Kashmir Pilgrimmage Tourism


Pilgrimages of Kashmir are as famous as its picturesque natural beauty. The valley abounds in pilgrim sites, both within as well as nearby. There are a number of Hindu, Muslim and Buddhist holy places in Kashmir, dotting the landscape. These temples, mosques and Buddhist gomphas attract numerous tourists to the valley. Along with being spiritual and meditation centers, the pilgrim destinations of Kashmir are also a treat to the eyes. A look at the shrines, located amongst beautiful and scenic surroundings, is enough to leave you spellbound & speechless.


Kashmir pilgrimage tour includes visits to a number of ancient temples, shrines and monasteries. The best point about the pilgrimages of Kashmir is that they reflect the peaceful co-existence of various religions in the state. A number of famous Hindu temples exist along with equally renowned Muslim shrines. And the best part is that these shrines are visited by people of every religion. The living proof of this harmony is the Hari Parbat pilgrim center. Here, a temple (Hindu), a mosque (Muslim) and a gurudwara (Sikh) are standing side by side. Some of the famous holy places in Kashmir are: Amarnath, Charar-e-sharif, Hazratbal Mosque, Jama Masjid, Kheer Bhavani, Khanqah-e-Moula, Martand Sun Temple, Shankaracharya Temple, Shiv Khori, Vaishno Devi, Awantipura, Chatti Padshahi, Makhdoom Sahib, Sharika Devi Temple etc.

 

Amarnath Yatra

Amarnath Yatra in India is dedicated to Lord Shiva, one of the Trinity gods. The Amarnath shrine is located approximately 145 km from Srinagar, 4,175 m above sea level. The path leading to the holy cave of Amarnathji is inaccessible in the winters.

 

Charar-e-sharif

Charar-i-sharif counts amongst the most sacrosanct Muslim shrines in India. It is situated approximately 40 km from Srinagar, enroute to Yusmarg near POK (Pakistan Occupied Kashmir). A wooden shrine, the Charar-i-sharif is approximately 600 years old.

 

Hazratbal Mosque

The Hazratbal mosque is situated in Srinagar district, on the western banks of the picturesque Dal Lake. Facing the beautiful Nishat Bagh, the mosque offers a spectacular view of the lake and the mountain afar.

 

Jama Masjid Srinagar

The Jama Masjid of Srinagar is situated at Nowhatta, in the middle of the old city. An important mosque in Srinagar, it was built by Sultan Sikandar in 1400 AD. Later, the son of Sultan Sikandar, Zain-ul-Abidin got the mosque extended.

 

Kheer Bhavani Temple

The Kheer Bhavani temple is situated at Tullamula in the Srinagar district. Steams and Chinar trees surround the place where the temple stands. A revered Hindu shrine, the Kheer Bhavani temple is devoted to Ragnya Devi, a Hindu Goddess.

 

Khanqah-e-Moula

Khanqah-e-Moula is situated in Srinagar, on the banks of the river Jhelum. One of the oldest Muslim shrines in Kashmir, the khanqah was built by Sultan Sikander built in 1395.

 

Martand Sun Temple

The Martand Sun temple is situated on top of a plateau, near the town of Anantnag. It is a medieval temple dedicated to Bhaskar, the Sun God. King Lalitaditya, a Kshatriya of Surya (Solar) dynasty, got the Martand Sun temple constructed to commemorate Surya.

 

Shankaracharya Temple

The Shankaracharya temple is situated in the Srinagar district on the hill known as Takht-e-Suleiman. It is housed at a height of 1100 ft. above surface level of the main city on the hill.

 

Shiv Khori

Shiv Khori is an astonishing natural cave in a hillock in the Reasi tehsil. Situated 100 km from Jammu, this wonderful cave stretches on for approximately one km.

 

Mata Vaishno Devi

Mata Vaishno Devi shrine is located near the Katra district at a height of 5200 ft. The Devi resides inside a cave on Trikuta, a three-peaked mountain. After reaching Katra, one has to undertake a trek of approximately 12 km to reach the cave of Mata Vaishno Devi.

 

Ladakh Pilgrimage

Buddhist Pilgrimage in Ladakh


Buddhism, especially the Trans-Himalayan Buddhism from Tibet is the very essence of living in Ladakh . Partly because of the royal patronage, the central part of Ladakh has the greatest concentration of major Gompas or monasteries. Monasteries of Phiyang, Hemis and Chemrey belong to the Namgyal dynasty period and are a major attraction during their monastic festivals. The reformist group monasteries are also well represented in central Ladakh by Thikse, Likkir, Rhidzong and Spituk. Buddhist study centers have been set up at both Leh and Choglamsar. Summer meditation sessions are held at the Mahabodhi Meditation Center on Changspa Lane.

