Sacred Indian spaces

Discussion in 'Religion & Culture' started by Bhadra, Feb 17, 2012.

  1. Bhadra

    Bhadra Defence Professionals Defence Professionals Senior Member

    Jul 11, 2011
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    Sacred Indian spaces

    Here are 182 places to be peaceful with yourself.


    Andhra Pradesh
    1. The richest temple in the country, Tirupati has recorded daily footfall of more than five lakh at the annual festival of Brahmotsavam, held in September.

    2. Vayu, the god of wind, is the presiding deity at the Srikalahasti Temple, about 36 km from Tirupati, a glorious 12th-century structure.

    3. On the day of his birth, the Buddha is remembered through the annual Lumbini Festival, held in both Hyderabad and the religious site of Nagarjunasagar.

    4. The five ancient Shaivite shrines-the Pancharama temples-are believed to be remnants of the shivalingam held by a demon. Legend says the shivalingam splintered into five pieces to form the shrines in Guntur and Rajahmundry districts.

    5. The legend of Bhakt Prahlada comes alive as you stand in awe of Lord Vishnu's carving in the Narasimha avatar at the 11th-century Simhachalam Temple, near Vishakapatnam.

    6. The Kakatiya style of architecture is preserved in the shape of the Thousand Pillar Temple in Warrangal.

    7. Built with bricks transported from Mecca, the Mecca Masjid at Charminar is a revered monument.

    8. Images of a thriving Buddhist colony come alive at the ruins of Nagarjunakonda, dating to 3rd century AD.

    9. The Buddhist trail further leads to Amravati on the banks of the Krishna. The stupas and rick-cut caves here are stunning. Chandavaram, Bhattiprolu, Ghantasala, Sankaram and Panigiri are the other important sites.

    Arunachal Pradesh
    10. The second largest monastery in Asia, the Tawang Gompa, built on the top of a hill, is a fascinating place with a calming ambience. It also houses a collection of robes and belongings of the sixth Dalai Lama.

    11. The Tawang Library has many thousands of block-printed commentaries and treatises on the subject of Mahayana Buddhism. The paper used is made locally by the Monpas from the bark of the Hong Seng tree.

    12. Malinithan, a place associated with Lord Krishna, has ruins of a temple complex dating to the 10th century.

    13. Parasuram Kund, surrounded by a dense forest of Rudraksha trees, lies within the Kamlang Reserve Forest. Makar Sankranti is the day when thousands of pilgrims come here for a holy dip.

    14. Namsai is famous for several Buddhist viharas that are locally known as 'chong'. You might be forgiven for thinking that they look vaguely Thai. There's also a Peace Pagoda on one of the river islands at Chongkham.

    15. You can feel the strength of devotion at Guwahati's Kamakhya Temple. The age-old edifice comes to life in a whirl of colour and faith at the end of June during the Ambubachi Mela.

    16. Climb 1,000 stone steps to get to the top of the Brahmajuni Hill in Gaya, where Buddha is said to have preached his fire sermon. The view you get from the top of Gaya and its surrounding plains is breathtaking.

    17. The Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya is a brick structure enclosed on three sides by an ancient stone railing. Under the Bodhi tree here Prince Siddhartha became the Buddha by attaining Enlightenment.

    18. Films screened at the Bodhgaya Multimedia Museum, located next to the Mahabodhi Temple, take you back 2,500 years to the age of the Buddha.

    19. The 80-ft high statute of the meditating Buddha is another major attraction of Bodh Gaya. The fact that the Dalai Lama consecrated it adds to the pull.

    20. During the Dalai Lama's Kalachakra teachings in Bodh Gaya, held in December-January, traditional songs and dances of Tibetan are performed at makeshift tents put up for the occasion.

    21. Explore Bodh Gaya's monasteries by rickshaw or on foot. The town houses every possible kind of Buddhist temple monastery--Thai, Tibetan, Korean, Vietnamese and so on.

    22. A course in Tibetan Buddhism is conducted at Bodh Gaya's Tergar Monastery. Tergar - Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche’s International Meditation Community

    23. To the northeast of Bodh Gaya are the Mahakala (or Dungeshwari) Caves, where the Buddha sat for years in extreme self-denial.

    24. Kesariya, 70 km from Patna, marks the site where the Buddha gave away his begging bowl before his death. The massive stupa built during the rule of the Pala kings is being excavated.

    25. Vaishali is the town where Mahavira, the founder of Jainism, was born and also where the Buddha preached his last sermon.

    26. Do the Sufi circuit covering the sites at Biharsharif, Manersharif, Munger, Husanpura and Phulwarisharif. These are full of beautiful imposing mausoleums. Pulwarisharif in particular is noted for its red sandstone Sangi Masjid built by the Humayun.

