When it comes to best spiritual tourist destinations in India we can count many because India, a land of mystics and mysticism, has over the centuries earned the reputation of abounding in spiritual experiences. Be it the natives embarking on pilgrimages or people from across the globe arriving on the soil of this ancient land with a hope of connecting with the transcendent, India sees a lot of criss-crossing across its length and breadth in pursuit of a spiritual awakening.
Here are some of the best tourist destinations in India for those looking for that moment of divine intervention:
It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to call Varanasi the spiritual capital of India, and that’s why it tops our list of best tourist destinations in India for a spiritual experience. From ancient temples like the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, site of one of the 12 jyotirlingas considered a symbol of the infinite radiance of Lord Shiva, and Tulsi Manas Temple, where the Ramcharitmanas was written, to the famous ghats, this city is the seat of spirituality is ways more than one. Witnessing the spectacular Ganga aarti from a boat moored near the Dashashwamedh Ghat is a must-have experience here. The sounds of hymns, bells and Cymbals with millions of tinkering lights on gigantic brass lamps are sure to awash you with a strange sense of calm, transporting you to a realm of nothingness. Even if momentary, it’s an experience that’ll define spiritual bliss for you.
Not so far away from Varanasi is the holy town of Sarnath, the first place Lord Buddha visited after his enlightenment under the Bodhi tree and delivered his first-ever sermon to five disciples, thereby laying the foundation of Buddhism. It is said that the words ‘Buddham Sharanam Gacchami’ can be still heard echoing in the air, if you listen closely, at the Deer Park here. If you are lucky to experience it, this hair-raising encounter will cleanse your very being of all negativities and stresses.
What could be a better way of seeking that moment of spiritual awakening than a retreat to the tranquil and pristine Himalayas. Nestled in the higher reaches of the Himalayan range, Gangotri is the place of origin of the Ganges, a river considered holy and revered as a mother goddess by Hindus. The serene environs of the place, dotted with a multitude of temples and encampment of cottages, and the sight of the mighty Ganges emerging as a newborn river before it swells up and gushes over rocky cliffs, is a spell-binding spectacle that can be therapeutic and soul stirring, all at once.
Golden Temple, Amritsar
This holy shrine is not just the most sacred place for the Sikhs but also the perfect destination to connect with something ‘bigger than our being’. An aura of intense peace and spirituality prevails upon the place. One of its most stunning features is the Amrit Sarovar situated in the centres of the Golden Temple premises, with the sanctum sanctorum at the end of a causeway going over the holy tank. Its water is said to possess healing powers. The most unmissable experience to delve into the realms of spirituality is meditating at the sanctum sanctorum during the Amrit Vela (meaning the ambrosial period between 3 and 6 am), with the Gurbani playing in the backdrop. This way you can avoid the hoards of pilgrims that descend upon this sacred place in thousands every day, and find your moment of peace and quiet to connect with supreme guiding light.
Ajmer Sharif Dargah
This Sufi shrine dedicated to Islamic Imam and philosopher Moinuddin Chisti is a revered site that draws pilgrims from all faiths and walks of life. The dargah is built around the grave of the celebrated ascetic credited with promulgating the Chishtiyya order of Sunni mysticism. The shrine sees the highest influx of pilgrim on the 6th and 7th day of Rajab, the seventh Islamic month, as the day mark the death anniversary of the saint. The white marble structures and unmistakable mystic vibe of the place instantly washes you over with a sense of calm. Plan a visit during the non-peak days, so that you can spend some moments of unadulterated peace at this holy site, reflecting upon the finer nuances and the larger meaning of life.
This hill station, which is nearly four-hour drive from Chennai, is a destination for varied spiritual experiences. From Hindu pilgrims taking a walk around the holy Mount Arunachala to spiritual seekers thronging the Sri Ramana Ashram and devotees visiting the Arunachaleswar Temple where Lord Shiva is invoked as an element of fire, the place has something to offer to spiritual travellers of every kind. Mount Arunachala has also earned itself the reputation of being the ‘most silent place on earth’, owing to its numinous energy that can calm even the most tormented minds. It is the perfect place to get lost in a meditative state only to discover who you really are.
India is a beautiful confluence of different religions and cultures. The best tourist destinations in India for spiritual seekers are the perfect reflection of this diverse cauldron.