Travel Rajasthan in India  
 
Pilgrimages of Rajasthan
  Jain Temple in Ranakpur
  Shila Mata Temple in Jaipur
  Brahma Temple in Pushkar
  Shrinathji Temple in Nathwara
  Osiyan Temples in Jodhpur
 
  Karni Mata Temple in Deshnok
  Dilwara Temple in Mount Abu
  Rishabhdevji Temple in Dhulev
  Eklingji Temple in Udaipur
  Parshvanath Temple in Nakoda
  Shri Mahavirji Temple in Sawai Madhopur
  Dargah Sharif in Ajmer
     
History of Rajasthan
Geography of Rajasthan
Archaeology of Rajasthan
Economy of Rajasthan
Arts and Crafts of Rajasthan
Cuisine of Rajasthan
Dances and Music of Rajasthan
Climate of Rajasthan
Culture of Rajasthan
Wildlife in Rajasthan
Fairs and Festivals in Rajasthan
Destinations in Rajasthan
Tourist Attractions of Rajasthan
 
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PILGRIMAGES OF RAJASTHAN


Religion in India comprises beliefs and traditions that rank among the worlds most ancient and varied. India is one of the most religiously diverse nations in the world; religion plays a central role in the lives of most Indians. Numerous religions practiced by Indians can sometimes bewilder the visitor but a general understanding and tolerance has always existed and accounted for the wonderful cultural unity that has kept the Indian spirit alive.

The Resonance of Faith and Rituals

Temple bells chime across the still silence of the desert, the peals a clear sound that ring for a while, resound, and are then swallowed up into a great nothingness. It is a sound that bathes the dawn with an enchanted, magical beauty that gives definition to a life of harsh realities: in sand and scrub, the people have found not discomfort but faith, a force that gives them a positive radiance, and the mettle to create a life that is a celebration of their energies and their beliefs.

PILGRIMAGES OF RAJASTHAN

Every home in Rajasthan has its deities - those from the Hindu pantheon, folk heroes, mother goddesses, sati matas, even maharajas who ran their kingdoms like exemplary welfare states. Every village has its temples - from the vermilion daubed stones revered under the thickening trunks of ancient trees to carved temples that celebrate the spirit of their faith. Every faith has its gods - whether Hindu, Islamic, or Jain, in the nature of gurus, or as the cosmos itself. And every one of them has a place in Rajasthan, not only tolerant of each other's religions, but also participating in many of the events, or letting faiths intermingle to create a new vocabulary for those who believe in gods, and the power of gods.

The warrior spirit is a result, too, of this faith: it is the creed of the warrior to lay down his life in the protection of his motherland, a belief so strongly instilled that a spouse worships her husband in the image of god when he goes out to the battlefield - this even when, should he be slain, the wife would probably have to join in the jauhar procession, jumping into a fiery pit in a mass ritual of suicide. It was this faith too that led them to live with such zest, colouring their lives as they did their clothes, with the passion they believed the gods invested in their days spent on earth.

The religious kaleidoscope is truly amazing: the chanting of Jain hymns, and their observance of strict austerities is at odds with the Bhil zest for ritual festivities in honour of the gods, or even the Rajput exuberance in their faith, and in the preparations leading up to a religious ceremony, or the Muslim month of mourning and fasting even in the harshest climatic conditions. The Jains do not eat after sundown, the Muslims share their sweet porridge of sewaiyan with others on the occasion of Id, and the Rajputs sacrifice goats before their gods, and serve it as consecrated food. Yet, between them, there has always been a sense of harmony. The Rajput kings not only gave permission to the Muslims and Jain to build their religious shrines, they also, often, gave them the lands on which to do so.

These shrines were often, also profusely carved and sculptured, for the people invested their faith in creating temples and mosques of great and abiding beauty. Such shrines were also meeting points for the people, not only at the time of religious festivities, but even otherwise, and it was therefore usual to have plantations, even orchards, surround them. A well was essential for providing the water required to bathe the sanctum, but also for quenching the thirst of travellers who would seek shelter at temples on their journeys across the desert.

Given the hostile climate and landscape, the people found comfort too in the protection of the trees and their wildlife, investing them with spirits, so that tree felling was not encouraged, and even the peacock, monkey, deer and other animals were sanctified by faith. In the case of the Bishnois, followers of a 15th century saint, Jambhoji, such protection became a credo, and they became staunch conservatioists of their environment.

