Last Updated: January 22, 2020 Abhishek Gurung
Uttar Pradesh offers such outstanding attractions to see, I bet you’d want to travel to this destination time and again. Filled with architectural marvels and history, this state also boasts pilgrimage sites for those who seek a spiritual holiday in India. A visit here can pull you into a whirlpool of culture, heritage and a number of mythological legends. From Mathura-Vrindavan that shoulder the goodness of Lord Krishna to the city of Ayodhya, the famed Ram Janm Bhoomi to even Vindhyachal where the Goddess Durga chose to reside, phew! this place certainly has a lot of stories to tell. However, your pilgrimage tour in Uttar Pradesh is not confined to just Hindu temples, Monasteries, Churches or even Mosques, all can be found in abundance in the state to make it amongst the finest pilgrimage destinations in India. It is here you also get to witness religious gatherings in the famed Kumbh Mela and Magh Mela in Allahabad along with several other fairs. Continue reading this blog as we will slowly open your heart to consider Uttar Pradesh for a religious tour in North India.
Allahabad: Experience the kumbh in one of the holiest destinations of India
A pleasant sight that pilgrims really enjoy in Allahabad is perhaps the confluence of three holy rivers of the Ganges, Yamuna and Saraswati known as Triveni, which is the reason why Allahabad is one of the most important pilgrim spots in India for the Hindus. The city of Allahabad is the second oldest city in India after Varanasi and has also been mentioned in the ancient books of knowledge or the Vedas. Apart from that, the city of Allahabad is widely visited for its holistic experience and an heart-warming cultural affair. And below I have listed the prime attractions that Allahabad is widely visited for:
One of the eventful annual religious festival for the Hindus, Magh Mela is an auspicious event because according to Hindu mythology, it believes to mark the beginning of the Universe. Thus, it is held every year for the celebration in one of the Hindu religious sites, Prayag near Allahabad. This event is located on the banks of Triveni Sangam which is the confluence of three rivers, Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati. As per the Hindu calendar, Magh Mela is set to be held from the start of Makkar Sankranti during mid-January to mid-February, however, it is not confined to just these months. In fact, the important bathing dates start from over a period of 45 days. By all means, Magh Mela is a well-known place to visit and it serves as a smaller version of Kumbh Mela making it an ideal place to start exploring the religious festivity.
Bathing Dates of Magh Mela of Allahabad for the year 2018
Prayag Kumbh Mela
The largest religious gathering celebrated in four Indian destinations (by turns) like Nasik, Ujjain, Haridwar and Allahabad (Prayag), Kumbh Mela is a must visit and an auspicious fair where the devotees from across the globe come to attain their sins. Celebrated after every three years, the next commingling of pilgrims can be witnessed in 2019 at Allahabad’s ancient pilgrimage centres, Prayag. Although it can be understood as a huge gathering of humanity where you can witness miracles and spirituality, this festivity is the most intense yet best festivals to experience. Here, you can witness miracles performed by the Sadhus who stood on one leg for years, some buried upside down throughout the festival of Kumbh and you can even sight some Sadhus pull trucks with their genitals. On a lighter note, a visit here can help make friends from different countries, take a holy dip in the Ganges and simply enjoy every moment.
Kumbh Mela Dates for the year 2019 at Allahabad
||Makar Sankranti (1st Shahi Snan)
||Mauni Amavasya (Main Royal Bath 2nd Shahi Snan)
||Basant Panchami (3rd Shahi Snan)
Varanasi: Feel the spiritual vibe in the ghats of India’s oldest inhabited land
Amongst other top travel destinations, Varanasi is widely visited by travellers from across the globe. The city of Varanasi is one of the holiest inhabited places in India and here the sole attraction is the ghats lining the sacred waters of Ganges. Particularly, Varanasi is regarded to be an auspicious place to visit when you feel you’re near your last breath since it is believed to offer ‘moksha,’ liberation of the soul, the cycle of reincarnation. Although this city has various tourist sites to accompany the visitors, let me just add a major fact that Varanasi is not a typical destination in India, most visitors call it magical while some consider Varanasi to be too intense. Well, whatever you consider it to be, here are the major holy sites stomped by devotees from across the globe.
