From grand temples and mosques to opulent churches, magnificent gurudwaras and serene monasteries, India is the storehouse of spiritual knowledge. Through the ages from the ancient past, India has amalgamated the wealth of knowledge in form of holy Vedas and scriptures and has emerged as the spiritual lighthouse and home for religion and pilgrimage to the world. It is a melting pot of many cultures and religions. Many of the religions practised in the world such as Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism and Jainism are found in India. Any religion when followed faithfully leads to God. As Ram Mohan Roy said, "Cows are different colours but the colour of their milk is the same". There are many ways in which people connect to the divine. Going to a known sacred place in the form of a pilgrimage is one of the most powerful ways to make this connection. Visitors to sacred places seek to experience the presence of the divine in some way. Images of god, goddesses, saints, angels, gurus, other deities, sacred mountains and other natural formations, religious events and stories are all common in sacred sites to foster that experience. The epitome of marvellous festivals that may hook your soul to linger for longer, India is often considered one of the go-to countries to have a spiritual holiday.

A symbol of cultural identity for the Bengalis, Durga Puja is celebrated with much fanfare and gaiety for four days. One of the major festivals of India, it is particularly popular in West Bengal, Assam, Odisha, Tripura, Jharkhand, and Bihar. During Durga Puja, huge clay idols of the ten-armed Goddess Durga and her four children are worshipped in specially made mandaps. People dress up in new clothes and go pandal-hopping with family and friends. The festival culminates with the immersion of the idol of the goddess in water.

Among all festivals of India, Ganesh Chaturthi or Vinayaka Chaturthi holds a special significance for Hindus. The festival commemorates the birth of the much-loved Hindu deity, Lord Ganesha. Colourful festivities spanning over ten days mark the celebrations. It starts with the installation of artistically crafted Ganesha idols in homes and public mandaps. People worship the deity with much fervour and gaiety. On the tenth day, the idol is immersed in water, which marks the end of the festivities. Ganesh Chaturthi is celebrated all over India, especially in the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Goa, and Chhattisgarh.

This is a great festival held annually at Ajmer, Rajasthan. During Urs of Ajmer Sherif which is usually celebrated in April/May, the Ajmer city turns into a fairyland for six days. It is a great centre for religious, cultural and commercial activity for people from all over India and the world. Fair is the wonderland of saints, fakirs and pilgrims.

The country is filled with many spiritual destinations which should not be missed by anyone looking for the true Indian experience. These are open and welcome to everyone. India is a country that never misses on celebrating with the essence of spirituality and solidarity


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