    27. The elegant Chhoti Dargah, about 30 km from Patna, is a domed structure flanked by four minarets.

    28. Chhat Puja is the only occasion that calls for worship of the setting sun. Held immediately after Diwali, seen best in Patna.

    29. If, however, you miss Chhat celebrations in Patna, there is always the daily Ganga aarti to make up for it. The Floating Restaurant leaves at 4 p.m. on weekdays, and at 5 p.m. on Saturday-Sunday.

    30. A new landmark in Patna is the Buddha Smriti Park, which has a sapling from the original Bodhi tree sapling.

    31. Follow in the footsteps of the Enlightened One with Shantum Seth's Buddha Path tours, between February and March. Buddhapath

    32. No ten-headed Ravana goes up in flames and neither is victory of good over evil hailed at Bastar Dussehra, a 75-day celebration dedicated to the worship of Ma Danteshwari Devi. The festival is dominated by tribal customs and culminates with a colourful rath yatra in Jagdalpur.

    33. Celebrated to welcome the season of Fagun (Feb-March) Fagun Madai is organised at Danteshwari Temple in Dantewada, 80 km from Jagdalpur, where more than 200 deities are invited. The concluding day coincides with Holi, and, curiously, along with gulal, revellers pelt amla on each other.

    34. Dedicated to Bastar's presiding goddess Danteshwari, the temple at Dantewada is one of the 52 Shaktipeeths across India. This is the spot where the daant or tooth of Sati fell.

    35. Legend says that the Shivani Temple in Kanker has one of only two statues in the country that is half Goddess Kali and half Goddess Durga.

    36. Dongargarh in Rajnandgaon district is famous for the Bamleshwari Temple, picturesquely located atop a hill. More adventurously, there's an 'open-air' ropeway--the only one in the state--that connects the temple.

    37. Rajiv Lochan Temple in Rajim, 35 km from Raipur, is a prominent temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Best time to visit it is in spring, between mid and end February, when the Rajim Kumbh is held.

    Daman, Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli
    38. Reminiscent of another era, before the arrival of the Portuguese in Diu, are the ancient shivalingams at Gangeshwar beach.

    39. Akshardham Temple is more like a spiritual extravaganza. After the elaborate carvings and more than 2,000 deities in the main hall, watch a sound and light show, screenings at a giant IMAX theatre and take a boat ride--all showcasing Hindu religion and culture.

    40. Built by Shah Jahan, 25,000 people can pray at the Jama Masjid.

    41. If you are a believer of Lord Krishna, then you can't miss the Janmashtami celebrations that infuse the Iskcon temple in East of Kailash with a new energy.

    42. The footfall at the sprawing Chhattapur Temple swells during the time of Navratras and Durga Puja. Besides admiring its elaborate architecture, many believe that tying a thread here will fulfil their wishes. Located on the outskirts of Delhi.

    43. In January, Goa celebrates the colourful Reis Magos or the Feast of the Three Kings. Join in the traditional procession complete with local children dressed as the three kings.

    44. Jump into a well (or a swimming pool, if you want to play safe) at the annual So Joo festival held every June. Wear flowers in your hair, eat Goan delicacies and join in the fun unabashedly as locals go crazy as only Goans can.

    45. Shaan says that the beautiful Mount Mary's Cathedral resonates calm in the middle of Mumbai.

    46. Shigmo is Goa's version of Holi and is a celebration of the end of winter, held in February or March. Each village takes out its own procession before which the guardian deity is bathed and worshipped.

    47. Follow the temple trail and stop by the Mahalaxmi Temple (Panjim), the famous Mangeshi temple or the Shantadurga temple, for a quick darshan.

    48. Just before Diwali, humongous effigies of the demon Narkasur are paraded noisily on the streets and then burnt, in Goa. The competition to make the biggest (and scariest) Narkasur is huge--and expensive. The prizes are huge too, and encourage new participation each year.

    49. The original Akshardham Temple at Gandhinagar gets a large number of visitors for its exhibition galleries, sound-and-light shows, film screenings and re-creation of the Hastinapur Palace from the Mahabharata and the gurukul.

    50. Among the myriad temple complexes that run the length and breadth of India, few can match the visual delight offered by the Jain complex of Palitana. The complex of more than 860 temples crowns the Shatrunjaya peak.

    51. It is quite a sight to watch devotees of Lord Krishna march from Ahmedabad to Dakor on Fagun Poornima in March. According to legend, a devotee called Bodana would walk all the way from Dakor to distant Dwarka on full moon nights. As Bodana was ageing, it is believed Lord Krishna decided to reside at a temple at Dakor.