Originating from the two fresh mountain rivers of Bhagirathi and Alaknanda that confluences in a small town of Uttarakhand in Devprayag, the mainstream of the holy river Ganga flows towards Vrindavan and further down to West Bengal. So to say, Vrindavan is a spiritual destination where one may find it to be hair-raising while some may take it to be too intense because this place is not for the faint-hearted. Here, somewhere along the Ganga ghats, events for cremating their loved ones take place, while in a distance, you can find a melange of devotees in an act of washing away their sins believing in the power of the river. But whether you take a dip in the Ganges or not, you have to experience a boat ride in Varanasi during the sunset, you can even get a spectacular view of the Ganga Aarti from across the river/boat deck. The entire river illuminates with floating candles and flowers offering such a spell-binding sight to experience, it is moments like this that make an unforgettable trip.
Kashi Vishwanath Temple
The 11th century Kashi Vishwanath Temple is one of the oldest temples in the holy city of Varanasi which is also known as Kashi. It is located on the banks of the river Ganges and plays an important role for the Hindus as it is believed whosoever bathes in the river gets all sins washed away and thus gain solace. The temple towers of Vishwanath are all gold plated along with a golden chhatra on top and it is where the 12th Jyotirlinga of Lord Shiva is located which is considered to be the most sacred shrine from all the other temples in Varanasi. As per the mythological legends, Lord Shiva appeared as an endless pillar during the battle for supremacy between Lord Vishnu and Lord Brahma, who then challenged each other to find the end of the pillar. Lord Brahma lied to have found the end, which made Lord Shiva angry and cursed Brahma not be worshipped by anybody. Today, this temple glorifies its beauty and although the pillar vanished, a small part can still be found which is located at Kashi (Varanasi) in the form of the Vishwanath Jyotirlinga.
Temple Timings: 03:00 to 23:00
One of the Hindu pilgrimage sites in Uttar Pradesh, Vindhyachal is located in Mirzapur district near the banks of the river Ganges. And what makes this town so important as a religious place is because it is considered to be a place that Goddess Durga choose to reside after her re-birth. This place boasts of a few attractions perfect to visit during family holidays and around its vicinity, you can visit important temple attraction that holds specific meaning. For instance, Kali Khoh Cave Temple dedicated to Goddess Kali, Ashtabhuja temple, dedicated to Goddess Saraswati and Sita Kund, a sacred pond that is connected to the epic Ramayana.
Vindhyavasini Devi Temple
This temple is a must see place dedicated to Goddess Vindhyavasini Devi, the incarnation of Goddess Durga and her ‘aasan’ is considered to be one of the most adored Shaktipeeths among the devotees. Vindhyavasini Devi is also popularly known as Kajala Devi, the incarnation is regarded as love and compassion. This temple is located in the midst of a busy market of Vindhyachal, a town in Mirzapur district and the attraction that draws the pilgrims is the beautiful black stone structure of Goddess Durga sitting on a lion. Inside the temple complex, you can also witness other shrines that are dedicated to Twelve Bhuja Devi, Dhamdhwaja Devi and Mahakali, there is also a Saptashati Madip, a canopy displaying a sacred text of prayers from Durga Saptashati. Ideally, this religious trip to Vindhyachal is mostly done during festivity season, and you can find a huge crowd of devotees during Navratras in Chaitra which is held during April and Ashwin held during October.
Temple Timings: 05:00 to 22:00
Ayodhya: Explore the holy land where the epic tale of Ramayana existed
One of the best spiritual retreat to visit in India Ayodhya is considered to be one of the seven important pilgrimage places for the Hindus of different Indian religions. And it is believed to be the birthplace of Lord Rama, consequently, making the epic tale of Ramayana set here. In this spiritual destination, you can witness incense emitting a strong fragrance from temple doors and experience holy mass gatherings at the ghats lined on the bank of Sarayu River. In Ayodhya, the architectural splendour is at its best where you get to see not just Hindu Temples but also Mosques that dwells amid the city. And we have listed some of the popular religious significant places in Ayodhya below.
