Aside from their iconic curries and spices, India is also known as the place of meditation and history. It has been known as a great place of worship and home to remarkable architecture such as the Taj Mahal and houses a portion of the Himalayas, derived from Sanskrit words hima meaning snow and alaya meaning abode.
India’s history is also a rich one - it’s filled with castes, tribes, and even a wide array of religious minorities. Since the influence of the British, it’s no surprise that most Indians can speak English and it’s actually a big help for tourists around the globe. Since it’s the seventh largest country in the world, there are more places needed to discover in this incredible country.
Some people might have learned valuable knowledge about the Kama Sutra, and how it affects the sex life, marriage, and family - this originated from India as well. Even the common favorite pastime, yoga, does miraculous things to one’s mental, emotional, and even physical state. It has been a practice, and a discipline that originated in India. Most of the Indian discoveries are still enjoyed today - architecture, astronomy, logic, mathematics, mineralogy, metallurgy, and so much more.
But aside from the vast practices and knowledge India has given the world, there are a lot of historical buildings that must be visited in India. These buildings tell a story like no other, but the Sapta Puri stand out above the rest.
Sapta Puri are seven pilgrimage sites that are believed to be the birthplace of influential spirit masters and even gods! Here are India’s seven holy places that one must need to check and visit:
This sacred place is also written as ‘Hardwar’, meaning ‘Gateway to god Vishnu’ ( Hari) then ‘Gateway to Shiva’ (Har). This place has been considered the most holiest in Uttarakhand, a state in India. This city has been strategically constructed on the western bank of Ganges into the plains where believed Har-Ki-Pauri Ghat was built to facilitate pilgrimage of holy baths.
Almost annually, religious people gather in this sacred place to bathe where the believed preserved Vishnu’s feet imprinted on a rock resides. Every evening is a scene out of a movie - people offer aarti, a couple of earthen lamps on a floating leaf filled with lovely flowers, as the bells chime with the chants of holy hymns. Aarti symbolizes love, gratitude, and prayers - that can be offered up to elders and deities. Sometimes, even items such as vehicles and homes in order to bring in goodwill and luck.
Krishna, believed to be the incarnation of the god Vishnu, is believed to reside in Mathura then migrated to Dwarka. He then established this holy city as his capital on the bank of the Gomti River. But along with powerful deities and mighty gods, there was an awaiting downfall and also made worse by a series of floods and eventually submerged this city. The submerged ruins of this holy city can still be visited with the assistance of a professional diver and proper diving equipment.
Currently, the ancient Dwarakhadheesh Temple, also known as the Jagat Mandir, is an outstanding seven-story structure that rises above the Arabian sea with pride. This temple was believed to exist since 13 A.D. and has been hosting religious pilgrimage for the Hindus ever since.
A pilgrimage city that is also known as Canjeevaram. The Pallava Dynasty took control in the 6th century, and controlled it for two centuries. It was believed that Xuanzang, a Chinese pilgrim, visited the court and was then forever recorded in his chronicles. It has existed for over 1000 years and was believed to be graced with the presence of Buddha.
There have been Jain and Buddhist temples of the Chola Dynasty during its reign, but no longer exists as of this current time. The philosopher Ramanujacharya who then was creating the Vishishtadvaita studied here as well. The temple was divided into three zones accordingly to three gods, Vishnu on the east, Shiva on the north, and Jain on the east across the Vedavathi River.
This site dates back to 3 B.C. and has a religious tradition of celebrating god Shiva’s victory over the demonic king known as Tripurasura. It has been named Ujjainyini, which means ‘conquers with pride’. It then fell under the reign of Vima Kadphises, and while during the reign of Kushan Dynasty, Shiva’s greatness has once again been celebrated.
Ujjain was also known as the largest city in Malwa region and was then ruled by Jai Singh II, who built an observatory, a bold advancement to science, which was then eventually called Jantar Mantar. People visit this place to commemorate the victory of Shiva over the demonic king as a part of their religious pilgrimage.
Also known as Kashi, is considered the holiest and the oldest city of the Sapta Puri. It is also believed to be one of the oldest inhabited cities in the world. This amazing city goes far back to the Buddha period and even a centre for Brahminical learning as well. It had become a home to some wise men such as philosophers, sages, writers, and musicians, but was then brought to ruin in the 12th century when Mohammad Ghauri plundered the city. Most of the buildings are made during the 18th century and are the only surviving establishments.
This city houses over 23,000 temples and 81 ghats, a slab of stone that looks like stairs for bathing, and the most worshipped ghats are the Manikarnika Ghat, Harishchandra Ghat, and Dashashwamedh Ghat.
Commonly, the Manikarnika Ghat and the Harishchandra Ghat are considered holy, where the people come cremate their dead. In terms of divine benevolence, this has been marked as the favourite city of the Hindu god Shiva and that the city was once called as Shiv ki Nagri in the ancient text called the Rigveda.
This scenic city then blesses your eyes during religious festivals wherein Maha Shivaratri, also known as the great night of Shiva, a procession takes place - various Arti are offered by the people, and they let it float away as a form of prayer.
This town is believed to be the birthplace of a god named Rama and is also known as the Ram Janmabhoomi, meaning Rama’s birthplace. This small town is situated near Sarayu river and is filled with over 100 temples in a small area. There is also a religious image of a Hanuman that is always filled with flowers, along with historical icons like Sita, and a Lakshman ghat where Rama’s brother was believed to have taken a bath. This place has been traced back to 6 B.C. and has starred in many historical documents and architectural references.
This city is strategically placed at the right bank of the Yamuna River, and was also called Mathura Mandala, the heart of Indian culture. It was also believed that Krishna was born in this city and can be traced back since 1200 B.C. Keshav Dev Temple was built with the holy images of Radha Krishna and filled with idols of Rama, Sita, and Lakshman. On the bank of Yamuna River, aarti is usually offered every evening where Krishna was believed to rest after slaying the King Kansa, the evil king of Mathura.
As you can tell, India is absolutely full of holy cities and temples. If you spent a lifetime exploring India, that still wouldn't be long enough. Hinduism is the oldest religion on earth, and in India, it shows.