    52. Lord Krishna's birth celebrations in Dwarka, the city he built, are one of the grandest in the country.

    Himachal Pradesh
    53. Go on a church tour in Dalhousie. Pack in the St. Francis Church, St. John's Church, St. Andrew's Church, St Patrick's Church and the Sacred Heart Convent, all dating back to the late 19th-early 20th century. Marvel at the different architectural styles and design.

    54. The Bhimakali Temple in Sarahan (a village easily accessible from Rampur or taxi from Shimla) is worth a visit for the anthropologically curious and religious alike. This great shrine to the Goddess Kali had human sacrifices till the 18th century and an eerie feel clings to the place.

    55. The hot springs at Manikaran are believed to have gushed out of the earth due to the intervention of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati. The giant gurudwara sustains the whole town and is an important pilgrimage centre.

    Jammu and Kashmir
    56. Kashmir's most sacred shrine for Muslims, Hazratbal, on the banks of the famous Dal Lake in Srinagar, preserves a hair of Prophet Mohammed. Thousands of devotees throng here for the Friday prayers each week.

    57. Considered to be the oldest shrine in Kashmir, the Shankaracharya Temple sits pretty atop a hill in Srinagar. Worth visiting even if you are not spiritually inclined: an octagonal platform that supports the temple is a unique architectural feat, and the terrace has breathtaking views of the valley.

    58. Masked dances by Buddhist lamas and sacrificial offerings mark the colourful two-day Hemis festival held in Ladakh every July to celebrate the birthday of Guru Padmasambhava, the founder of Tibetan Buddhism. The Hemis Monastery is about 45 km from Leh.

    59. The ancient Alchi Gompa dates back to around AD 1000. The monastery has elaborate wood carvings, huge statues of the Buddha, and some of the oldest miniature paintings in Ladakh. Less than 70 km from Leh.

    60. Visit the Chhinnamasta Temple, Rajrappa, about 65 km from Ranchi.

    61. Dedicated to Tirthankara, Parasnath, a Jain temple, sits on a lofty hill about 200 km from Ranchi.

    62. Join the sea of humanity that comes to pay respects at the sacred Baidyanath Temple, Deoghar.

    63. The 14th-century Sharada Temple, on the banks of the River Tunga in Sringeri, is encircled by the Western Ghats. In Chikmagalur district.

    64. Go on a pilgrimage to the serene Kadri Manjunath Temple in Dharmasthala.

    65. The morning ritual at the Channakesava Temple in Belur is witnessed by hundreds every day.

    66. Hike 600 steps up a giant rocky outcrop and come face to face with the towering stone statue of Gomateshwara in the Jain pilgrimage town of Shravanabelagola.

    67. Be overwhelmed by spirituality at the atmospheric Krishna Temple in Udupi, a town that is also a pilgrimage for foodies.

    68. The Anantha Padmanabha Swamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, beautiful and sacred by itself, was also in the news recently for discovery of untold wealth hidden deep within its underground coffers.

    69. Adityapuram near Kottayam is where Kerala's only sun temple is located, and where rakthachandanam (a medicinal herb) is distributed as prasadam.

    70. The Thazhathangadi Mosque in Kottayam is believed to be more than a thousand years old. It is a double-storey structure built with teak around a courtyard in traditional Kerala style.

    71. The ancient Ananthapura Temple near Kasargod is the only lake temple in Kerala.

    72. Located on the Pampa river, the Aranmula Parthasarathy Temple in Pathanamthitta, dedicated to Krishna, is one of the 108 sacred Vishnu temples in the country. It is also known for its wooden structure and staggered sloping roof.

    73. Visit the famous Sabarimala Temple in Pathanamthitta district, dedicated to Lord Ayyappa and built amidst 18 verdant hills. This is the only temple in the country where women of a certain age are disallowed and men are required to undergo a rigorous process of abstention before visiting.

    74. The famous Bhagavathi Temple in Kodungallur is known for its unique architecture, quite typical of Kerala style of building, with sloping tiled roofs and squat buildings.

    75. The Cheraman Perumal Mosque at Methala, Kodungallur district, is believed to be the world's second oldest intact mosque. In instances often found in our enigmatic country, non-Muslims too hold this ancient shrine as sacred.

    76. The birthplace of Adi Shankaracharya, Kalady, near river Periyar in Ernakulam district, is dotted with temples and ancient ghats. Also a rather scenic spot for those not interested in spirituality.

    77. The Santa Cruz Basilica, in Fort Kochi, is over 500 years old.

    78. The Thirunelly Temple, dedicated to Lord Vishnu, is located on a hill 900m high in Wayanad district.

    79. The Paradesi Synagogue in Mattancherry, Fort Kochi, is the oldest in the Commonwealth. Members of Kochi's dying Jewish community continue to meet here for prayers while history buffs come here for a glimpse of the Scrolls of Law, gold crowns and Belgian glass chandeliers.