An ancient citadel that is located in the western part of Ayodhya, Ramkot Fort stands on an elevated platform overlooking the city. This place marks the site where the actual fort of Lord Rama existed and the same fort from where he was banished from the kingdom. Today, millions of devotees gather to this very site to witness or experience certain spiritual aura and the auspicious landmark itself. It also evokes sentiments among Lord Ram’s followers and legends have it that, Lord Hanuman used to guard this fort from a cave nearby. However, as a tourist, the best time to witness the beauty of Ayodhya is to visit during Ram Navami celebration when the entire place is lighted in colourful lights.
From the many Hindu Temples in Ayodhya, Hanuman Garhi is the most visited place that not only holds its recognition as a pilgrimage landmark but also a popular tourist attraction. And the only way to approach this famous monkey temple is by climbing more than 70 steps. In fact, some devotees and the locals even claim that your wishes may come true as you chant while ascending towards the shrine, no wonder, Hanuman Garhi is thronged by pilgrims from across India. This pilgrimage centre is also believed to be a place where the Lord Hanuman resided to safeguard the place. But apart from being a Hindu pilgrimage destination, Hanuman Garhi has an impressive structure and an architectural wonder, richly decorated with colourful temple walls and impressive artwork. The front gate is coloured in white and has a simple traditional design, it also boasts of the circular citadel on each corner.
During a religious holiday in Ayodhya, you cannot miss the sight of the river Saryu. It is also known as Sarju and is the largest tributary of the river Sharda that forms in the two districts of Uttarakhand, Pithoragarh and Almora. Its long glistening trail flows down to Ayodhya where the religious offerings to the holy spirits are held on the banks of Saryu River. In fact, this river has an ancient significance and can be found in the Vedas and the Ramayana. And during the celebration of Ram Navami, you may witness thousands of devotees from various Hindu background that come to take a dip in the Sarayu River. This spiritual sight can be seen in the Ram Ki Paidi, a bathing ghat on the riverfront that also houses a series of temples. Such a heart-melting sight of Ram Ki Paidi alongside the river of Saryu, you’d probably gaze in admiration at the classic Indian traditional architecture of the temples.
Mathura-Vrindavan: Delve into the many temples of Krishna in this duo cities
Probably, one of the best places to visit for a complete Krishna Temple tours, Mathura and Vrindavan. The temples in these places play an important part in Uttar Pradesh Tourism, in fact, the crowd pulling attractions here are the beautiful Krishna Temples and the holy Yamuna Ghats. These famous duo destinations in India, not only it offers a religious experience to the pilgrims but also to the tourists. Here, you can delve into a whirlpool of spiritual involvement by visiting the birthplace of Lord Krishna and exploring the ‘van’ garden where the locals claim, Radha-Krishna and his Gopis dance all night. Interesting! Why not checkout more spiritual sites that these cities have to offer.
During your pilgrimage tours to Mathura and Vrindavan, you will be surrounded by a number of Krishna Temples that offer a religious guidance into the history and architecture of the shrines. Offering a visual treat to the eyes and spiritual experience to the soul, this temple tour will take you to the place where Krishna was born and where he along with his gopis dance all night. There are many wondrous shrines owning religious significance but some of the best are mentioned below.
Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi Temple, Mathura
Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi is one of the most auspicious temples in Mathura that offers a treat to the Krishna devotees to witness the room where Lord Krishna was born. This particular temple attraction is always jampacked by human-swarming tourists eager to take a sneak peek into the room. Shri Krishna Janmabhoomi Temple is considered to be a very important pilgrimage for Hindus and the holiest place in Mathura.
