22 Best Pilgrimage Places to Visit in India

Many travelers remain unaware of some absolutely incredible pilgrimage places in India. Spirituality is a large part of every Indian’s daily life. It's been one of the top things that attract people to India from all over the world. People of various religions have been peacefully coexisting in India for a long period of time.

Globetrotting travelers who seek spiritual enlightenment eventually make their way to India. Home to diverse religions, this enchanting land holds the answer to many of their questions. This has given pilgrimage tourism in India a huge boost making pilgrimage places in India highly sought-after.

While there may be no particular most holy place in India there are plenty of religious places that come quite close. Did you know there was a list of some best pilgrimage places in India by UNESCO as well? Let's take a close look at some of the top ones you can visit on your next trip.

From ancient mosques in the north and churches in the northeast to spectacular temples in South India, you will find it all here. You can visit some exceptionally amazing pilgrimage places in India even if making an impromptu business trip on last minute flights.

Check the list of the most popular ones listed here for your convenience. Visit as many of these incredible places of worship in India as you possibly can!

best pilgrimage places to visit in India

Here are the best pilgrimage places to visit in India:

1. Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh

Ayodhya, the temple city, with a sacred site around each corner is best discovered at a leisurely pace. Visit Ram Janmabhoomi, Kanak Bhavan, Nageshwarnath Temple, Treta Ke Thakur, Lakshmana Ghat, Mani Parbat, Hanumangarh.

2. Pahari Mandir, Ranchi

At the top of Tagore Hill, there is a temple dedicated to Shiva. People from different corners of the country gather in the temple to offer their homage to the deity. During the Shravan Mela festival, the place is flooded with Hindu devotees.

3. Jwalamukhi Temple, Kangra

This temple is located in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh. This temple is dedicated to Sati, wife of Shiva. What may leave you in dismay here is the eternal flame that is burning in the premises of the temple for 100 years without any source of fuel. It is believed that Sati killed herself after hearing and mistreated Shiva from her father.

After her death, Vishnu made to split her body into 51 pieces which fell down on the different parts of the earth. It is believed that Sati Devi's Tongue has fallen at this place, where Jwala Ji temple is constructed. Many scientific organizations have come here to research the source of this eternal flame.

4. Golden Temple, Amritsar

The Holy City of Amritsar has only food and good food to offer. Save some money by staying at the gurudwara. For women, the stay is free. Head straight to the golden temple for a blissful time and explore the nearby lanes around Golden Temple for the best street food. Enjoy a mouth-watering plate of Chole Bhature and Lassi for INR 40.

Amritsar is the city of the turbans and where spirituality is breathed in every corner, besides being one of the main cities of the Punjab state. The main attraction of Amritsar is the Golden Temple. It is a little difficult to explain in words the great beauty of this complex and all the environment that surrounds it. The Golden Temple is just one part of a large complex that houses other rooms.

Home to the revered Golden Temple, Amritsar is arguably the holiest places for Sikhs in India and the world. Receiving as many tourists, if not more, as the Taj Mahal, the Golden Temple is a must-visit for any spiritual traveler. This great complex is known as Harmandir Sahib.

The entrance of white marble is large and majestic, and the sight of the gold at the bottom of the entrance arches is incredible. The gigantic kitchen, known as Guru Ka Langar, feeds between 60,000 and 80,000 people each day. Marvel at the temple architecture, learn about its history, take in the serenity in the ambiance, and dine at the temple langar at least once. There are other magnificent temples to visit in Amritsar as well.

In your walk through the city you can go in search of the different temples that you can also visit, such as the Sri Durgiana Temple or the Mata Temple. Five minutes from the Golden Temple is Jallianwala Bagh Park. If you have time you can also go up to the Gobindgarh Fort. Better known as Wagah Border, a rather interesting change of guard ceremony takes place on this border.

5. Veerabhadra Temple, Lepakshi

Lepakshi is a popular tourist destination for tourists coming to visit Warangal city and its surrounding areas. Lepakshi, a place of major historical importance, is now a major tourist destination in the state of Andhra Pradesh for its wonderful architecture and scenic beauty. The Lepakshi Fort houses one of the most important museums in India with rare sculptures of art and architecture from the Buddhist period.

The Lepakshi Temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu and has many artistic carvings in wood, stone, gold etc. This temple has been built in the Vijayanagara style with its lavish interiors and beautiful architecture. The beautiful architecture still holds more than 2000 years old coins of chola empire, Vijayanagar architecture and Krishna Deva Raya period.

Veerabhadra temple located at Andhra Pradesh is also known as Lepakshi Temple. Lepakshi Temple is famous for its architectural beauty. There are 70 Pillars in the temple, but one pillar lies hanging in the premises of the temple is the piece of wonder. To prove that, many people pass a piece of cloth through the bottom of the pillar. The mystery behind how this pillar stays intact without any support remains a million dollar question.