    80. The St Francis Church in Kochi is where Vasco da Gama was buried after he died during his third visit; 14 years later the remains were exhumed and buried in Lisbon.

    81. The well-known Guruvayur Temple in Thrissur is often called the Dwarka of the South.

    82. Participate in Thrissur Pooram, the annual festival held at the Vadakkunatha Temple, celebrated during April-May where scores of elephants are paraded with deities on their backs.

    83. The 8th-century cave temple at Vizhinjam has unfinished bas-reliefs and carvings related to Shiva, including ones of the lord dancing with Parvati.

    84. The Juma't Mosque on Androth houses the tomb of Saint Ubaidullah, the man who is believed to have brought Islam to the islands. Quite apart from the historical importance, it is architecturally simply beautiful with its dome and minarets.

    85. The capital, Kavaratti island is totally filled with mosques, as many as 52 of them, and each different from the other. Visiting all might be a stretch but don't miss Ujra Mosque, with its ornately carved ceiling, believed to have been carved from a piece of driftwood.

    Madhya Pradesh
    86. The diamond city of Panna has a clutch of remarkable architectural jewels by way of its temples. Most unusual among these is Baldeo Temple, that's modelled after the Palladian-style St Paul's Cathedral, London. Among others noteworthy is the curiously designed Mahamati Prannathji Temple, which has an Islamic-style dome.

    87. About 40 km from Gwalior, the Ekottarso Mahadeva Mandir or 'Temple of 101 Shivlings' is Mitaoli's pride. The most significant feature is the shrine's pillared, circular structure, resembling the Parliament in New Delhi!

    88. The Sanchi Stupa looks especially beautiful when the palash (flame of the forest), the tree that covers the surrounding hills, is in full bloom at the advent of spring.

    89. There's a set of two caves through which flows a stream known as the gupt (hidden) Godavari. According to legend, in order to have a glimpse of Lord Rama in exile, the Godavari secretly came here from Nashik! About 18 km from Chitrakoot.

    90. The Bharat Mandir in Chitrakoot is among the handful of temples dedicated to Lord Rama's brother. Narrated here daily is the legend of Bharat. Unusually, at this temple the priest blesses devotees by placing a pair of wooden clogs on their heads.

    91. Bhojpur's Bhojeshwar Temple is an unfinished Shiva temple. Its claim to fame is its Shivalingam, considered to be the country's tallest. About 28 km from Bhopal.

    92. The line-up of quaint ghats on River Mandakini has given Chitrakoot the tag of mini Varanasi. Almost as atmospheric, but quieter and cleaner, dusk is when it's true charms get revealed as the sounds of temple bells, blend with chants and the soft glow of diyas add to the romance.

    93. Standing proud in extremely picturesque surrounding amidst the River Narmada, Baneshwar Temple, Maheshwar, is a diminutive shrine with a tremendous following. Built in the 15th century it has peculiar panels depicting man-monster battle.

    94. People from all religious faiths walk across a causeway to reach the crowded Haji Ali shrine in Mumbai. The qawwali sessions here are a huge draw.

    95. Feel the spiritual pulse of Nashik on a tour of Ramkund, the sacred wells on the banks of the Godavari River where thousands of pilgrims congregate every day for a tryst with divinity.

    96. Shirdi, a quaint town near Nashik, was home to the iconic Sai Baba.

    97. Near Nagpur is the town of Ramtek (apparently one of the many places where Lord Ram took refuge during his exile), a pilgrimage centre marked by a group of simple but elegant temples sitting atop a hill.

    98. Mumbai turns a whirlwind of colours during Ganesh Chaturthi.

    99. The famous and opulent Siddhivinayak Temple in Prabhadevi is one of Mumbai's most visited religious institutions.

    100. At the Gorai Island off Mumbai stands the Global Pagoda, a magnificent Burmese-style stupa known to house the world's largest unsupported stone dome.

    101. The Govindajee Temple at Imphal has one of the most beautiful settings for the ras leela performance that is held here during Janmashtami each year.

    102. The rather Chinese-style Vishnu Temple is well worth a drive to nearby Bishnupur just for its design.

    103. Koubru Leikha, one of the sacred mountains of Manipur, comes alive with pilgrims in the month of Saawan, who pay their devotions at the 300-year old temple. Situated on NH 35.

    104. Spend Christmas at Ukhrul when the whole place is done up with streamers and bamboo decorations. It's the highest of the Manipuri hill stations and a great place to base yourself while you explore the Siroi Hills and the Khangkhui Lime Cave. About 80 km from Imphal.