Keshi Ghat, Vrindavan
One of the most prominent ghats in Vrindavan, Keshi Ghat always radiants with aartis and flower offering to the holy river of Yamuna. But what beholds the visitors is the magnificent building at the backdrop, the Madanmohan Temple. This famous temple is considered to be one of the most spiritual attractions in Vrindavan because it was here that Lord Krishna took a bath after killing the demon Keshi. Thus, it is considered as an important pilgrim spot.
There are many other historically rich and spiritually significant places in Mathura-Vrindavan, you can also refer to this blog for more information.
Sardhana: Admire the beauty of the grand Roman Catholic Church
One of the famous Christian pilgrimage destinations of Meerut, Sardhana is a religious place that often invites tourists into their age-old architectural marvels. It is here that you can explore a few pilgrimage attractions like temples, mosques but Sardhana is rather famous for having one of the oldest churches built during the 18 century.
Basilica – Shrine Of Our Lady Of Graces
This is a sole church of Sardhana completed by the widow of a mercenary soldier Walter Reinhardt Sombre, Begum Samru. This famous Christian Church built in Indian and Italian architecture offers a blissful environment to the visitors. The Sardhana Church is inspired from the St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome but despite being a smaller version, its grandiosity is a treat to the eye. Here, the beauty lies in the the sacred image of Lady of Graces that can be seen from across the large hall. The open space and the octagon set in the dome of this imposing structure that illuminates the sun stream offers a beautiful sight of the surroundings. Endowed in a semi precious stone work, the main altar of Basilica is beautifully decorated. You can also get a sight of the tomb of the Begum located on the left wing of the Church.
Buddhist Circuit: Wander amid the holy sites of stupas and monasteries
For a spiritual getaway in North India, visit the state of Uttar Pradesh that not only offers a bunch of Hindu religious sites but also a number of best Buddhist shrines. Bodh Gaya in Bihar is the place where Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment under a Bodhi Tree, but his spiritual teachings spread throughout India and highly affected the state of Uttar Pradesh since it was his birthplace, Lumbini, now in Nepal. Thus, while on a pilgrimage vacation here, during Buddha Circuit Tour, you can explore a series of Buddhist attractions like stupas, monasteries and in order to find out more keep reading the list below.
Kapilvastu is considered to be a very important Buddhist pilgrimage circuit because it was the Kingdom of Shakya, one of the earliest republics. And the place where Gautama Buddha, the Prince Siddhartha spend his twenty-nine years. A visit here can help you explore the historical ruins of the citadel where the Lord lived comfortable days until he finally witnessed sorrow, grief, sickness and finally death making him leave all his worthy belongings and seeking a path to salvation.
Visited by Gautam Buddha after his enlightenment, Kaushambi is located 54 km from Allahabad where he delivered sermons on goodwill and peace. Today, this ancient city of Kaushambi is surrounded in ruins under the supervision of Archaeological Survey of India and the best tourist attractions this place offers are the Ashoka Pillar, the Ghasitaram Monastery and the Old Fort. Some of the archaeological excavations like sculptures, old coins and terracotta sculptures can be found in the Allahabad Museum in Allahabad city of Uttar Pradesh. This is perhaps one of the perfect places to visit on a family vacation where the kids can also get an education tour.
The most significant thing about this place is that Buddha attained Mahaparinirvana, meaning death in Kushinagar, this led the entire village to build memorable holy sites containing stupas and holy relics. Often pilgrims and travellers visit Kushinagar to witness the reclining golden statue of Buddha located inside a beautiful temple of Mahaparinirvana. This statute was discovered in 1876 and it indicates the great demise of Lord Buddha, it offers such a spectacular sights for the devotees.
Sarnath is the place that Gautam Buddha delivered his first sermon to his five disciples after gaining enlightenment and during your religious tourism, a visit here is definite. As per the legends, Lord Buddha preached various teachings about the Four Noble Truths, middle path to avoid extremes, the Eightfold path etc. In order to truly experience a cultural affair in Sarnath, visit during the festive season of Vaishakha, Buddha’s birthday.
