Sheikh Salim Chisti’s Dargah, Fatehpur Sikri

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Sheikh Salim Chisti's Dargah

Khwaja Salim Chisti (1478-1571) was a Sufi saint and a revered successor of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti (Ajmer Sharif). A popular legend states that Emperor Akbar visited the mystic to pray for a successor and was later blessed with three sons. He named his first son Salim (Jahangir). On Saint’s demise, the Emperor built the city Fatehpur Sikri around the Dargah, as a mark of his devotion. Although the tomb was originally built with red sandstone, it was later converted into a beautiful marble mausoleum in Mughal architecture. Every year, lots of devotees visit the shrine to pray for a child and tie a thread on the Jalli (carved windows). When their wish is fulfilled, they come back to express their gratitude to the Saint.


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Kashi Vishwanath Temple

Kashi Vishwanath Temple stands on the western bank of river Ganga in Varanasi. It is one of the twelve Jyotirlingas and the holiest of Shiva temples. The main deity is known by the name Vishwanatha or Vishweshvara meaning Ruler of The Universe. The Varanasi city is also called Kashi, and hence the temple is popularly called Kashi Vishwanath Temple. It has been destroyed and reconstructed a number of times in the history. The last structure was demolished by Aurangzeb, the sixth Mughal emperor who constructed the Gyanvapi Mosque on its site. The remains of the erstwhile temple can be seen in the foundation, the columns and at the rear part of the mosque. The current structure was built on an adjacent site by the Maratha monarch, Ahilya Bai Holkar of Indore in 1780.


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2600

Venkateswara Temple

Venkateswara Temple (construction going back to 300 AD) is a major pilgrimage destination of Hindus, especially Vaishnavites. It is said that we must visit Adi Varaha Swami temple before visiting Lord Venkateshwara Temple and Sri Padmavathi Ammavari temple after. It’s is dedicated to the Supreme God Narayana / Maha Vishnu, who is believed to have appeared here to save mankind from trials and troubles of Kali Yuga. Hence, the place has also got the name Kaliyuga Vaikuntham and Lord here is referred to as Kaliyuga Prathyaksha Daivam. Temple is located in the hill town of Tirumala, near Tirupati. The Hills (853m above sea level) comprises of seven peaks, representing the seven heads of Adisesha. The seven peaks are called Seshadri, Neeladri, Garudadri, Anjanadri, Vrushabhadri, Narayanadri and Venkatadri. The temple lies on the seventh peak -Venkatadri, on the southern banks of Sri Swami Pushkarini, a holy water tank. Hence the temple is also referred to as “Temple of Seven Hills”. The Temple is constructed in Dravidian architecture follows Vaikhanasa Agama tradition of worship. The Garbagriha(Sanctum Sanctorum) is called Ananda-Nilayam where the presiding deity, is in standing posture and facing east. The temple is one of the eight Vishnu Swayambhu Kshetras and is listed as 106th and the last earthly Divya Desam. The temple is visited by about 50k – 100k pilgrims daily (30-40 mill visitors annually), while on special occasions & festivals, like Brahmotsavam, the number of pilgrims shoots up to 500k, making it the most-visited holy place in the world.


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Tiger's Nest Monastery

Tiger’s Nest (Bhutan) is known by many names like Paro Taktsang, Taktsang Palphug Monastery & Taktshang Goemba. This cliffside glorious monastery situated in the upper Paro Valley is a must visit place for a Spiritual Tourist. Legend has it that in the 8th century Guru Rinpoche(one of the holiest figure in Mahayana Buddhism) flew to this site on a tigress’ back to subdue a local demon. Thereafter, he meditated here for 3 years, 3 months and 3 days. This sacred monastery surrounded by a beautiful forest of blue pine and rhododendrons was built in 1692, around the cave where Guru meditated.