    105. Shillong's famous All Saints' Cathedral, constructed in 1902, looks as if it came straight from the cover of an English storybook.

    106. About 25 km from Shillong is the U Lum Sohpetbneng (Navel of the Earth) Peak. Every year on the first Sunday of February, thousands of Khasi-Jaintia people make a pilgrimage to this peak from where you get an amazing view of the Umiam Lake below.

    107. You may hear a bell ringing at midnight if you're near Mahadev Khola Dham, the oldest Hindu temple in Shillong. Locals will tell you that it is ringing on its own!

    108. Overlooking the town of Tura in West Garo hills, the Cathedral of Mary Help of Christians is built in Gothic style. Its bells are from Italy.

    109. In Thakunbari, Tura, you'll find Meghalaya's Kamakhya temple. According to the priest, the temple was built in 1834 and houses the 'navel' of the goddess Sati.

    110. Locals believe that all wishes made at the Mai Parbot Temple are fulfilled. You will find this on the way from Shillong to Guwahati, near the Navel of the Earth peak.

    111. The same is said for the Dargah of Shah Kamal Baba, two km from Kata Beel on Tura-Mahendraganj Road.

    112. If you want to hear traditional Mizo music, the best place to do it is in one of the churches in Aizawl. Or you can listen to the bells of the Salvation Army Temple. In fact, on a Sunday morning, when all the church bells in Aizawl are ringing, the Salvation Army Temple's stands out.

    113. Christmas is the best time to be in Aizawl when carol parties go door to door to raise donations and also collect Yuletide goodies.

    114. The Rath Yatra at Puri Jagannath Temple is the biggest chariot festival in India. The revered shrine, however, is open only to Hindus. Non-Hindus can catch a glimpse of the festivities from the Raghunandan Library.

    115. Adwaita Baba's ashram in Puri is associated with the legend of Ramakrishna Paramhansa. He is said to have been the disciple of the man the ashram is named after. For a small donation, you can eat the delicious satvik prasad here.

    116. There are thousand-year-old temples crammed into 3 sq km in Bhubaneswar. One of them is the famous and beautiful Raja Rani Temple while the other is Kedar Gauri Temple where, the locals say, two lovers once jumped into a tank together.

    117. Bindu Sagar is the capital Bhubaneswar's largest manmade tank, and also the centre point of the city's famous temple area. Once a year, the deity from the famous Lingaraja Temple is brought here for a ritual dip among great religious frenzy.

    118. The temple of Vidala-Nrusimha stands at the foot of the pretty Gandhamardan hills. There is a spectacular waterfall at the spot, too.

    119. Discover the leaning temples of Shiva at Huma, about 20 km south of Sambalpur town. The main temple tilts in one direction and the smaller ones tilt in the other. Even the boundary is slightly tilted.

    120. The Ghanteswari Temple, 33 km from Sambalpur, will have your ears jangling. It's decorated with bells, bells and more bells.

    121. Visit Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry's most iconic landmark, on Rue de la Marine in the evening and wander around the serene premises, amidst the profusion of flowers and a perfumed cloud arising of burning incense sticks.

    122. Many years in the making, the shiny, spectacular and golden Matrimandir in Auroville is a stunning edifice. Inside, a warm glow and soothing music make for an ideal location for meditation.

    123. Between 1692 and 1791, the Church of Immaculate Conception was razed and built three times; the present structure is almost 300 years old.

    124. The Manikula Vinayagar Temple is considered to have been around even before the French occupied the territory in 1675. You can buy interesting clay pottery outside the temple.

    125. The Notre Dame des Anges Church (Our lady of the Angels Church) on Rue Dumas is a beautiful Greco-Roman structure with exquisite external masonry; don't miss the marble statue of Joan of Arc across the street.

    126. Modelled on the lines of the famous Vaishno Devi Temple in Jammu, the Mata Lal Devi Mandir in Amritsar has winding pathways and stairs. It is an interesting site for its little grottos and caves which is more a theme park and less a temple.

    127. Located on the Amristar-Chogawan Road, the Ram Tirath Temple is believed to be the birthplace of Luv and Kush. The legend is that sage Valmiki penned the Ramayana in this very spot.

    128. The serenity of the Golden Temple in Amritsar is unparalleled. Thousands come here day and night for a glimpse of the sacred Granth during Prabhat Pheri and the nightly Palki ceremonies. A meal at the langar, perhaps the largest community kitchen in the country, is a humbling experience.

    129. The gurudwara at Anandpur Sahib is also very significant as the birthplace of the Khalsa or the religious soldiers who fought for their faith and state. The temple is believed to house sacred relics of the revered tenth Sikh Guru Gobind Singh.