PILGRIMAGES OF RAJASTHAN

For the Rajputs, their worship is also a form of paying obeisance to their ancestors, for they believe themselves descended from the very gods they pray too, and have the genealogies to prove it. At all important temples and shrines, there are Bhats, keepers of the family records whose duty it is to maintain genealogies, tracing them back not just a few generations but - provided you have the patience - to the very beginnings of time. Most people know the clan's history, and are con-tent with their more recent antecedents, but the royal families, and those of aristocratic background, have written records that go back (and in great detail) to over five hundred generations. No wonder their faith, and their awesome ancestry, draw such reverence. Since these histories were sung for patron families by bards, the heroic deeds of their past ancestors were soon transformed into the mythic, deifying earlier generations. No wonder the people of Rajasthan are so affected by their pasts: it often seems more real than even the present they live in.

Main Religions in Rajasthan

Just like India, Rajasthan comprises of a number of religions. From the predominant Hinduism to the little less present Christianity, Rajasthan is a cultural and religious mixture of sorts. The religion and costumes of the tribes vary. They each have their own religion, costumes and profession. The main religions of Rajasthan, India are:

Hinduism

Of all the Rajasthan religions, the predominant one is Hinduism. With its root going beyond 1000 BC, Hinduism is the oldest religion in the world and there is a belief that we all go through a series of reincarnations and our rebirths are determined by our karmas, until we attain moksha. The central figure is the Hindu Trinity of Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver and Shiva the Destroyer. Vishnu the Preserver is believed to have come to earth in ten incarnations the popular ones being Rama and Krishna, the heroes of Ramayana and Mahabharata. These are the two major sources of Hindu belief and observance and are based on historical legends, myths and folklore. This religion consists in the worship of Brahma, Shiva, Shakti, Vishnu, and other gods and goddesses. Along with Hinduism, there is also Arya Samaj (a reforming sect of modern Hinduism). Rajasthan also has its share of myths and folklore. Several folk heroes are worshipped and one can see hundreds of simple shrines in every village. Stones are painted and established in tiny temples under trees and near wells. Folk heroes like Pabuji, Gogaji, Baba Ramdeo, Harbhuji and Mehaji are revered. All forms of nature are worshipped and each area has its own local deity.

Some of the famous Hindu religious places in Rajasthan are - Nathdwara, Eklingji Shiva Temple, Birla Mandir (temple), Govind Devji Temple, Brahma Temple and so on.

Islam

The largest minority in India, Muslims are followers of the prophet Mohammad who was born in Mecca, Saudi Arabia in 570 AD. The world's greatest Sufi shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti lies in Ajmer. Another pilgrimage centre is the Atarki Dargah, the tomb of Hamiuddin Nagori at Nagaur. The followers of these religions and rulers, over the period, were instrumental in constructing a number of very important temples, mosques, churches which were built in different part of the state. some of the most exquisite carvings on marble, stone and wood were created by the believers and exist to this day as a living proof of the creative genius which continues to fascinate by its sheer brilliance. Other than the structures themselves, the very surroundings of these holy places can give the visitor a sense of peace and calm.

PILGRIMAGES OF RAJASTHAN

Jainism

Another important and widely followed religion in Rajasthan is Jainism. Founded by Lord Rishabh and reorganised by Lord Mahavir, born in 599 BC, it is one of the oldest living religions of the world. Jains follow the teachings of Lord Mahavir, the 24th Tirthankara. Mahavir stressed on the practice of non-violence. The main followers of this religion include the trading class and the wealthy section of society.

The famous religious places of Jains in Rajasthan include Ossian Jain Temples, Dilwara Jain Temples, Ranakpur Jain Temple and so on.

Dadupanthi

Another religious sect of Rajasthan includes the Dadupanthis. They are the followers of Dadu, who preached the equality of all men, strict vegetarianism, total abstinence from intoxicating liquor, and lifelong celibacy.

Sikhism

Over time, there has been a considerable increase in the number of followers of Sikh religion. The Sikhs believe in formless God and worship their holy book 'Guru Granth Sahib'.

Christians

The population of Christians in Rajasthan is quite small.

RELIGIOUS SITES IN RAJASTHAN

Jain Temple in Ranakpur Rajasthan

Ranakpur is located in the mountain ranges of Pali district, 23 kms away from the Phalna railway station. Ranakpur is reached after passing lush green valleys and streams and the heart capturing views drive away any fatigue of the journey. The Ranakpur Jain temples were built during the region of the liberal and gifted monarch Rana Kumbha in the 15th century.
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Shila Mata Temple in Jaipur, Rajasthan

A 16th century temple dedicated to the goddess Kali and built by Maharaja Man Singh who was a great devotee of goddess Kali and worshipped the goddess for victory during battles. The Kali temple has huge doors made of silver. The image of Goddess Kali was brought by Raja Man Singh from Jessore in East Bengal, which is now known as Bangladesh.  Also in Amber are a number of other Shiva temples.
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Brahma Temple in Pushkar, Rajasthan


