In the holy scripts of Hindus, there are seven sacred cities called as Sapta Puri, which you must visit to attain Moksh. So, plan your holidays to these divine cities of India and indulge into the serenity of these places.
Ayodhya is the city where Lord Ram was born. He is said to be the seventh incarnation of Lord Vishnu. It is the holiest city in India. Ayodhya is located about 6 km from Faizabad on the bank of the Sarayu River. This city is believed to be 9,000 years old and was the capital of the prosperous kingdom of Raja Dashrath.
How to Reach
Ayodhya does not have an airport, you have to go to either Chaudhary Charan Singh Airport in Amausi in Lucknow, which is at a distance of 134 km, or Bamrauli Airport in Prayagraj which is approximately 166 km away.
Ayodhya connects the town to places like Prayagraj, Bahraich, Gonda, Gorakhpur, Jaunpur, Kanpur, Lucknow, New Delhi and Varanasi. It receives trains like Kolkata Jammu Tawi Express, Ganga Satluj Express. Doon Express, Sadhbhavana Express, Kaifiyat Express, Farakka Express and many more.
The city is connected to other cities& towns of Uttar Pradesh by an excellent road network and Uttar Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (UPSRTC) buses.
UPSRTC Bus Stand, Ayodhya, (+91-5278-222964)
Places to Visit
Timings: (Summer- 6.30 am to 10.30 am and 3.00 pm to 6.00 pm, Winter- 7.30 am to 10.30 am and 2.00 pm to 5.00 pm).
Ramkot is the main place of worship in Ayodhya, and the site of the ancient citadel of its namesake, standing on elevated ground in the western city. Although visited by pilgrims throughout the year, it attracts devotees from all over the world on “Ram Navami”, the day of the birth of Rama. It is Situated on a high ground and replete with temples and shrines, it is one of the major attractions in Ayodhya.
Hanuman Garhi is a 10th century temple of Hanuman in Uttar Pradesh, India. Located in Ayodhya, it is one of the most important temples in the city along with other temples such as Nageshwar Nath and the in-construction Ram Temple.
- Temple Timings : 5.00 AM and 10.00 PM.
- entry: free
3. Ram ki paidi
A series of ghats installed on the banks of the Saryu River which serves as a platform for the faithful who come here to wash away their sins. It also has green gardens surrounded by temples. The edge of the river offers an exceptional panorama especially at night illuminated. These serve as platforms for the faithful who, it is believed, come to wash away their sins by bathing in the sacred river. Saryu provides a regular supply of water for the ghats and is maintained by the Irrigation Department of the Government of Uttar Pradesh.
- Entry : free
- Timings: everytime
4. Shri Nageshwarnath Temple
It is located in Ram-ki-Pairi, Nageshwarnath Temple is a main attraction in Ayodhya. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and its sanctum sanctorum houses one of the 12 jyotirlingas (a devotional representation of Lord Shiva) in India. The temple is believed to have been built by Lord Rama’s youngest son, Kush. Legend has it that when Kush lost his armband, while swimming in the Saryu River, he was found by a nag-kanya, who fell in love with him. Kush had a Shiva temple built for the nag-kanya, who was a devotee of Lord Shiva.
- Entry: free
- Timings: All days of the week, 5:00 AM – 9:00 PM
Where to Stay:
Near Ram Katha Museum Ayodhya
(+91 5278-232110, 9721691096)
Sri Ram Hotel
Near Dant Dhawan Kund, Ayodhya
Rahi Toursit Bungalow (UPSTDC)
Near Railway Station, Ayodhya
Rahi Yatri Niwas (UPSTDC)
Saryu Tat, Near Ramkatha Park, Distt. Ayodhya,
Haridwar is an ancient city and an important Hindu pilgrimage site in the state of Uttarakhand, in northern India, where the Ganges leaves the foothills of the Himalayas. The largest of several sacred ghats (bathing steps), Har Ki Pauri hosts a Ganga Aarti (river worship ceremony) evening in which tiny twinkling lamps float on the steps. Worshipers fill the city at major festivals, including the annual Kanwar Mela.
How To Reach
Jolly Grant Airport in Dehradun serves as the nearest airport to Haridwar. Visitors can take a direct flight to Dehradun from Mumbai or Delhi or connecting flights from anywhere in India. Local vehicles can be availed from outside the airport to reach Haridwar by road from Dehradun.