One of the areas most visited by tourists are the ruins and the Lepakshi temple, which is a must for almost everyone who arrives in the city. Lepakshi is a peaceful place and less crowded places near Bangalore. It can be visited in one day from Bangalore. Lepakshi is a small town famous for Virabhadra temple built in 15th century by Vijayanagara kings.

It is a sprawling temple and known for the largest monolith of Nandi and also the Nagalinga. Large number of pilgrims visit the place in Shivaratri and other days of Saivite festival.

6. Shivagange Temple, Dabaspet

The temple is located in Shivagange in Karnataka at a distance of 55 Km from Bangalore. The temple is located in a cave on a small hill which can be climbed easily. Ghee is the product of butter which is obtained by heating butter. Here it is reversed.

7. Haridwar, Uttarakhand

The ancient city of Haridwar has been a major pilgrimage site for centuries. It is located where the sacred River Ganga emerges from the base of the Himalayas and is considered one of the seven holiest cities in India. The city is filled with devotees and pilgrims on a regular basis but especially during the Kumbh Mela, which is held every 12 years.

8. Ramanathaswamy Temple, Rameshwaram

Tamil nadu has blended religion with its culture. Every ruler who ruled the Tamil land has contributed his flesh and blood to enhance the temples and its architecture. Even in the modern days, Tamil nadu is the only region where still mammoth functioning temples are preserved.

Rameswaram is one of the Char Dham located in the Gulf of Mannar, at the tip of the Indian peninsula of Tamil Nadu. Unsurprisingly, Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu tops any list of religious places in India that is most sought-after. A popular pilgrim spot where devout pilgrims come to wash off their sins, the place is revered by people across India as it is associated with many of the events from Indian mythology.

Ramanathaswamy is the famous temple in Rameshwaram. The most important dynasty in the history of the construction of the Ramanathaswamy temple, however, was the Sethupathi dynasty, which reigned over Ramnad and Sivaganga during the seventeenth century.

Gandhamadhana Parvatham and Kothandaramaswamy Temple are among the most popular places of worship to visit here.

9. Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam

The Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple is one of the jewels of India but, despite being one, it is not so well known among travelers who venture to this area of this intense country. It has 21 Gopuram (towers), the highest known as Rajagopuram and that makes the entrance to the temple, is more than 70 meters high, which makes it the tallest temple tower in Asia.

Another of its most impressive towers is the white tower, with more than 40 meters high. Its annual festival of 21 days, called Margazhi, attracts a million people. Fondly called as Bhooloka Vaikuntam by Vaishanvites, the history of the temple dates back to Ramayana era and located in an island formed by the River Cauvery.

Renga Vimanam is believed to be worshipped by the forefathers of Lord Rama and presented to Vibishina as a token of gratitude towards Rama. Raja gopuram of this temple is about 220ft, one of the largest in Asia. This temple is the largest functioning temple spanning about 155 acres with 50 shrines, and 22 gopurams.

Almost 300 days in a year has a festival celebrated in this temple. Mortal remians of the saint Ramanjuar has been mummified and still preserved in this temple complex.

10. Virupaksha Temple, Pattadakal

Pattadakal group of monuments is ideal for heritage tourism in the state. Pattadakal was the place where the Chalukya kings were crowned. The Virupaksha temple is the largest temple in Pattadakal. It was built in the 8th century by Queen Lokamahadevi to commemorate her husband's third victory over the Pallavas of Kanchi.

This temple is the oldest in Pattadakal. It has a Dravidian style. Both the Sangameshwara temple and the Virupaksha temple have the same square plane from the base to the sikhara, or cone-shaped top. The small temple of Chandrashekhara is to the left of the Sangameshvara temple. Mallikarjuna Temple is a small version of the Virupaksha temple.

On the porch of the temple there is a beautiful image of Narasimha. In addition you can find references to the Ramayana, Mahabharatha and representations of the social life of the time. On the outside there are sculptures of Shiva, Nandi or Nataraja among others. Kashivisvanatha Temple was the last one built in the style of the first. It was built by the Rashtrakutas in the 8th century in a Nagara style.

Galaganatha Temple is located north of the Virupaksha temple and faces west. Papanatha temple dates back to the year 680. This temple has similarities with the Navabrahma temples of Alampur in Andhra Pradesh, which were also built by the Chalukyas of Badami. The pillars of the main hall have figures of couples and carved women.

In some parts of the temple you can find couples carved in loving attitudes, and on the outside there are figures of lions, elephants and scenes of the Ramayana. Durga temple in Aihole is another religious places that adds charm to Karnataka.

11. Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangapatna

The most representative temple of Srirangapatna is the Ranganathaswamy Temple. Talakadu is believed to have been under a curse that the once fertile town with more than 30 temples got submerged in sand. It is quite fascinating to see the entire town under beach sand. Of the 30 temples, 5 Shiva temples and a Keerthi Narayana temple has been excavated. ASI has done a wonderful job of excavation and reassembling this temple.

12. Sigandur Chowdeshwari Temple, Shimoga

Agumbe is one of the highest peaks of Western Ghats. To go trekking and stop halfway in the Gopalakrishna Temple, a temple of the fourteenth century that exhibits Hoysala art. Together with Shimoga, you should also visit a small village, Sigandur. Just 63 kilometers from Shimoga, Sigandur is Sigandur Chowdeshwari Temple, which attracts a good number of tourists because of its religious importance.

The hills of Kodachadri rise above the small pilgrimage center of Kollur, presided over by Sri Mookambika Devi.

13. Kodandarama Temple, Chikmagalur

This serene hill station has beautiful monuments like the Kodandarama temple, Veera Narayana temple in Belavadi and Markandeshwara Temple in Khandya that exhibits a beautiful mixture of Hoysala and Dravidian architectural styles.

14. Hasanamba Temple, Belur

Hasanamba Temple is very famous for its mystery. This temple is very unique from other temples. Hasanamba temple is opened once in a year for 10 days. After 10 days the pooja is performed and the doors are closed which is opened again only next year. The mystery is that the oil lamp lit before closing the doors will be burning when the doors are opened.

It is interesting to note that the flowers offered to the Goddess Hasanambe remain fresh when the doors are opened as if they were offered just then.

Belur and Halebidu are two other interesting temple complexes in Karnataka, very different from Hampi and with hardly any infrastructure for tourism. They are separated from each other by 15 km and is about 150 km from Mysore.

15. Chennakeshava Temple, Belur

The main attraction of Belur is the Chennakeshava temple built by King Vishnuvardhana to celebrate the victories over the Chola dynasty in the great battle of Talakad. Built by the Hoysala rulers, Chennakeshavasvami Temple is a magnificent sanctuary dedicated to Vijayanarayana.

The facade of the temple is full of stone carvings of elephants, horses, lions, sensual dances and epic episodes of Indian mythology like the Ramayana, Mahabharata and the Puranas. The Belur temple is located on the banks of the Yagachi River, also called Velapura.

The temple is a ekakuta vimana design, combining elements of the Nagara style architecture of northern India and Dravida style of southern India. Halasuru Someshwara Temple is located on the outskirts of Halasuru also called Ulsoor in Bangalore. Another notable art in the sculptures are Mount Kailash of Ravana and Durga killing Mahishasura.

16. Hoysaleswara Temple, Halebidu

Halebidu was the capital of the Hoysalas in the 12th century and is a small temple but with very elaborate stone sculptures. The Hoysaleswara temple stands out for the thousands of figures carved in the stone, all of them different, representing mythology, dancers, birds and all kinds of animals. The second temple is called Kedareshwara, and the two are located in front of a large lake, from which the city takes its name.

17. Omkareshwar Temple, Indore

Madhya Pradesh has a number of important pilgrimage centers. Indore is the most important city in the region, where you can visit visit Lal Bagh Palace, Rajwada and Kanch mandir or crystal temple. Ujjain, Mandu and Omkareshwar popularly is known as Golden Triangle. This spectrum covers the medieval ruins, forts, tiger reserves, cultural gems roaring waterfalls.

Omkareshwar is an OM shaped island at the confluence of Narmada and Kaveri. Omkareshwar, an island in the Narmada River, is said to appear like the symbol of “Om” when viewed from the top. It is popular with travellers as a place to relax.

While Ujjain and Omkareshwar have a special meaning because of the sanctuaries that two of the twelve jyotirlingas, Maheshwar, Mandleshwar, Amarkantak, Hoshangabad are also important in their own right. The abandoned city of Mandu or Mandavgad was once home to lavish home of Mughals. The city is surrounded by stonewalls dotted with darwazas (gateways). Don’t miss to visit Jahaz Mahal when in Mandu.

Located on the banks of the holy Narmada River in an OM shaped island known as Mamleshwar, Omkareshwar is one of the most important Lord Shiva Jyotirlingas in India. There are several legends and myths claiming the temple to be extremely important in Hindu culture and a major part of the ’12 Jyotirlinga Yatra’.

The town itself exudes immense positivity and spirituality combined with incredible sculptures and art forms which all creates an incredibly beautiful aura where peace meets spirituality and deep-seated religious beliefs.