Once the capital of Kosala Mahajanapada, Sravasti is one of the revered pilgrimage destinations in Uttar Pradesh. It is said that Lord Buddha spent his 24 years in Sravasti and it has a couple of tourist attractions like ancient stupas, old monasteries and several Buddhist Temples.
Sankisa is one of the important places to visit during your Buddhist Pilgrimage Tour because this place revolves around many mythical legends. One of them is that Lord Buddha along with Devraj Indra and Brahma returned to Sankisa after delivering a sermon to his mother considering this place to be a human abode. Today, this place offers a religious tour to the devotees with a melange of sacred sites and three of the must-visit Buddhist temples are, The Buddha Temple, it stands at the spot that received Buddha after his mother’s sermon; The Temple of Mayadevi dedicated to Gautam Buddha’s mother and The Ruins of Ashokan Elephant Pillar.
Sufi Shrines: Listen to the soulful devotional qawwali and seek blessings in some of the Dargahs
India has Sufi Shrines in various destinations and some of the popular Dargah’s are in Uttar Pradesh. This state offers some pristine shrines like Dargah-e-Ala Hazrat in Bareilly and Hazrat Syed Salar Masood Ghazi in the district of Bahraich near Lucknow. In fact, the city of Nawabs also has a number of must-visit Dargahs like Dargah-E-Sabri of a renowned Sufi Saint, Hazrat Khwaja Sufi Sabir Mohammed Zakaria Shah Hasni. Thus, wherever your spiritual travel guide will take you, you’re bound to have a spiritual time. And a day in Dewa Sharif may even teleport you to a land of devotion and bliss.
Dewa Sharif is one of the well-known pilgrimage destinations located 25 km from the city of Nawabs, Lucknow and it is famous for the shrine of a Sufi Saint, Haji Waris Ali Shah. Dewa Sharif is a religious place and it is widely visited by a lot of devotees and tourists for its splendid monumental architecture which is built on a complete white structure with a green dome on top offering a picturesque look. This tomb of Syed Haji Waris Ali Shah is best visited during the months of October and November for a 10 day Dewa Mela commemorated to the Sufi Saint. It attracts thousands of devotees annually for the musical event that includes kavi sammelan, mushaira and music performances. A good range of handicrafts and display of fireworks are also a must see while here.
Jainism: Learn and believe in the existence of non-violence
Jainism is one of the oldest Indian religions that teaches about the practice of non-violence, non-absolutism and non-attachment. Traditionally known as Jain Dharma, this religion believes in living a complete vegetarian lifestyle and avoids harming any living beings and animals. One of the famous Jain Shrine in Uttar Pradesh is found in Kaushambi and a certain shrine that should not be missed is mentioned below.
Digambar Jain Temple
The most visited jain temples in U.P. and widely visited in the country, Digambar Jain Temple is revered to the 6th Tirthankar Lord Padma Prabha. This magnificent temple in Kaushambi district is built in a beautiful intricate design and the core attraction of this temple is the 30-centimetre tall statue of the Lord Padmaprabha. Seated in a padmasana form, which means in a remain calm and composed pose, this idol is said to have been carved out of a single rock. Another interesting sight a large number of devotees of Jain community go to see in the footprints of the 6th Teerthankar.
There is no doubt Uttar Pradesh to be a prime destination for family holidays and even backpacking, considering here exists fabulous marbles, think the Taj. Not only you get to explore the holy river Ganges but also its religious attractions and legends of Gods and Goddess. So what are you waiting for, now is the perfect time for a spiritual sojourn and if you are looking for pilgrimage packages call us at +91-9212777223 or send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to know our best travel deals.
Published: 14 Dec, 2017
Abhishek Gurung is a writer whose passion for food and travel is an unending affair. He likes going on treks and camping in the woods, loves exploring forts and architecture, he is a cycle enthusiast who likes to contribute something to the environment, travel photography and videography is another interest as he sees life in a cinematic point of view. He likes the idea of living in offbeat destination where the mode of communication is to interact with each other. Coming from Nagaland, he has visited some beautiful valleys and remote villages and appreciates nature as it is and as it should be.