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Rajasthan is the land of rich history, culture, and tradition that dates back thousands of years. The state encompasses in its very being music and arts, which give it a unique character. Home to innumerable shrines, mosques, and dargahs it offers an unparalleled spiritual experience. By Manya Saini

It’s the land of vibrant culture, emotions, adventure, history, and spirituality that can ignite the wanderlust in any traveller. The state of Rajasthan is grounded in its beauty and quintessential charm with locals greeting visitors with a wide smile and traditional, Khamma Ghani. Rooted in ancient beliefs, traditions, and values, it is a pilgrims paradise.

 

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Escape to the state and experience a melting pot of religions, living in harmony and peace with one another. It is home to a multitude of destinations which never disappoint. Rajasthan is the land where a pilgrim can lose his/her heart with no difficulty. When you decide to take this life-changing trip, make sure you don’t miss out on these places that imbibe the heart of pilgrimage in the state.

1. Brahma Temple, Pushkar

The 2,000-year-old, Jagatpati Brahma Mandir, dedicated to the Hindu deity Brahma, the god of all creation, is one of the most beloved pilgrimage sites in the state. The temple is unique in its architecture with a red-coloured shikara, stone slabs and marble. Devotees write their names on silver coins, which are inlaid across the inner sanctum of the temple as an offering of their prayers to the god. The idol in the centre of the shrine is believed to grant wishes to all those who pray with a pure heart. The local legend believes that the original structure at the site was built by sage Vishwamitra after offering prayers to Lord Brahma.

 

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Getting There

A holiday to the town is best enjoyed between July to March when the weather is temperate and the summers have passed. To immerse yourself in all that the temple has to offer, visit during the Kartik Poornima festival to see the shrine in all its glory. The city does not have an airport, with the most convenient option for air travel being Jaipur, from where it can be reached by road or train. Stay at the Dera Masuda, a luxury resort, designed to complement the cityscape rather than overpower it.

2. Karni Mata Temple, Bikaner

The famous Karni Mata Temple or the ‘temple of rats’ is located 30 kilometres away from the quaint town of Bikaner in Rajasthan. Home to almost 20,000 rats, it is the only place in the country where they are revered with pilgrims thronging to the site to pay respects to rats. A pilgrim who sees a white rat inside the temple amid a mass of black ones is believed to have seen the goddess herself, who will grant their wishes. A place built less with bricks and stones, and more with legends and folklore, it is a destination of faith and heart. The doors of this temple are made of solid silver depicting legends of the goddess through intricate engravings.

 

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Getting There

The best hotel in Bikaner is The Lallgarh Palace rooted in the history of the area with both its design and vibe. It is best to avoid travelling to Rajasthan in the summers with the hot desert sun on your head. The months of October to February are ideal months to enjoy the area. Reach the city directly by train or road as it is well connected by both to most cities.

3. Hazrat Khwaja Nawaz Dargah, Ajmer Sharif, Ajmer

Cocooned in the Aravali ranges, the Hazrat Khwaja Nawaz Dargah, famously known as Ajmer Sharif is dedicated to Sufi Saint Salim Chishti. The Dargah was built by Mughal Emperor Akbar, who came to see the revered saint, to pray for a child. When the wish was fulfilled, the King named his son, Salim after the saint in gratitude. The ethos of piety and the fulfilment of wishes of those that visit with a pure and selfless heart lives in the shrine to this day. The aura of the dargah and its facade, designed in the style of classic Mughal architecture bears witness to millions of pilgrims. It is a site with a true syncretic heart, welcoming tourists of all faiths and religions with open arms.

 

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Getting There

Stay at the LN Courtyard Hotel in Ajmer between November to February to immerse yourself in the holy city. The most convenient travel options are train and airways, with the closest airport being located in Jaipur, about 132 kilometres away. Regular buses and private taxis are available to take pilgrims from the Pink City to Ajmer.

4. Deo Somnath Temple, Dungarpur

An ancient temple located in isolation, the Deo Somnath Shrine is a 12th-century marvel dedicated to Lord Shiva. The inscriptions on the temple walls can be traced far back to the 12th century. The devotees of the Hindu God Shiva created this temple as a replica of the original Somnath Temple in Gujarat. They feared that the real shrine which had seen many loots and plunders would fall to ruin, taking away the essence of the god on earth. To preserve the deity in their memory for eternity the devout pilgrims constructed the marble Deo Somnath shrine. It is a site that holds the spirituality of yesteryear and is of unparalleled religious sanctity in the state.

 

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Getting There

Though a visit to this stunning temple promises to be worth of every last trouble of reaching there, the site is remote. Arrive at the Udaipur Airport, book your stay in the city at the luxurious The Leela Palace, Udaipur, as Dungarpur and Deo Gaon do not usually have accommodation available. Marvel at the scene Rajasthani countryside while travelling by road to the shrine by bus or cab. Much like the rest of the state, avoid visiting in the summer season, instead choose the cooler temperate months between November to March.

5. Ranakpur Jain Temple, Sadri

The Ranakpur Jain Temple is a religious sanctuary, built with love and care for almost 50 years. The shrine is one of Jainism’s most treasured pilgrimages and Rajasthan’s best-kept secret. The temple has four entrances with the inner sanctum housing the main shrines along with many smaller ones along the way. The temple is dedicated to the first Jain Tirthankar of our time cycle, Adinath, who has also been deemed as Lord Rishabha in Jain sacred texts. The marble temple is held up by 1,444 ornately carved pillars with motifs of flowers, elephants, and people depicting stories of the ancient past. The exquisite beauty of the shrine raptures the pilgrims every sense to transport them to a different world of spirituality and mysticism.

 

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Getting There

The location of the temple is remote, located about 90 kilometres away from Udaipur, which has the nearest airport. You can either book your accommodation in the city or choose to stay in the area at the Hotel Maharani Bagh after arriving by road in a cab or bus. Be sure to avoid the desert sun and not book your travel in the summers. Visit the site between October to February to enjoy its beauty and spiritual splendour to the fullest.

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