The World's Most Popular and Sacred Seven Pilgrimage Centers
Pilgrimage contributes to a good share of travel activities. People who don't believe in God or worship too visit pilgrimage centers. For the sheer pleasure of exploring something new, these people too visit the pilgrimage sites. What are world's most popular seven pilgrimage sites? The ranking is made based on the number of pilgrims' arrival in a year at these sites.
- The Ganges (River Ganga, India)
The river Ganga, the holiest of rivers and a sacred place for Hindus. The river rising from the Himalayas and flows to Bay of Bengal. It covers a length of 1560 miles or 2511 km. Taking a bath in the Ganga is believed to cleanse all sins. So Hindus across the country (India) and from other nations too make a pilgrimage to here. Pilgrims also reach to its famous shores at Rishikesh, Varanasi (Banaras), Allahabad and Kolkatta. There are a number of ancient beautiful temples in these regions.
It gets around 20 millions visitors a year. The Ganges stand No.I in pilgrimage sities. There is no challenge to Ganges as far as number of visitors are concerned. People of other faiths also visit the Ganges. During the famous 'Kumba Mela', visitors from Europe and USA reach here.
Pilgrimage can be classified into certain classes. Some involves just a journey and some requires a kind of sacrifice as well. A pilgrimage to Mecca or Sabarimala (Kerala, India) belongs to the second type. All religious people make pilgrimage and find pleasure in it. For the worship place, the pilgrimage is a revenue generating avenue.
Incidentally since I touched the word 'revenue', I cannot skip a mention about Tirupati. The Tirupati Balaji Temple in Andhra Pradesh in South India holds the record for having received the top revenue collection. They still maintain the record.
The world's largest 2nd pilgrim site. Mecca is in Saudi Arabia. It is Islam's most sacred city. Every Muslim's ultimate dream is to reach here before his or her death. Mecca received 13 million pilgrims a year. Last year about 2 million Muslims visited Mecca for Haj. Only Muslims are welcome here. Entry of the people from other religions is banned. It is a punishable offence too. From India, a very large contingent of Pilgrims go to Mecca for offering Haj. Their selection is based on certain criteria. India has the second largest population of Muslims in the world.
3. Our Lady of Gudalupe
The world's second most visited Catholic Church after Saint Peters, Vatican. Our Lady of Gudalupe is in Mexico City. Nearly 10 million pilgrims visit the Virgin Mary's Shrine. The legend goes thus: About 470 years ago Mary appeared to a poor Indian and asked him to build a shrine to her. She left an image of herself on his outer garment, a Til-ma, which is still intact.
Lourdes is in Southern France. Expecting some miraculous cures, seven million pilgrims visit here. It celebrates the Virgin Mary's ascent to Heaven.
5. Mata Vaishno Devi Temple, India
This Hindu Temple is in Jammu and Kashmir, India. A sacred place of Hindus and situated on the top of a steep hill at an altitude of 5200 feet in Katra. Eight million pilgrims flock to the temple.
6. The Vatican
The No.1 choice of Christians and the seat of the Catholic faith. It receives 4.2 million pilgrims annually. St. Peter died in the center of the Vatican circus and interred here, so believes the Catholics. Vatican is the smallest Country in the world.
What makes Jerusalem something rather special is, this is the sacred city of Jews, Muslims and Christians alike. Yearly it receives around 2 million visitors. It is a great tourist destination in the world and is in Israel. Christians believe the Last Supper was here and also the Crucifixion and the Resurrection of Christ. For Muslims, it is their third most revered site. They believe Prophet Mohammed ascended to Heaven here. And for the Jews, it is famous for the Biblical Zion, the City of David, the site of Solomon's Temple and Israel's eternal capital.
India's Great Pilgrimage Centers
- India's Ten Magnificent and Most Popular Temples
India is a great nation with lot of tourism potentialities. Apart from other attractions, it has a fine scope for making some great pilgrimage as the nation houses some wonderful temples. Read in detail about India's great pilgrim centers here.
© 2013 Sunil Kumar Kunnoth