Jammu and Kashmir is home to people belonging to several religions and faiths, and as a result, there are numerous pilgrimage sites which attract pilgrimage tourists in large numbers. Many of the popular pilgrimage tourism sites in Jammu and Kashmir are not just spiritual, but also possess a historical significance, since they date back to ancient times. Another reason why you should visit the pilgrimage sites during your holiday in Jammu and Kashmir is the beauty which envelopes them, and enhances the entire spiritual experience. Jammu and Kashmir is dotted with temples, mosques and gurudwaras, and visiting them can be an enriching experience.
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One of the most famous Hindu pilgrimage sites in Jammu is the holy shrine of Mata Vaishno Devi, nestled in the Trikuta Hills in Katra. This is where the Mata Devi is believed to have merged with the supernatural form of her creators, and pilgrims come here to seek her divine blessings. It can be reached via a 13 kilometers trek from Katra town, while a helicopter service is also available from Katra to Sanjhichatt. Pilgrims can also take and enjoy a ropeway ride from Vaishno Devi Bhawan to Bhairon Mandir, which reduces the travelling time from 3 hours to 5 minutes. The ropeway is particularly useful for those that don’t want to take the 3 hours hike. Each devotee will have to pay Rs. 100 per head for the ropeway ride.
Another popular Hindu pilgrimage site in J & K is the Amarnath Cave. A large number of devotees take the Amarnath Yatra every year, as it is considered to be one of the 18 Maha Shakti Peethas in India. It is reached via a trek from Baltal and Pahalgam, or a helicopter ride from Baltal.
Shankaracharya Temple, built in 750 AD, is also a must visit pilgrimage site in Jammu and Kashmir, since it is an ancient holy site where Adi Shankaracharya preached enlightenment. It is accessible via a flight of stairs and offers lovely views of the surroundings.
Raghunath Temple is a Hindu pilgrimage site which you should visit in Jammu Kashmir. It is a collection of seven temples, each adorned with their own shikaras, or spires, and housing several image of Hindus gods and goddesses, although the presiding deity is Lord Rama. It is visited in large numbers by spiritual tourists both for its historical significance and spiritual value.
A famous Muslim pilgrimage sites in Jammu and Kashmir is Jami Masjid, built in 1400 AD and consisting of 300 pillars. It is famous for its Indo-Saracenic style of architecture and houses a gorgeous courtyard. Muslims believe that they are forgiven of all sins by offering prayers here.
Another must visit Muslim pilgrimage site in Kashmir is the Hazratbal Shrine, located on the western banks of the lovely Dal Lake. Built of immaculate white marble, it is a magnificent structure which is highly respected by the Muslims as it preserves the sacred hair from the beard of Prophet Muhammad.
Charar-e-Sharif, located in Budgam district, is a Muslim pilgrimage site which you should visit during your trip to Jammu and Kashmir dedicated to the renowned Sufi saint Sheikh-ur-din Noorani, who, besides other things, produced several philosophy works in prose, poetry and verses after getting inspired from various historical events. It is famous for the Urs celebrations which occur here every year.
Dastagir Sahib is a holy shrine about 200 years old, located in the Khanyar locality in Srinagar in memory of Sheikh Sayas Abdul Qadir Jelani. On the occasion of Urs of the Gours E Azam, a large number of people from all over Kashmir assemble there to pray.
There are other Muslim religious sites in Jammu and Kashmir which you should visit like Baba Reshi, a very beautiful and elegant Sufi shrine located in Baramullah district. Located at an elevation of around 7,000 feet, it houses the shrine of Baba Reshi, and pilgrims visit it in large numbers to seek his divine blessings and look for positivity. Langars, or free meals, are also served in this shrine.
While taking a spiritual tour of the well known Muslim pilgrimage sites in Jammu and Kashmir, you should not visit the famous Khanqqah-e-Moulah, located in Srinagar on the banks of Jhelum River. Built in 1395, it is believed to be one of the oldest shrines in Jammu and Kashmir and is dedicated to the famous preacher, Mir Syed Ali Hamdani. This famous shrine is visited by a large number of devotees on the 6th of Zilhaj, which is the last month of the Muslim calendar, on the death anniversary of Mir Syed Ali Hamadni.
Makhdoom Sahib, located at the foothills of Hari Parbat in Srinagar, sits comfortably below a Mughal Fort. The shrine is named after Hazrat Sultan, who was a renowned Sufi Muslim saint. It is held in such high regard by the devotees because it is believed that devotees who visit the shrine always have their prayers fulfilled and never return empty handed.
Gurudwara Mattan, which is also called Gurudwara Guru Nanak Dev, is another important Sikh pilgrimage site in Jammu and Kashmir, located around 60 kilometers from Srinagar. This is where Guru Nanak is believed to have held a discussion with Pandit Brahm Das, who adopted Sikhism after becoming convinced by the teachings of the Guru.
Chatti Padshahi Gurudwara, located in Hari Parbat in Srinagar, is another major Sikh pilgrimage destination in J & K. The gurudwara stands at the very spot where Guru Hargobind preached the virtues of Sikhism to his ardent devotee, Mai Bhagbhari, when he visited Kashmir. A large number of tourists visit the Gurudwara during Gurmat Samagam, an event where Sikhs gather to discuss, learn and take part in the teachings from the Guru Granth Sahib.
Gurudwara Guru Nanak Dev Ji, located in Jammu in close proximity to the historical Mubarak Mandi complex, is another popular Sikhism holy place in Jammu and Kashmir. It houses an enormous statue of Guru Nanak made of pure white marble about three feet high, which was placed by the Rajput Raja Maharaja Partap Singh. It is also famous for its brilliant architecture, and draws a large number of Hindus too, who come here to seek divine blessings of the Almighty God.