter Temple at Alangudi, Moon Temple at Thingalur and Rahu Temple at Thirunageswaram are must for every pilgrim. This holy yatra is very popular among those who have strong beliefs in astrology.
How to Reach – The nearest major city is Chennai, located about 420 km from Thingalur.
Yatra Route: Chennai – Kumbakonam – Thingalur (Moon Temple) – Alangudi (Jupiter Temple) – Suriyanar Temple (Sun Temple) – Kanjanoor (Venus Temple) – Tirunageswaram (Rahu Temple) – Vaitheeswaran Koil (Mars Temple) – Thirunallar (Saturn Temple) – Thiruvenkadu (Mercury Temple) – Keelperumpallam (Ketu Temple)
Navagraha Yatra 2018: There is no fixed date for this sacred journey. Pilgrims can perform it in any period of the year, as per the planetary movements in their zodiac signs.
When it comes to Indian pilgrimage travel, Nav Durga Devi Yatra has very important place in Hindu mythology. According to legends, Goddess Shakti is worshipped in several forms throughout the country but her representation in these nine forms has a special significance among her followers and Hindus. Like Jyotirlinga yatra, Nav Durga Devi Yatra too covers various different places but in North India only. Starting from Jammu and Kashmir, this sacred yatra ends at Uttar Pradesh. All the nine temples included in this spiritual expedition are among the major Shakti Peethas dotted throughout India.
How to Reach – There are various trains that runs between Delhi and Jammu Railway Station like Jammu Rajdhani, Shalimar Express, Malwa Express and Dee Jat Duronto.
Temples included in the yatra: Vaishno Devi Temple, Chamunda Devi Temple, Brijeshwari Devi Temple (Kangra Devi), Jwalamukhi Temple, Chintpurni Mata Temple, Naina Devi Temple, Kali Bar Temple (Kalika Devi Temple), Mansa Devi Temple and Shakumbhari Devi Temple.
Yatra Route: Delhi – Jammu Tawi – Katra – Jammu Tawi – Pathankot – Palampur – Kangra – Jwalamukhi – Karoa-Bharwain Road (Una District) – Naina Devi – Shimla – Panchkula – Sahranpur – Jasmour village – Sahranpur – Delhi
Nav Durga Devi Yatra 2018: Round the year