Place To See
1. Ganga Aarti
Haridwar is famous for Har ki Pauri and it is Ganga Aarti. Ganga aarti means cult of Ganga. Many people visit this place for Ganga aarti every day from 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. (daily). The priest holds large fire bowls in his hands, the bells of the Ghat temples begin to ring and chants of mantras flow through the air. People float diyas, with flowers on Ganga. The shadow reflects off the river and the lighting of the diyas on the flowing Ganga is so beautiful that it cannot be expressed in words. It is a very fascinating experience to participate in the Ganga Aarati played in the evening at Har Ki Pauri.
2. Mansa Devi Temple
Mansa Devi Temple is situated on the Bilwa Parwat. It has two impressive statues of Goddess Mansa Devi – one with three mouths and five arms and the other with eight arms. Goddess Mansa is believed to be a form of Goddess Shakti, who came from the mind of sage Kashyap. This temple is among the 51 shaktipeethas (devotional shrines where the severed body parts of Goddess Sati fell) in the country. One can go via the ropeway in a trolley to this temple or simply trek up the hill. It is said that the goddess grants all wishes that are made by tying a thread on the branches of a holy tree in the temple. One must also come back to untie the thread once the wish has been fulfilled.
Located in the foothills of the Himalayas along the convergence of the Ganga and the Chandrabhaga River, Rishikesh is a small town in Dehradun District, located near Haridwar in Uttarakhand. Rishikesh (also known as Hrishikesh) is known for its adventure activities, ancient temples, popular cafes and as the ‘Yoga Capital of the World’. Gateway to Garhwal Himalayas, Rishikesh is also a city of pilgrimage and one of the most sacred places for Hindus.
Things to do:
- River Rafting along the Ganges is one of the most popular things to do in Rishikesh.
- The Lakshman Jhula is a famous hanging bridge across the river Ganga connecting Tapovan in the Tehri Garhwal and Jonk in the Pauri Garhwal. It is a famous landmark of Rishikesh.
- Triveni Ghat is a confluence of three holy rivers of India – Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswati. One of the biggest and most famous ghats in Rishikesh, it is also one of the most revered sacred bathing spots.
- Cliff Jumping is a popular adventure activity in Rishikesh. It primarily involves jumping from a 30-40ft high cliff in icy cold water. The most well-known cliff jumping site in Rishikesh is the lower part of Brahmapuri Stretch.
Where to stay:
- Haveli Hari Ganga hotel: From about 8,500 rupees per night, including tax and buffet breakfast.
- Hotel Haveli Ganga: From about 7,500 rupees per night, including tax and breakfast.
- Hotel Teerth: From 2,800 rupees for a double room, including tax. Family suites cost about 4,500 rupees per night, including tax.
Mathura is the birthplace of the very beloved Lord Krishna. Located in the state of Uttar Pradesh. Mathura is a small town dotted with temples of different ages and attracts a horde of pilgrims from all over the world. One side of Mathura stretches over the Yamuna River, lined with 25 ghats, which are best visited at dawn when you can see locals and tourists taking a holy dip, and at dawn (just after sunset. sun) when hundreds of diyas float during the daily aarti.
Best Time to go: Oct-Mar
Place Where To Visit:
1. Govardhan Hill
Govardhan Hill or Giri Raj is located 22 km from Vrindavan. It has been stated in the Holy Bhagwat Gita that according to Lord Krishna, Govardhan Parvat is no different from him. Therefore, all of his worshipers worship the pure rocks of the hill as they worship his idol. The hill is made of sandstone and is 80 feet high with a circumference of 38 km.
Timings: 7 a.m to 7 p.m.
2. Dwarkadhish Temple
Dwarkadhish Temple, billed as one of Mathura’s holiest temples, is famous across the country for its elaborate architecture and paintings. Built in 1814, the temple is relatively new but is highly revered. The temple is dedicated to Lord Dwarkadheesh.
Timings: 6:30 am in the morning to 1 pm in the afternoon and from 5 pm in the evening till 9:30 pm at night.
3. Rangji Temple
It is located on Vrindavan – Mathura Marg, is dedicated to Lord Sri Goda Ranagamannar – a Saint Vaishnava from South India and Lord Ranganatha – an incarnation of Lord Krishna. The highlight of the temple is the idol of Krishna present in the form of a bridegroom with Goda (Andal) as his bride.
Timings: 24 hours open and entry free.
4. Radha Vallabh Mandir
Located near Gotam Nagar on the cliff near Bankey Bihari Temple is the Radha Vallabh Mandir, one of the Seven Temples of Thakur of Vrindavan. This temple is the epitome of the sacred and divine love of Radha and Krishna, displayed in the rarest form “Ras-bhakti”. Listed by Lord Krishna, the temple has no deity of Radha.
