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North India Pilgrimage

Most of the Hindus regard as particularly beneficial to worship at places where God has been revealed. These Hindus not only visit the famous nearby pilgrimage places like Varanasi, situated on the banks of the Ganges, but also visit the temples, hill tops and rivers all across India. Certain rivers and towns are also very sacred. These seven holy rivers are the Ganga, Yamuna, Indus and Sarasvati in the North, and the Narmada, Godavari and Kaveri in the South. Besides this, the seven holy places are Haridwar, Mathura, Ayodhya, Ujjain and Varanasi in the North, Dwarka and Kanchipuram in the South. In addition to these places there are four Holy Abodes which are Badrinath, Puri, Rameshvaram and Dwarka which have the unique distinction of being both a Holy Abode and a

North India Pilgrimage

Holy Place. Various festivals are also celebrated in the temples. The Jagannath temple in Puri is well known for the Rath Yatra that draws Hindu from all over India. Besides this there are various other small village fairs. During these festivals and fairs you can see the villagers walking in small groups, brightly dressed and often high spirited, sometimes as far as eighty to a hundred kilometers.

Today, most of the Hindus consider the worship, often referred to as “performing puja” as an integral part of their faith. The majority of Hindus have a small temple in their homes of one of the gods of the Hindu mythology. Various individuals and families also visit the holy places such as Benaras or Puri. Such sites have a temple which is dedicated to a major deity but there are various other shrines in the vicinity which are dedicated to various other gods. The various acts of devotion are aimed towards the relatively abstract goal of liberation, from rebirth and meeting the urgent needs for the life like good health, finding a suitable wife or husband, the birth of a son, prosperity and good fortune. In this respect there is a remarkable similarity in the devotion of the various pilgrims of all faiths whether they visit Hindu, Buddhist or Jain.

Temples, the tombs of the Muslim saints or the churches. In the domestic shrine or in a great temple, performing Puja means making an offering to deity and Darshan means having a view of the deity. Although there are devotional movements among Hindus in which singing and praying is practiced in the groups and the Hindus worship is considered as an act performed by the individuals. Thus, the Hindu temples may be a little more than a shrine in the middle of the street, that houses an image of the deity which will be tended by a priest and visited at special times when a Darshan of the resident God can be obtained.

Pilgrimage Places in North India


Ujjain is the quiet and relatively small provincial town. Ujjain is situated about 60 kms. from Indore. Ujjain is one of the greatest cities of ancient India and one of the seven sacred cities of Hindus in India. It is also one of the four towns where the Kumbh Mela is held and plays as a host up to a million pilgrims who gather on the place every twelve years. Various people came here to bath in the Shipra river and worship at the temples on its banks. According to Hindu astronomers, it is also the city from where the Tropic of Cancer pass. This explains the presence of the observatory (Vedha Shala) built by the Raja Jai Singh of Jaipur in 1725. Even today, the Ephemeris tables (predicted positions of the planets) are published here. Ujjain is also known for industry and crafts. The best season to visit Ujjain is from October to March.

Ayodhya is one of the seven most sacred cities of the Hindus in India and situated about 135 km from Lucknow, on the banks of the Gaghara river. The name Ayodhya means which cannot be subdued by war. It covers an area of 10.24 square km. Ayodhya is one of the seven holy Hindu cities. This holy city holds a place of pride among Hindus as it is the birthplace of Lord Rama, the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Ayodhya is also believed to be the capital of Kosala, a kingdom ruled by Lord Rama. Ayodhya is an equally important place for Jains and Sikhs. Ayodhya is a city of temples as there are about 300 temples here. The famous places in Ayodhya are Shri Ramjanma Bhoomi, Ramkote, Kala Rama, Kanak Bhavan, Swargdwar, Nageshwarnath Temple, Hanumangarhi, Treta Ke Thakur, Tulsi Smarak Bhawan and Ramkatha Museum.


Mathura is an important place of pilgrimage in India as it is the birth place of Lord Krishna. Mathura is one of the most sacred cities of Hinduism and is situated on the western banks of the Yamuna River. The thousands of devotees visit this place throughout the year. It lies at the heart of the Brajbhoomi, a land that is imbued with sanctity, for it was here that the young Krishna was nurtured. The little towns and hamlets in this area are still alive with the tales of his mischievous pranks, his extraordinary exploits and still seem to echo with the sound of his flute. Today, Mathura with its many temples and splendid ghats along the Yamuna river, is an important pilgrimage town.