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Taj-ul-Masajid

Taj-ul-Masajid literally means “The Crown of Mosques”, which is truly reflected in the majestic architecture of the mosque. Being one of the largest mosques in Asia, it can hold almost 100,000 worshipers at a time. Construction of this magnificent mosque was initiated by Sultan Shah Jehan Begum(1868-1901) but was completely built only after 1971 with the great efforts of Allama Mohammad Imran Khan Nadwi Azhari of Bhopal. A must-see place for history buffs and spiritual tourists.


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Temple Of Tooth

Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic or Sri Dalada Maligawa is a Buddhist temple. According to Sri Lankan legends, when the Buddha died in 543 BCE, his body was cremated in a sandalwood pyre at Kushinagar and his left canine tooth was retrieved from the funeral pyre by his disciple, Khema. A belief grew that whoever possessed the tooth relic had a divine right to rule that land. The tooth is kept in a gold casket shaped like a dagoba (stupa), which contains a series of six dagoba caskets of diminishing size. Rituals are performed thrice a day. On Wednesdays, there is a symbolic bathing of the relic with an herbal preparation made from scented water and fragrant flowers called Nanumura Mangallaya. This holy water is believed to contain healing powers and is distributed among those present. Visitors must wear clothes that cover their legs, shoulders and must remove your shoes. While there, do visit the World Buddhism Museum situated just behind the main temple.


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Khajuraho Temples

The Khajuraho temples(950-1050 CE) are a group of Hindu & Jain temples in Madhya Pradesh. Out of 85 temples, only about 20 temples have survived. The name Khajuraho, or Kharjuravāhaka, is derived from Sanskrit (kharjura – date palm, vāhaka – ‘carrier’). These temples are famous for their intricately carved nagara-style statues & erotic sculptures. It’s designed as per Hindu vastu-purusha-mandala or grid-geometrical design. The art work symbolically highlight the four goals of life considered necessary and proper in Hinduism – dharma, kama, artha and moksha. Of the surviving temples, 3 are dedicated to Jain Tirthanks, located in SE region. All three ideas from Āgamas are richly expressed in Khajuraho temples – Avyakta, Vyaktavyakta and Vyakta.


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Madurai Meenakshi Temple

Meenakshi Amman Temple is dedicated to Goddess Meenakshi(Parvati) & her consort Lord Sundareswarar(Shiva). It houses 12 Gopurams (pyramidal gates), out of which four tallest ones stand on the outer walls (facing four cardinal directions) and shorter Gopurams lead to sanctums of the main deities. The south gate is the tallest (51 m) and can be climbed to have a view of the entire city. This exquisite Dravidian architectural temple houses around 33,000 sculptures. The ‘Mandapam’ of the temple consists of 985 unique pillars, which were carved out of a single granite stone block. Some of the pillars produce music when tapped. There is an art museum within the premises showcasing the 1200 yr history. During the 10-day annual Meenakshi Tirukalyanam festival(April-May) the temple attracts over 1 million visitors.


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St. Michael's Church

St. Michael’s Church is one of the oldest Franciscan Catholic churches in Mumbai. Built by the Portuguese in 1534, it was rebuilt a number of times; the present structure dating back to 1973. Initially known as San Miguel church, is now popularily known as Mahim Church (due to it’s location). This church is famous for its Novenas on Wednesdays, which is visited by thousands of people.


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Shrine Of Jalaluddin Rumi

Konya was the final home of Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi (1207 – 17 December 1273),who was a 13th-century Persian poet, Islamic scholar and a Sufi mystic. His shrine has become a pilgrimage site over the years. On December 17th, a religious celebration is held for which thousands of pilgrims throng the mausoleum. Adjacent to Rumi’s tomb is that of his father, Baha al-Din Valed, whose sarcophagus stands upright, for legends tell that when Rumi was buried, his father’s tomb “rose and bowed in reverence.” On his sarcophagus, several of his poems are inscribed as well as verses from the Quran.



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