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Tour to Gangotri

If you want to get closer to heaven - in the spiritual sense -- come to India. The country has been known as the seat of spiritualism and India's cosmopolitan nature is best reflected in its pilgrim centres. Religion is the lifeblood of the nation and the followers of major religions and sects -- Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Jainism, Zororastrianism and Christianity -- have lived here for centuries. The visible outpouring of religious fervour is witnessed in the architecturally lavish temples, mosques, monasteries and churches spread across the length and breadth of the country. In addition to the pilgrim centres, the large following of holy personalities like the Sathya Sai Baba, Osho and others is ample proof that spirituality and religion in the country is a serious pursuit.

Hindu scriptures mention the presence of 330 million deities in the pantheon and the most popular spiritual tours are those that are centred round the holy Ganges River. The aarti held every evening at the Har-ki-pauri in Haridwar, with hundreds of earthen lamps and flowers on the water is an unforgettably spiritual experience. Among the other places are Rishikesh, Badrinath and Kedarnath (along with Haridwar they make up the Char Dhams) Gangotri, Yamunotri, Allahabad and Varanasi. The banks of the river Ganga, the tranquil surroundings and the temples go a long way to strengthen the belief in the powers of the Almighty. The spiritual sites in South India at Rameshwaram, Mahabalipuram and Tirupati are equally famous.

For the Buddhists too, the country is dotted with places that are associated with the life and times of Gautam Buddha. Lumbini, the birthplace of Buddha, is a hallowed spot while Sarnath is the place where Lord Buddha delivered his first sermon. Not too far away, it was in Bodhgaya, under the holy Bodhi tree, that Lord Buddha attained enlightenment and it was in Vaishali, that he delivered his last sermon and announced his Nirvana. The Jain temples of Dilwara and Mt Abu draw thousands of Jain followers. Even a small community like the Bahais, have their own Lotus Temple at Delhi.

Guru Nanak Ji Birthday

The Sikhs have their Golden Temple in Amritsar, which is a must-visit at least once in their lifetime. Perhaps, the most revered of Sikh shrines is the Hemkund Sahib. Devotees trek to a height of 4329 meters to pray at the world's highest gurudwara. The other Sikh pilgrimage sites include the Sri Guru Nanak Devji gurudwara at Manikaran, which is also known for its hot water springs with healing properties, the holy city of Paonta Sahib and Anandpur Sahib, the meditation spot for the Sikh Gurus.

The followers of Islam have their pilgrimage sites in the mosques and shrines of Sufi saints like Moinuddin Chisti and Nizamuddin Aulia. For Christians, spiritual tours to Goa, among other places like Mumbai and Bandel near Kolkata, are a must. Among the most popular sites in Goa are the Church of Our Lady of Rosary, The Rachol Seminary, Church of St. Francis of Assisi, and the Basilica of Bom Jesus (where the remains of St Francis Xavier have been kept and taken out for public viewing once every ten years).

A spiritual tour to any one of India's pilgrimage sites is sure to be an unforgettable experience.
We provide a list of the country's important religious festivals:


JANUARY New Year's Day
Guru Govind Singh's Birthday
Bhogi (South India)
Makaradi Snana, Makar Sankranti, Pongal (South India)
Mattu Pongal (South India)
Floating Festival
FEBRUARY Basant Panchami/Sri Panchami
Id-ul Zuha (Bakrid)
Guru Ravi Das's Birthday
Shivaji Jayanti
Swami Dayananad Saraswati Jayanti
MARCH Maha Shivratri
Birthday of Sri Ramakrishna
Ash Wednesday
Holika Dahan
Dol Yatra (in West Bengal)
Maha Shivratri
Jamshedi Naoroj (Parsi)
APRIL Indian New Year's Day
Chaitra Sukladi (Gudi, Padava, Udagi, Cheti Chand)
Gangaur (Gouri Tritiya)
Vaisaki (Punjab, Haryana, HP, Delhi & Orissa)
Tamil New Year's Day
Mahavir Jayanti
Vishu (Kerala)
Vaisakhadi (Bengal)
Bahag Bihu (Assam)
Good Friday
MAY Pooram (Trichur Pooram)
Meenakshi Kalyanam
Milad-Un-Nabi or Id-e-Milad
(Birthday of Prophet Mohammed)
Buddha Purnima
Ascension Day (Holy Thursday)
JUNE Jamai Sasthi (Bengal)
Fatiha Yazdahum
JULY Rath Yatra
Naga Panchami
Raksha Bandhan
Amarnath Yatra
Gayatri Japam
Parsi New Year's Day
Ganesh Chaturthi
SEPTEMBER Onam (Thiru Onam Day)
Hazrat Ali's Birthday
Biswakarama Puja
Mahalaya Amavasya
Maharaja Agrasen's Jayanti
OCTOBER Durga Puja
Ayudha Puja
Vijaya Dasami, Dussera (Ramlila)
Kojagari Lakshmi Puja
Maharshi Valmiki's Birthday
Kali Puja
Vijay Dasami, Dussera
(Bengal and Kerala)
Lakshmi Puja
Deepavali (Diwali)
Govardhan Puja
Kartika Sukladi
Bhai Duj/Bhratri Dvitiya
Chat (Bihar)
NOVEMBER Jagadhatri Puja
Guru Nanak's Birthday
Pushkar Fair
(22nd day of Ramzan)
Id-ul Fitr
Guru Teg Bahadur's Martyrdom Day
DECEMBER Christmas
Guru Govind Singh's Birthday

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