An astounding kaleidoscope of devotion, peace, and harmony, Uttar Pradesh, is blessed with the pilgrimage shrines and holy spots since ages. It is a land of cultural lavishness and religious brotherhoods as it greets Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Jains, Sikhs and Christians with equal love and reverence.
Uttar Pradesh is enriched with monuments and memorials that are as varied in their architecture as the dynasties that gave birth to them. While some monuments/shrines are absolutely breathtaking for their massive size, there are innumerable ones that overwhelm you with the sheer detail and intricacy of workmanship they display.
So let’s look in on some of the significant pilgrimage destinations in U.P. through this article-
Allahabad (Prayag Kumbh Mela, Magh Mela)
To meditate, to wash away the sins and to attain the peace of mind- it is for these reasons that Allahabad attracts tourists by the droves. Celebrated as the ‘Tirth Raj’- the king of all pilgrimage centres, Allahabad, also known as Prayag, rests on an inland peninsula of U.P. and is bounded by holy water of river Ganga and Yamuna. The town dates back to the Vedic times as it is said to be the place where Brahma (the Hindu creator of the universe) attended a ritual sacrifice.
This holy land is a terminus for multitudes of people who desire to be a part of Kumbh Mela, a massive congregation of religious pilgrims celebrated once every 12 years. People gather in this spiritual fest to bathe in a sacred river so as to have their ‘sins washed away’.
Also known as mini Kumbh Mela, Magh Mela is another religious fair that is held every year on the banks of Triveni Sangam (the point of confluence of two physical rivers Ganges, Yamuna and the invisible or mythic Saraswati) in Allahabad. It again draws throngs of devotees who seek for salvation and liberation from the cycle of re-birth, obtaining a once in a lifetime experience.
In fact, the strange serenity in its water, the implicit mystic beauty in its lanes, and the surreal spiritualism in the air of Allahabad is a magnet to zillions of pilgrims as well as tourists.
Buddhist Circuit (Comprising Kapilvastu, Kaushambi, Kushinagar, Sankisa, Sarnath, Sravasti)
Whispering to you stories from worlds you did not realize, existed, the Buddhist trails of Uttar Pradesh would emanate a sense of delight in you. The state comprises many of the important Buddhist pilgrimage sites that speak of the momentous aspects of Lord Buddha’s life.
While he spent his childhood in the luxurious environs of Kapilvastu, he passed the larger part of his ascetic life in Shravasti. While he delivered his first sermon in Sarnath, he returned to earth at Sankisa after delivering sermons to his mother and other devas in the Heaven. While he visited Kaushambi several times for spreading the dharma, Lord Buddha attained Mahaparinirvana at Kushinagar. Indeed, from solemn stupas to ancient monasteries, the devotees would explore every bit of Buddha’s life on his sojourn to the sacred trails.
Embark upon a life-changing journey by embracing the divine!
Varanasi (Ganga, Kashi Vishwanath temple)
Snuggled on the banks of the Ganges, around320 kilometers southeast of Lucknow, Varanasi is dotted with numerous temples all across the city. The oldest living city in the world, Varanasi is deemed to be the holiest of the seven sacred cities in Hinduism and Jainism. Passing through its narrow yet spiritual lanes is like passing through an age frozen or warped in time.
Fabled as the’ Spiritual Capital of India’, Varanasi is one of the most pristine cities that proffers eternal bliss and salvation. The mighty Ganges, the enchanting Ghats, the beautiful Kashi Vishwanath Temple, the Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple, the hum of chants, the overwhelming aartis, the amazing rituals and much more make the city divine. A dip in its holy water would purify your soul. Breathing in its pious air would cleanse your spirit. So travel to this age-old sacred town to come across what your soul is searching for.
Indeed, a visit to Varanasi in itself is an experience that is sure to leave you spellbound with its tales of culture, tradition, and history that fill the air.
Sufi Shrines (Dewa Sharif)
Merely 28 kilometers away from the state capital, Lucknow, Dewa Sharif is the mausoleum of a renowned Sufi Saint Haji Waris Ali Shah who is known to have influenced the lives of millions of individuals with his message of universal love for humanity. This Sufi shrine in Brabanki is actually a living testimony to the solidarity and religious harmony in the country as people from distinct communities come here to pay homage to the saint.
On the occasion of the Urs of the revered saint, notably referred to as the Dewa Mela or Barabanki Mela, people from far and wide flock here and participate in this vibrant 10-day carnival. The fair is indeed a part of the intrinsic cultural fabric of our society as well as a continuation of our heritage.
Mathura-Vrindavan (Krishna temples)
If coming to an understanding of yourself is something that appeals to you, step on to the land of Lord Krishna- Mathura (where Krishna was born) &Vrindavan (where Krishna spent his childhood). Said to be among the seven cities considered as holy by Hindus, Mathura is situated approximately 50 kilometers north of Agra and about 11 kilometers from the town of Vrindavan.
Sprinkled with numerous temples proclaiming Lord Krishna in various forms and avatars, the homeland of Krishna (Mathura-Vrindavan) receives floods of pilgrims throughout the year. Spiritual opulence warmly ensconces you as you seek solace in the shrines and temples of the town. In fact, every square foot of Mathura-Vrindavan is wrapped in timeless devotion to Lord Krishna, the eternal hero, the lover of Radha and the cowherd-prince.
Krishna Janmabhoomi Temple, Dwarkadhish Temple, Rangeshwar Temple, Vishram Ghat (Bank of River Yamuna, Iskcon Temple, Prem Mandir, Vrindavan, Baldeo (Dauji Mandir) and many other spots like Kusum Sarovar, Shiv Tal, etc. attract the devotees for their serene ambience.
Immerse yourself in the purity of the heavenly love by touching the holy land of Lord Krishna.
Ayodhya (Ramkot, Hanuman Garhi, Saryu)
The Puranas describe Ayodhya as one of the Holy Spots of Hinduism. The Atharvaveda deems it to be a city built by gods and being as prosperous as paradise itself. Placed on the bank of the river Saryu near Faizabad, the city is one of the most frequented pilgrim destinations because of its historical significance and holy temples.
Hanuman Garhi, Ram Janmabhoomi Temple, Ramkot Citadel, Kanak Bhavan etc. are a few attractions that lure visitors to the hallowed land.
Besides religious importance, the temples here charm the tourists due to their splendid architecture and design as well. In fact, the magnificence of the holy shrines is not only restricted to its external façade, but the deities installed in the sanctum are highly captivating too.
Apart from its association with Ram and Ramayana, Ayodhya has historically been an important pilgrimage centre for the Jains and Buddhists as well. Ramayana has rightly described Ayodhya to be “uniquely the best city.”
Vindhyachal (Vindhyavasini Devi temple)
A Hindu pilgrimage site in Mirzapur District of U.P., with the temple of the famous Goddess Vindhyachal, attracts thousands of visitors. About one and a half hour drive from Varanasi, the temple is one of the most revered Shaktipeeths of the presiding deity, Vindhyavasini Devi.
According to Markandeya Purana, the goddess had incarnated to kill the demon Mahishasura. The Maa Vindhyavasini Devi Temple which is dedicated to Goddess Durga along with Ashtabhuja Devi Temple and kalikhoh Temple constitute the Trikona Parikrama done here.
The place is thronged by several followers during the Navratri of Chaitra and Ashwin months to invoke the blessings of the Goddess.
Thus the divine aura and the sculptural grandeur of the magical land of U.P. have been a magnet for millions of pilgrims for eons.
So, let’s step on for a rendezvous with U.P.’s holy trail and breath in a soulful experience to be cherished forever.