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RELIGIOUS TOURISM 

India is a land of pilgrimage. Travel for religious purposes has been there from the most ancient times. Practically, all religions – Hindu, Buddhism, Jainism and Sikhism have their major and minor pilgrimage enters in different parts of the country. There are also centers of Sufism, churches and mosques that are visited by people. In fact, to a majority of domestic tourists in India pilgrimage has always been the main motivation. In our country all major temples, shrines and sacred spots are found scattered all along major riverbanks or in the hills. The confluence of holy rivers called “Sangam”, attract millions of tourists every year when pilgrims assemble there to take holy dip in these rivers. For example on the day of “Sankranti” a bath in holy Ganga water is believed to relieve The Indian pilgrims travel to the holy temples, the Indian holy space called “Teerth” which contain the meaning of “to cross”. It is a clear indication that in Indian holy space something is being crossed over. Within the holy space human beings are given the chance to transcend themselves when they come face to face, in contemplation, with the divinity.

The religious tourism is a mixture of both ancient and modern cultures, i.e., from the exodus of the past to the present day where religious tourism has become a mainstay of tourism. India is a country abounding in not only Hindu shrines but she also represents manifestations of elevating and inspiring works of Jain Tirthankars at Sravasti, Kaushambi, Hastinapur, Parasnath hills, Rajgiris, Khandgiri, Udaigiri, Khajuraho and Dilwara Temples at Mount Abu. Islami (Sufis) shrines as centers of religious influence at Ajmer (Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti), Gulbarga (Khwaja Bande Nawaj); Faridkot; Delhi (Sheikh Nizammudin Aulia); and Panipat (Shah Sharaf Bin Ali). Sikh religion though believed that real pilgrimage is inward yet their sacred shrines are located at Garhwal (Hemkund Sahib); Amritsar (Golden Temple); Taran Taaran (Anandpur Sahib), Kartarpur and Patna Sahib; Churches in Goa. At many of these centers festivals and fairs are also held.

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