Timings: 5:00 am – 12:00 pm, 6:00 pm – 9:00 pm and entry free.
5. Vaishno Devi Dham
Vaishno Devi Dham in Mathura, popularly known as Ma Vaishno Devi Mandir is dedicated to Ma Vaishno Devi who is believed to grant boons to her devotees. Established by Shri J C. Chaudhry, the temple is visited by pilgrims to worship the magnificent idol of Ma Vaishno Devi alongside serving the poor.
Timings: 5:00 AM – 12:00 PM, 4:00 PM – 9:00 PM and entry free.
How to reach
The nearest airport to Mathura is Agra Airport which is 50 km away while the main international airport near Mathura is Indira Gandhi International Airport which is approximately 147 km away. Mathura is connected to Delhi by the Noida-Agra highway. Mathura Station is connected to major cities in India by regular trains. Mathura can also be reached by bus from nearby cities like Agra, Faizabad, Allahabad, Lucknow, Varanasi and even Delhi.
Varanasi is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, with settlements dating back to the 11th century BC. Many Hindus believe that dying in Varanasi brings salvation/nirvana and so they make the trip to the city when they realise that they are close to death. For some, the culture shock of the burning corpses in plain view and the feces overflowing from the Ganges can be a bit overwhelming. However, the scene of pilgrims doing their devotions in the River Ganga at sunrise set against the backdrop of the centuries old temples is probably one of the most impressive sights in the world.
Best Time To Visit: october to march
Places to visit
- Panchganga Ghat. the meeting of the five rivers.
- Manikarnika Ghat. the main cremation ghat; a must-see, but remain quiet and never take photographs.
- Dasaswamedh Ghat. known as the ‘main’ ghat, this is the site of the large evening aarti ceremony. The ceremony starts right after the sunset and lasts for around 45 minutes.
- Rana Ghat. The ghat is on the banks of Ganga which helps people to do religious ceremony without any difficulty.
- Kedar Ghat. brightly painted in stripes and busy with bathers, very photogenic.
- Narad Ghat. the ghat on which bathing with spouse is not advised because the myth of contention.
- Harishchandra Ghat. the cremation place where Raja Harishchandra did the last rituals of his son.
- Bharat Mata Temple. The Bharat Mata temple at Varanasi is the only temple dedicated to Mother India. It is located in the Mahatma Gandhi Kashi Vidyapeeth campus. The Bharat Mata temple was built by Babu Shiv Prasad Gupt and inaugurated by Mahatma Gandhi in 1936.
- Gauri Matha Temple. The devi at this temple is supposed to be the sister of the lord Kashi Vishwanath.
- Tulsi Manas Temple. Located near very popular Durga temple, this marvelous temple is dedicated to lord Rama. Tulsi Manas temple was established during 1964 in the form of white marble structure.
After leaving Mathura, Lord Krishna established his kingdom in Dwarka on the banks of the Gomti River. Legend has it that after Lord Krishna’s death, the city of Dwarka submerged under the sea. It is said that the city was rebuilt six times and the present city is the seventh. The town’s original temples were destroyed in 1372 by the Delhi emperors, but the most important of them, Jagat Mandir, subsequently was rebuilt. The five-story sandstone edifice is supported by 60 pillars and is visited by thousands of pilgrims annually. The modern city of Dwarka, which in Sanskrit means ‘Gateway to heaven’, is located north-west of the state.
Places to visit
1. Dwarkadhish Temple
Dwarkadhish literally means King of Dwarka. Ancient Dwarka is believed to have been Shri Krishna’s kingdom and the Dwarkadhish temple is dedicated to Lord Krishna, who is worshiped in the form of Dwarkadhish here. It is part of the char dham pilgrimage that is considered sacred for Hindus. There is a flag atop the temple which indicates that Krishna will continue to reside at the temple till the moon and the stars continue to exist. The temple is located by the Gomti river.
Timings: 6:30 am in the morning to 1 pm in the afternoon and from 5 pm in the evening till 9:30 pm at night.
2. Nageshwar Jyotirlinga Temple
It is located between Gomti Dwarka and Beyt Dwarka Island. The Shivlinga in the temple faces south. The giant statue of Lord Shiva is another attraction of the temple.
Timings: 7 am to 9 pm
3. Gomti Sangam Ghat
The point where Gomti River merges with the ocean is called Gomit Sangam. Gomati Sangam Ghat is the sacred place where Gomati River flows. This ghat can be reached by climbing down 56 steps from the Swarga Dwar of the Dwarkadish Temple. The Gomati River, which is also known as the descended Ganges, meets the sea at the Chakratirtha Ghat.