    130. One of the 51 shaktipeethas, Jalandhar's Devi Talaab Mandir has a gilded exterior and holy tank.

    131. Kathgarh Shiva Temple at Pathankot is associated with a host of legends. The most popular one is that during the auspicious festival of Naagpanchami, the gap between two stones representing Shiva and Parvati miraculously reduces.

    132. The famous Ajmer Sharif Dargah is a splendid monument in its own right and has regular qawwali performances. A soul-stirring atmosphere here.

    133. Located about 2 km from Mount Abu, the five Dilwara temples are a notable spiritual as well as architectural marvel in marble. Constructed during the reign of the Chalukya kings, these temples have ornate carvings and yet reflect a quiet air of spirituality associated with Jain places of worship.

    134. Eklingji Temple dedicated to Lord Shiva, near Udaipur.

    135. The country's only Brahma Temple is in Pushkar and is built in marble and sandstone. This temple is thronged by thousands of devotees during the Kartik Purnima in November.

    136. Located in a little village northwest of Udaipur, the Saas Bahu Temple complex is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. The reason for its rather odd nomenclature is because the two main temples of the complex stand very close to each other and are constructed on a common platform symbolising the triangular relationship of a mother-in-law daughter-in-law and the son/husband.

    137. The famous Rumtek Monastery, 24 km from Gangtok, is the largest monastery in Sikkim and is located near flowing streams, with a scenic mountain range as a backdrop making it an extremely picturesque spot.

    138. Phodong Monastery, located about 30 km from Gangtok, was built in the early 18th century but an older monastery had predated the existing one. It has a great collection of ancient murals.

    139. Pelling's famous Pemayangtse Monastery is a must visit and it too, houses a good collection of murals and sculptures.

    140. The historic Shiva Temple at Legship, Western Sikkim, is believed to have been mentioned in the epic of Mahabharata.

    Tamil Nadu
    141. The Andavar Dargah near Nagore is fascinating for the shipping masts alongside the collection of minarets, which indicate they were built at different periods.

    142. On full moon nights, hundreds of worshippers circumambulate the sacred Annamalai hill, atop which sits the beautiful Shiva temple with its massive gopurams.

    143. Chennai has an astonishing number of churches most of them concentrated in the Santhome area. Must-visits are the neo-Gothic style Basilica of the National Shrine of St Thomas and St Mary's Church, which is the oldest surviving church built by the British.

    144. The stunning golden gopuram is the highlight of the very famous and very striking Kamakshi Temple in Kanchipuram, known to be one of the three most sacred places for Shakti cult worship.

    145. In the temple town of Kumbakonam, 18 temples vie for attention including those of Adi Kumbeshwara, Nageshwara, Chakrapani and Sarangapani among others.

    146. One of the best example of Tamil Nadu's temple architecture is the revered Meenakshi Temple in Madurai with it many gopurams and shrines and an estimated 33,000 sculptures.

    147. The Nataraja Temple in Chidambaram is dedicated to Shiva's dancing avatar, and is also the place where aspiring dancers come to pay homage and seek guidance.

    148. The magnificent Ramanathaswamy Temple in Rameswaram is built out in the sea and accessed by the famous Pamban bridge.

    149. The serene Ramana Maharshi Ashram, is full of tame peacocks and other animals. A trek up the hillock behind the ashram is your ticket to some stunning views.

    150. The massive Brihadeeshwara Temple in Thanjavur, spread over 33,000 sq ft, has a 25 ft single block granite stone sanctum and a 13-tiered gopuram rising nearly 200 feet into the sky.

    151. Asia's biggest temple, weighing 300 tonnes and 30m high, can be seen at the impressive and sprawling Thyagarajaswamy Temple in Thiruvarur. It is pulled during the car festival of the deity held in April-May.

    152. Stand at the confluence of five tributaries of the Cauvery (Vadavar, Vettar, Vennar, Kudamurutti and Cauvery) at Thiruvaiyuru, which also happens to be the birth place of the 17th century saint-composer Thyagaraja, the doyen of Carnatic music.

    153. Our Lady of Good Health on the beach of Velankanni.

    154. The Vishnu Temple at Srirangam, on a 600 acre island connected by a bridge to the mainland, is built in seven concentric walls with many gopurams, shrines, pavilions, water bodies and other structures.

    155. Experience the colourful Kharchi Puja, where no less than fourteen gods are worshipped at Agartala's Chaturdashdebta Temple, built in the style of a Bengali hut and topped rather quaintly with what looks like the stupa.

    156. Unakoti is a Saiba pilgrimage site dating back to the 7th-9th century, if not earlier. Adding drama to rock carvings and murals are the waterfalls that cascade on all sides of the place. Near Kailashahar.