The Char Dham of Uttaranchal consists of the four major shrines of Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath. Badrinath is one of the holiest pilgrimage shrine in the Garhwal Himalayas among all these shrines. Badrinath is situated amidst the magnificent background of the Neelkanth mountains in the twin mountain ranges of Nar and Narayan, along the left banks of the Alaknanda river. According to the Hindu Shastras, no pilgrimage is complete unless one visit Badrinath, the abode of Vishnu. Along with Rameshwaram, Dwarka and Puri it is one of the four holiest places in India and it is a living faith with every Hindu to visit the shrine of Badrinath once in a lifetime. The Badrinath temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. This temple remains closed during the winter season and is open from May to November
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Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath are the four major shrines that constitute the Char Dham of Uttaranchal. Among all these shrines, Gangotri is the fourth major and picturesque pilgrimage shrine in the Garhwal Himalayas. The melting Gangotri glacier give rise to sacred Ganga river. The Gangotri Temple is situated at a height of 3140 meters amidst charming surroundings of deodars and pines, about 248 kms. from Rishikesh. The Temple of Gangotri is dedicated to the goddess Ganga and is erected whre she is believed to have been descended on earth for the first time. This temple is visited by lakhs of pilgrims between May and October, every year. By November, Gangotri is covered by snow and it is believed that the goddess retreats to Mukhba, her winter abode
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Haridwar is situated at an altitude of 294 m and one of the seven holy cities of Hindus. The name Haridwar means the Dwar of Hari or the Door of Lord Vishnu. In Haridwar, the Vishnu’s footprint are placed on the banks of the holy river giving it its sanctity. Haridwar is situated at the base of the Shiwalik hills and on the west banks of the river Ganga. The River Ganga passes through its last gorge and begins a 2,000 km journey across the plains of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal to the Bay of Bengal. The main tourist attraction in Haridwar is the Har-ki-Pauri. Har-ki-Pauri is the place where Lord Vishnu is believed to have left his footprints. Some part of the Ganga has been diverted here and this later becomes the canal. Bathing here is believed to cleanse all sins.


Kedarnath is situated about 77 kms. from Rudraparayg. Kedarnath is situated amidst the background of snow covered mountain peaks of the majestic Kedarnath range, at an altitude of 3584 meters on the head of the Mandakini river. The Kedarnath temple is one of the twelve 'Jyotirlingas' of Lord Shiva and one of the holiest pilgrimage shrine for the Hindus. The Kedarnath temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and visited by many pilgrims every year. The main idol in the temple is the linga of Lord Shiva, in pyramidal shape. During the winters, the shrine is submerged in the snow and closed. The ideal time to visit this place is between May and October.


Rishikesh means the place of sages. Rishikesh is situated about 25 kms. from Haridwar in the north Indian state of Uttaranchal. Rishikesh is located at a height of about 1360 feet above sea level. Rishikesh is situated around the Ganga river as it swiftly runs through the last hills of the Himalaya. Rishikesh, the gateway to Himalayas, is considered as the Mecca for Yoga and Meditation centres. The spectacle of the Ganga rushing through the Himalayan foothills is an awesome sight. It is believed that several yogis and sages lived and practised penance here. Today, there are various ashrams in Rishikesh. The Maharishi Yogi also had his ashram here and was fortunate to capture the imagination and attention of the Beatles in the early sixties. Rishikesh is also the base for travel to the hill regions of Garhwal and the four holy shrines of Badrinath, Kedarnath, Gangotri and Yamunotri and also the Sikh Shrine at Hemkund Sahib.


Gangotri, Yamunotri, Kedarnath and Badrinath are the four major shrines that constitute the Char Dham. Among all these shrines, Yamunotri is the first pilgrimage shrine of the Char Dham Yatra in the Garhwal Himalayas. Yamunotri is the westernmost shrine in the region, dominated by the Banderpunch. Yamunotri is situated at a height of 3235 meters in the western region of the Garhwal Himalayas. Yamunotri is the source of the river Yamuna, the twin sister of Yama, the Lord of Death. Anyone who bathes in her waters will be spared a tortuous death. Yamuna is also the daughter of Surya, the Sun. The Yamuna river originates from the Champasar glacier, lying 1 km ahead of the shrine, at an altitude of 4421 meters. The Yamunotri Temple is dedicated to the goddess Yamuna. This shrine attracts devotees in the large numbers from May to October. Various people visit the temple of Yamunotri either on foot or ponies.

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