It is mainly along the course of this valley system that the region's 10,000 strong, mainly Buddhists population lives. Spread over an estimated geographical area of 5000 sq. kms, High rise, mountains and deep gorges surround Zanskar. The area remains inaccessible for nearly 8 months a year due to heavy snowfall resulting in closure of all the access passes, including the Penzi-la. To-day, Zanskar has the distinction of being the least interfered with microcosms of Ladakh, and one of the last few surviving cultural satellites of Tibet. Within the mountain ramparts of this lost Shangrila stand a number of ancient yet active monastic establishments. Some of these religious foundations have evolved around remote meditation caves believed to have been used by a succession of famous Buddhist saints for prolonged meditation in pursuit of knowledge and enlightenment.

 

Padum


Once the capital of the ancient kingdom of Zanskar, Padum (3505 m) is the present day administrative headquarters of the region. With a population of nearly 1500, Padum can be described as the most populous settlement of Zanskar. Incidentally, it is only in Padum that there is a community of Muslims constituting nearly half the township's population. Lately, Padum has become famous as a major trekking base and a popular tourist destination. Several places of tourist interest in the vicinity of the township can be visited in the course of entertaining walks. The nearest monument is a set of ancient rock carving on a huge boulder near the river bank, just below the old township. These dates back to the 8th century and provide epigraphic evidence that the region was under the influence of North Indian Buddhism since ancient times. The Starrimo Monastery with about 30 resident monks clings to a tree-covered ridge above the old town. Across the expanse of cultivation lies the old village of Pibiting, dominated by its picturesque hilltop monastery, a superb manifestation of stupa architecture.

 

Stongdey


The monastery of Stongdey lies 18 kms. To the north of Padum, on the road leading to Zangla. An old foundation associated with the Tibetan Yogi, Marpa, Stongdey is now the second largest monastic establishment of Zanskar, inhabited by the resident community of about 60 Gelukpa monks. The sprawling whitewashed complex has a number of temples, each a repository of the region's rich monastic legacy. Stongdey can be reached by foot in about 4 hours along the recently laid rough road. The climb up to the monastery is rather strenuous, but it is worth the trouble for the breathtaking scenery of the valley available from here.

Zangla


Lying deep in the northern arm of Zanskar at the end of the 35 km long rough road from Padum, Zangla was being ruled by a titular king till his death a few years back. The old castle now in ruins except from a small chappel, occupies a hill, overlooking the desert valley below. Nearby is the old Nunnery worth a visit for the austere life style of the small monastic community of nuns. An old monastery situated in the nearby village of Tsa-zar has exquisite frescos that should be missed. The village lies mid-way between Stongdey and Zangla. Zangla is the nodal point on the popular Padum-Strongdey-Zangla-Karsha-Padum round trip, which covers most of the cultural sites of Zanskar. The old rope suspension bridge spanning the tumultuous Zanskar near Zangla- a rare feat of folk engineering - is no more in use, but still visible. The river is now crossed by a temporary footbridge for approaching the left bank along which the trail to Karsha follows. Zangla is also the take-off point for the Padum-Markha valley treks.

 

Sani


Lying 6 km west of Padum, on the road to Kargil, the chief attraction of this picturesque village is the castle like monastery which is unique in its own kind. It is built on a level ground unlike other monasteries of the region.

As the legend goes, it's initial foundation is associated with Kanishka on account of the Kanika stupa which stands in the backyard of the walled complex. The main building comprises a huge multi-columned central prayer hall, housing an array of statues of popular Buddhists divinities and Drugpa (old schools) high saints. The most interesting frescoes, however, can be seen in a small, almost discarded chapel at the back of the main building, whose walls are adorned with stucco murals depicting landscapes and floral designs based on the life of Padma-sambhava. Adjoining this monastic complex is an old cemetery surrounded by a ring of ancient rock carvings which reflect Indian artistic influence.

 

Sani


Sani is also associated with Naropa, the famous Indian yogi from Vikramsila, who is said to have sat in meditation for some time under the Kanika stupa. The site is now occupied by a small room housing a veiled bronze figure of the yogi, which is unveiled, once a year in late July. A two-day long festival is held to celebrate this occasion, which is attended by people from far and wide. Monks from Bardan monastery perform masked dances as ritual offering.

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