    157. Agartala's Tripura Sundari, considered one of the 52 shaktipeethas in Hindu mythology is one of the most sacred temples in Eastern India. It is supposed to look like a turtle, so you'll find tame turtles in the lake that come up to be fed.

    158. The sacred Dumboor Lake looks like Lord Shiva's drum and it is where a rambunctious Pus Sankranti Mela is held in January.

    159. Kamlasagar, situated close to the Bangladesh border, has a 15th-century Kali Temple. Oddly, it also has a sandstone image of the Durga.

    160. The Buddhist Temple of Pechartal, about 10 km from Kumarghat, has an image of the Buddha moulded from eight metals. The statue, which is specially flown in from neighbouring Rangoon, weighs a staggering 700 kg.

    Uttar Pradesh
    161. The world's oldest living city, Varanasi owes much of its fame to the famous Vishwanath Temple. Believers say that one visit to this ancient temple and a dip in the Ganga paves the way to moksha. The temple has a stunning gold spire.

    162. One of Varanasi's most spectacular daily events is the unmissable Ganga Aarti, held in the evenings at the historic Dashashwamedh Ghat. Oil lamps are offered, bells peal, mantras are intoned and huge lamps with fire and oil are part of the ritual. The sights and sounds are awe-inspiring and extremely memorable.

    163. Close to Varanasi is Sarnath, where, in sixth century BC, the Buddha delieverd his first sermon, and set in motion the "Wheel of Law", the Dharmachakra. Today, the town has a park with several monasteries, temples, archaeological finds, two stupas and remains of the shrine where Emperor Ashoka is said to have meditated.

    164. Another of Varanasi's famous spiritual spots is the Sankat Mochan Temple, a shrine that honours Lord Hanuman. Those unhappy with their stars seem to like this temple a lot. Be warned: monkeys seem to have free run of the place.

    165. Thousands come to make offerings at the Prayaag, the confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna and the mythical Saraswati, at Allahabad. Rent a boat at the ghat for a ride out to the sacred Sangam. From the boat, you can also get impressive views of Akbar's fort.

    166. Relive the Krishna Lila by driving around Mathura to lesser known sites of Braj Bhoomi. Across the Yamuna from Mathura, Mahaban and Gokul are associated with Krishna's foster parents, Nanda and Yashoda. Gokul is where Krishna first revealed his divinity to his foster mother Yashoda. The site of Govardhan is where the god is said to have lifted the hill.

    167. Ayodhya is among the holiest cities for Hindus and the first sight that strikes you when you reach the town is the temples along the riverfront of the Sarayu or Ghagra. Among the scores of temples on the river bank the most striking is the Hanuman Garhi, set in the old fort of Ayodhya. A climb of about 76 steps leads to its gilded interiors.

    168. Kushinagar or Kusinagara is revered as the site of Buddha's Mahaparinirvana, his death and cremation that marked his final liberation from the cycles of death and rebirth. The main temple has a large gilded reclining Buddha, reconstructed from the remains of an earlier Malla image. The town is dotted with a number of stupas, monasteries, temples and international Buddhist centres.

    169. A visit to the ancient pilgrim site of Jageshwar, which has about 200 stone temples built in honour of Lord Shiva in the midst of tranquil mountains, is specially recommended at Shivratri. About 34 km from Almora.

    170. The sculptures and stone carvings are breathtaking at the thousand-year-old Baijnath Temple complex, situated along the river Gomti. Lies about 17 km from Kausani.

    171. The evening aarti at Rishikesh is a hauntingly spiritual experience. Bhajans and prayers set the tone for this evening ritual near Parmarth Niketan ashram, in front of a tall Shiv statue along the banks of Ganga.

    172. Patal Bhubaneshwar is a fascinating cave shrine dedicated to Lord Shiva. Water oozing from limestone rocks has also created several interesting formations resembling Hindu gods and goddesses in smaller caves. About 90 km from Pithoragarh.

    173. Another Lord Shiva temple is the main attraction in the temple town of Bageshwar, which literally means 'Abode of Gods'. A colourful time to visit is during the annual Uttarayani fair held in January.

    174. The Char Dham Yatra goes through scenic Gangotri.

    175. The confluences of River Alakananda with five smaller rivers in the Garhwal Himalayas are considered sacred for Hindus. The temples and ghats of the Panch Prayaag are associated with many myths and legends.

    176. Har-ki-Pauri in the famous holy city of Haridwar is where another evocative and beautiful Ganga Aarti is held every evening.

    West Bengal
    177. The Belur Math founded by Swami Vivekananda is a pristine spiritual retreat as well as the headquarters of the Ramakrishna Mission. The temple located on the banks of the Hooghly River is a beautiful combination of different architectural and religious styles and houses a statue of Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa.

