India is credited to pioneer the concept of tourism in the form of pilgrimages, as early as during Vedic Era. Sages, saints, ‘rishi - muni (ऋषि -मुनि) used to crisscross India’s landscape. Common masses too participated in regular pilgrimages since time immemorial. Accounts from the Epics and Puranas reveal that the tradition of religious travels flourished all through the ancient times, and that, sincere efforts were made by the contemporary rulers to develop wayside facilities and amenities, especially en route the sacred centers. In ancient Hindu literature, stories related to Sage Agastya are readily available to read. He traversed from north India by crossing Vindhya mountain to Kerala in south India, established his ‘ashram’ and reinforced the Sanatan Dharm. Lord Ram met Sage Agastya at Pothigai Hills in Tamil Nadu. Ramayana time story of Shravan Kumar is related to pilgrimage of his parents. In fact, aware of the paramount contribution of ‘travel’ in broadening the horizons of knowledge vis-a- vis forging social integration, it was intelligently blended with religious dicta so as to make traveling a social movement. Pilgrimage and travel have been intricately intertwined with social life of the people of India since time immemorial. Aitereya Brahman (ऐतरेय ब्राह्मण), one of the famous Vedic era scriptures, instructs ‘Charaiveti Charaiveti’ (चरैवेति चरैवेति - keep on traveling and traveling), suggesting to bolster the spirit to explore the world and inculcate healthy social attitude for guest - host relationship.
Wherever a European finds a spot of more than usual beauty or magnificence, he builds a hotel at the place to attract tourists, while a Hindu erects a temple on the top of mountains and at the confluence of rivers to invite pilgrims. That is typical of the Hindu as distinguished from the European way. The Hindu mind is habitually turned to the ways of religion and worship, and the whole of this beautiful land of Bharat is studded with temples and places of worship. Every attractive spot in India is devoted to God in one form or another and a temple is erected in memory of famous deity, saint or ‘sadhu’. Nor are dreary and deserted regions neglected. Thus, the whole country from Kanyakumari (Cape Camorin) to the Himalayas and from the Indus to the Brahmaputra, is a vast treasure-house of sacred shrines and cities. Most of these sacred shrines and cities; date from prehistoric times, and the legends associated with their origin are an imperishable tradition with the Hindus. They form the subject-matter of songs and sacred literature and they are writ large in the very stones that endure to this day after centuries of vicissitudes. It is remarkable that neither wave after wave of foreign conquest, nor the vandalism of iconoclasts, could impair the vitality of the ancient heritage of the Hindus. The arts and architecture, which enshrine the rich traditions of culture and religion in India, have survived the onslaughts of thousands of years. Optima Travels keeps designing Indian pilgrimage itineraries covering important cities and sacred shrines all over India—which, in regard to matters of culture and civilization, have remained through the ages -one- and indivisible. Neither wars nor conquests, diversities of occupation or allegiance, nor all the accidents of history through vast spaces and immemorial times could obliterate the fundamental unity of India.
Buddhist pilgrimage tours, Sikh pilgrimage tourism and Jain pilgrimage tour packages are also highly popular and continue round the year. Buddhist holy places are primarily the sites related to Lord Buddha. There are four most sacred pilgrimage places for a Buddhist – Bodh Gaya, Sarnath, Kushinagar & Lumbini (Nepal). Similarly, the places associated with Sikh Gurus are pilgrimage sites for the Sikh people. Some of the most revered places are Harmandir Sahib & Anandpur Sahib in Punjab, Patna Sahib in Patna, Sisganj & Bangla Sahib in Delhi, Manikarn & Poanta Sahin in Himachal Pradesh, Hazur Sahib in Nanded etc. Likewise Mount Abu & Ranakpur in Rajasthan, Pawapuri in Bihar, Gomateshwar (Bahubali Statue) in Karnataka, Shikhar in Jharkhand, Udaigiri & Khandgiri Caves in Odisha, Palitana in Gujarat, Sonagiri in Madhya Pradesh etc are famous pilgrimage places of the Jain people.
A pilgrimage provides new experiences for our memories. It helps a pilgrim to explore various villages, towns and cities en route. Exposure to local languages, cuisines and cultures widens the vista of thinking & understanding. Interacting with different people add colors to a pilgrims memory. Travel often involves walking. Walking makes the body strong. The thigh, arm, pulse and muscles are strengthened. A large collection of Pilgrimage Tour Packages India is listed below. An avid traveler or pilgrim may opt for any. These pilgrimage tours are completely customizable to traveler’s unique requirements and interests.