18. Murudeshwar Temple, Bhatkal

The 20 storey high Gopura (249 feet) is the first thing you will see when you visit this place. It has a has lift to take you to the top for the amazing experience. The view of the Shiva statue opposite on the coast and the beaches on the other sides is a treat! Its famous for its gigantic Shiva statue which is the second tallest in the world! Standing 123 feet high on the coast of Arabian sea is something not to be missed.

Keep aside half a day for this. Make note of the Murudeshwar temple timings before visiting otherwise you will need to wait and the queue gets longer. So prepare in advance. Also there is a restaurant if you feel hungry just on the side of temple. Its built a little inside the coast which gives a wonderful sea view feel. Do note the waiting time is top and you may have wait long to get a place.

Interesting Reads: Best Places to Visit in Karnataka

19. Gondeshwar Temple, Sinnar

Gondeshwar Temple in Maharashtra is made up of the classical Hemapanti styled architecture. These shrines were not merely religious sanctums. But they were also pivotal centers for sharing knowledge & research on regional history, sociology, good governance and tradition.

20. Vaishno Devi Mandir, Katra

On the Trikuta hills, about 13 kms near the Katra village which is about 50 kms from Jammu, is the famous cave temple of Mata Vaishno Devi. It is one of the oldest of all temples in India.

21. Ramappa Temple, Telangana

About 900 years ago, when the Kakatiyan kings ruled the Palampet area of Warangal, they commissioned the construction of the awe-inspiring Ramappa temple. This medieval architectural wonder is a shrine surrounded by a cluster of small temples in honour of Shiva (Ramalingeshwara) and other deities.

Marco Polo, the Italian Merchant, during his visit to the Kakatiya Empire, called the temple the brightest star in the galaxy of temples. Ramappa Temple stands majestically on a 6 feet high star-shaped platform. The hall in front of the sanctum has numerous carved pillars that have been positioned to create an effect that combines light and space wonderfully.

A remarkable fact about this temple is that it is made of bricks that can float on water! They were made using such unique technology that made them floatable. The material used to make the brick spongy was apparently saw-dust.

The main structure is in a reddish sandstone, but the columns round the outside have large brackets of black granite. These are carved as mythical animals or female dancers or musicians, and are the masterpieces of Kakatiya art, notable for their delicate carving, sensuous postures and elongated bodies and heads.

Another smart move employed during the construction of the temple was the use of sandbox technology that involved adding sand to the foundation pits so that it acts as a cushion to protect the temple in the event of earthquakes. Among the amazing carvings include a flute at the entrance of sanctum sanctorum which when hit make the sound sa-re-ga-ma.

The pillars within the temple boast of such fine carvings that one could pass a strand of hair through. The temple remained intact even after repeated wars, plunder and destruction during wars and natural disasters. Many of the smaller structures were neglected and are in ruins.

22. Venkateswara Temple, Tirumala

Tirupati Balaji Temple, located in Andhra Pradesh, is a famous temple of India. Famous as Sri Venkateswara Temple, this temple is a sacred place for people who believe in Hinduism; hence lakhs of devotees come here every year. This temple of Tirupati is located in the Chittoor district of the state of Andhra Pradesh. Apart from this, the temple here is considered to be one of the wealthiest temples in India.

Tirumala and Tirupati receive millions of visitors every day. The temple of Venkateswara, on the hill of Tirumala, is one of the most important places of worship in India. There are another eleven in different states of India, among which include Puttaparthi.

Saving the best for last! In Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh, the Divya darshan tickets is provided to pilgrims who walk from Alipiri or srivarimetlu. Sarva Darshanam is mainly known as free darshanam. Two options are provided with token or without token. Time for darshan is more for Sarva Darshanam. If you are planning along with family avoid weekends and try for Tuesday or Wednesday. These days have minimum pilgrims compared to normal days.

Try to stick to right hand side to see Venkateswara for more time. If you are planning to go to Tirumala by steps avoid luggage. You can deposit luggage at Alipiri and same will be given to you once you reach Tirumala. Don't loose your Divya Darshan special Darshan tokens. Carry your own carry bags for laddus. Try to avoid steps on weekends. Crowd will be more.

Try to eat fruits. Normal breakfast is not good. If you don't get accommodation you can try to get lockers in Madhavam Complex. You can keep your luggage and go for the darshan. Free food is provided to pilgrims in multiple places. If you have free time you can visit some beautiful places near Tirumala like Akasha Ganga, Sri Venugopala Swamy temple, Papavinasam.

With so many incredible pilgrimage places in India, plan a visit at the earliest possible. Find some cheap flights to India real quick and make your way here pronto! See some of the most stunning places of worship in India and have your most serene trip yet. Visiting these fantastic pilgrimage places in India will leave you with some memorable moments for sure.

Kalyan Panja