    178. The Dakshineshwar Kali Temple is where the Paramhansa served as a priest before he renounced the worldly life.

    179. Make a day trip to the old French Colony of Chandernagore to see the sights of this quaint town rife with French influences. Try and time your trip around the Jagadhhatri Puja in November which is famous for its spectacular lighting. About 40 km from Kolkata.

    180. The famous terracotta temples in Bishnupur were built during the reign of the Malla kings in the 17th-18th centuries. At a distance of about 200 km from Kolkata.

    181. While in Ghoom, do visit the Sampten Choling Monastery. Peaceful and pristine, there is something incredible untouched and spiritual about this place. It also has a number of rare Buddhist texts.

    182. If you happen to be in Kolkata around Durga Puja and things seem a little too chaotic for you, take one of the Durga Puja tours offered by the WBTDC and wait to be bedazzled by the sounds and lights. Complete with a car, there are various tours depending upon your interest ranging from the historic Durga Pujas in ancestral Bengali houses to the renowned North Calcutta community pujas replete with some of the best art work and lighting in the city. If the hip, new thing is more your scene, then make your way to the sprawling pandals of South Calcutta with cutting edge themes and decor. Contact the WBTDC office at (033) 2248 8271.

    Source: News - Latest News - Breaking News India - Live Update - India Today
    Razor, W.G.Ewald, A chauhan and 2 others like this.
  3. Bhadra

    Bhadra Defence Professionals Defence Professionals Senior Member

    Jul 11, 2011
    Likes Received:
    How many of these have you visited?

    Could you share photographs / videos of your visits or otherwise ?

    Some of the places or most of the places listed are really some of the great places on earth.
  4. sob

    sob Moderator Moderator

    May 4, 2009
    Likes Received:
    New Delhi
    For me the most peaceful place is my house, with my kids asleep, a nice movie on the DVD, a glass of wine and the company of my wife.

    It is sheer bliss, nothing to beat it.
  5. parijataka

    parijataka Senior Member Senior Member

    Oct 15, 2011
    Likes Received:
    Nice list, need to read through fully! One interesting news that was not much covered in mainstream media is the secret visit of a Pakistani diplomat and his wife to Padmanabhswamy temple in Kerala after the discovery of the temple wealth.
    Mad Indian likes this.
  6. Mad Indian

    Mad Indian Proud Bigot Veteran Member Senior Member

    Jan 27, 2012
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    Podigai Hills.
    You sure on this....???? if yes then post a few links.....
  7. parijataka

    parijataka Senior Member Senior Member

    Oct 15, 2011
    Likes Received:
    Here you are -

    Hindu Aikyavedi seeks action against diplomat

    Express News Service
    Last Updated : 23 Jul 2011 11:20:50 AM IST

    KOCHI: The Hindu Aikyavedi has demanded action against a Pakistani diplomat, who along with his wife, visited the Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple on Thursday.

    Hindu Aikyavedi general secretary Kummanam Rajashekaran said that in the wake of the current importance of the temple, the visit of the Pakistani official should be taken seriously. The visa laws in the country prohibit any diplomat from visiting temples and important places without the permission of the District Collector. Here Pakistani diplomat Abeed Sayed and his wife did not inform or seek permission to visit the temple, he said.

    Kummanan said the visit raises security questions and shows the negligence of the government in this regard. Even after the police came to know about the visit of the diplomat and family, they didn’t make any move to take him into custody for questioning, Kummanam said.
  8. wrigsted

    wrigsted Regular Member

    Jan 13, 2012
    Likes Received:
    Normally I do not think items with religious content belong on a military forum. But I must admit that I found this interesting and taught me many new things that I had not heard of before. So a big thanks to OP:namaste:
    W.G.Ewald likes this.
  9. Vyom

    Vyom Seeker Elite Member

    Dec 23, 2009
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    Bliss is not transient.
  10. KS

    KS Bye bye DFI Veteran Member

    Aug 3, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Tamil Nadu has much more sacred (and famous) places than mentioned here.

    Arupadai Veedu (the Six holiest abodes of Lord Muruga) - Palani, Thiruthani, Pazhamudhir cholai, Thiruparangkundram, Swami Malai, Tiruchendhur.

    Kanchipuram Varadharaja swamy temple

    Thirunallaru (only temple dedicated to Saturn in India)

    Uchi Pillayar Temple at Tiruchi.

    Kabaleeswarar temple in Mylapore.

    etc etc.
  11. Sabir

    Sabir DFI TEAM Senior Member

    Jul 31, 2009
    Likes Received:
    ghar se masjid hai bahut dur chalo yu kar le
    kisee rote huye bachche ko hansaaya jaaye

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