Timings: 24 hours open
Ujjain is one of the holiest cities in India, is an ancient city located on the eastern bank of the Shipra River in the Malwa region of Madhya Pradesh. Ujjain is one of the four sites of the Kumbh Mela, the largest peacetime gathering on the planet that draws 100 million people to the festival. This makes Ujjain an important place of Hindu pilgrimage. To add to this, it is also home to the Mahakaleshwar Jyotirlinga, one of the twelve Jyotirlinga shrines of the god Shiva. Ujjain is one of the most glorious cities in ancient India as it was also known to be the educational center of various Indian scholars.
How to reach
Ujjain is well connected with rest of India by road and rail, but there is no airport in the city. The closest airport is in Indore and the distance between Indore and Ujjain is 52 km. Ujjain has direct trains for all the major cities of India, though some are very inconvenient and it’s better to break journey from Bhopal.
Places to visit
1. Bade Ganeshji Ka Mandir
This temple above the reservoir near the Mahakaleshwar temple, houses a huge artistic sculpture of Ganesh, the son of Shiva. An idol of this size and beauty is rarely found. The middle of the temple is decorated with an idol of the pancha-mukhi Hanuman.
The presiding deity of time, Shiva, in all his splendour reigns eternal in Ujjain. The temple of Mahakaleshwar, its shikhara soaring into the skies, evokes primordial awe and reverence with its majesty. The Mahakal dominates the life of the city and its people, even in the midst of the busy routine of modern preoccupations, and provides an unbreakable link with past traditions.
Timings: 4:00 AM – 11:00 PM
3. Harsiddhi Temple
This temple occupies a special place in the galaxy of ancient sacred spots of Ujjain. Seated between the idols of Mahalaxmi and Mahasaraswati, the idol of Annapurna is painted in dark vermilion colour. The Sri Yantra, the symbol of power or shakti, is also enshrined in the temple. According to the Shiva Purana, when Shiva carried away the burning body of Sati from the sacrificial fire, her elbow dropped at this place.
Timings: 6 AM to 12 PM | 5 PM to 10 PM
4. Chintaman Ganesh temple
Built across the Shipra on the Fatehabad railway line. The Ganesh idol enshrined here is supposed to be swayambhu – born of itself. The temple is believed to be of considerable antiquity. Riddhi and Siddhi, the consorts of Ganesha, are seated on either side of Ganesha.
Timings: 5 a.m to 10 p.m.
Kanchi, is a small town in Tamil Nadu. One of the most important spiritual centers in Hinduism and a major pilgrimage destination; Kanchipuram has several medieval temples with spectacular architecture. It was the capital of the kingdom of Pallava from the 4th to the 10th century, and was a center of learning for all the major religions of South India. Hindu temples are still present and used today, and there are archaeological remains of Jain temples. Unfortunately, although Kanchipuram was reputed to be the center of Buddhism in southern India and was visited by Chinese Buddhist monks, there is no vestige of the Buddhist presence today.
How to reach
Kanchipuram has a railway station, and is well served by trains. The Tamil Nadu state government operated transport corporation runs buses from Kanchipuram to most major towns in Tamil Nadu. Buses from Chennai leave for Kanchipuram every fifteen minutes from the Koyambedu interstate bus terminal. There is also an air-conditioned bus service numbered Z576 from 5AM to 6PM, which departs from the T-Nagar bus terminal every hour. It reaches Chennai from Kanchipuram in nearly 2 hrs.
Places to visit
- Varadaraja Perumal Temple: The gopuram of this temple, is particularly impressive when viewed across the lush green fields from the road leading from Kanchi.
- Kailasanathar Temple: must see high point in architecture.The architecture of this temple is more alike that of Mahabalipuram temple.
- Kanchi Kudil: The ancient culture and scultural heritage of Hinduism is proclaimed in a small house, open to visitors.
- Kachapeshwarar Temple
- Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam Sri Sankara Matam.
- International Library: situated in Enathur, 3.5 KM from kanchipuram town, this library contains a treasure of ancient manuscripts written on Palm Leaves. Infront of the library is a 60 ft high statue of Adi Shankaracharya. The library is a part of the Kanchipuram Shankara University.
- Ekambeshwarar Temple: It is situated in Northwest of town. The highest, largest and most impressive temple in town, spanning 40 acres and dating back to the Pallava period. Represents the earth form of the five form-element abodes of Lord Shiva. Featuring huge quantities of carved stonework, it is one of the most important Shiva temples.
Agents For Seven Sacred Cities Of India