The Brahma temple is an important pilgrim centre for the Hindus. It is nestled in the Pushkar valley which lies beyond Nagaparvat and the Anasagar lake. This place, full of natural beauty, holds a special place in the hearts of Indians for it is believed that Lord Brahma, together with all the gods and goddesses, performed a Yagya here.
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Shrinathji Temple in Nathwara, Rajasthan

The temple of shrinathji or Lord Krishna, belonging to the Vaishnav religion is located at Nathdwara, 48 kms north of Udaipur. As thousands of tourists and pilgrims from all parts of the world pass the lofty mountains and serene lakes of Udaipur, it is impossible for them to resist visiting this important pilgrim centre.
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Osiyan Temples in Jodhpur, Rajasthan

Situated midway between Jaisalmer and Jodhpur, the place is most famous for its Jain temples. 58 km away from Jodhpur the ancient township was located on a very important trade route between the 8 th and the 12th centuries. The town was dominated by the Oswal Jains, (a merchant class) both commercially and demographically. Here the Oswal Jain built their temples of stunning quality. Along with Jain temples you will also find superb Hindu temples dedicated to various Hindu gods like Shiva, Vishnu, Surya the sun god and Harihara (the union of Vishnu with Shiva) making Osiyan a truly secular centre.  
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Shri Ramdev Temple in Ramdevra, Rajasthan


A wonderful pilgrim centre which symbolises national unity and communal harmony as devotees of all religions comes here to pay homage. The majestic Shri Ramdev temple at Ramdevra, Runicha, 13 kms from Pokram in Jaisalmer district, houses the shrine of Ramdev. He is believed to have been incarnated on earth for the benefit of humanity and was born in the houses of Ajmalji in the Tomar Rajput family.
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Karni Mata Temple in Deshnok, Rajasthan


The Karni Mata temple, 30 kms from Bikaner, is dedicated to an early fifteenth century mystic who was considered to be a reincarnation of goddess Durga. The specially of the temple is that it is inhabited by legions of brown rats which scurry around the complex without aby fear. The rats are believed to be respositories of the souls of dead charans, the traditional bards
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Dilwara Temple in Mount Abu, Rajasthan


The Jain temples at Dilwara, near Mount Abu are considered to be masterpieces of temple architecture. The Vimalvashi temple was built by the commander Vimalshah on the order of King Bhimdev in 1031 A.D. It took around 1,500 workers, several years to build. There are forty eight pillars, sixteen pillars have the images of females figures in dancing poses.
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Rishabhdevji Temple in Dhulev, Rajasthan

The Rishabhdevji temple is situated in Dhulev, 64 kms from Udaipur. This temple, on the bank of the Koyal river, holds a special significance for people of that area. Elephants made of black stone welcome pilgrims as they enter the temple. On the north is the image of Goddess Chakreshvari and on the southern side, there is an image of goddess Padmavati. The Rishabhdevji temple dates back to the 15th century.
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Eklingji Temple in Udaipur, Rajasthan


24 kms north of Udaipur is the temple of Eklingji, the tutelary deity of the rulers of Mewar. It is a complex of 108 temples enclosed by high walls with bathing terraces leading down to the water. The atmosphere excludes the fragrance of incense material such as dhoop, deep and sandalwood. The fifty feet high Eklingji temple has a multi- faced image of Lord Shiva made of black stone.
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Parshvanath Temple in Nakoda, Rajasthan


On the road from Jodhpur to Barmer, the Nakoda Parshvanath temple is situated in a valley surrounded by hills as high as 1,500 feet. Among the statues here, there is an image of the Jain saint (tirthankara) Parshvanath in black stone. Beside this, there is another temple with high leading steps called the Shantinath temple.
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Shri Mahavirji Temple in Sawai Madhopur, Rajasthan


This Digember Jain piligram centre is 90 Kms by rail from Sawai Madhopur on the Delhi-Mumbai Broad gauge route. The main temple is in side in inclouser known as katla. Accourdinfg to a legend, status of Shri Mahavirji, the 24th Jain tirthankar, was unearthed by a cowherd a few hundred years back. The place, in due course of time, become a pilgrim centre and attracts Jains far and wide.
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Dargah Sharif in Ajmer, Rajasthan

The dargah Sharif or the place of Where the Muslim saint KhajwaMoinudin Chishti lie sburied, draws piligrams and devotees from all parts of the Islamic world. But his admirers today come from all religions as the Dargah Sharif is considered a shrine where wishes are fulfiled.
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