Pilgrimages in Rajasthan: Ajmer, Pushkar, Merta, Jaipur, Shekhawati, Mount Abu, Ranakpur, Nathdwara, Eklingji, Nagda, Bikaner, Jaisalmer

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Pilgrimages in Rajasthan

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From the ancient times, the religion has played a very important role in the life of people of Rajasthan. The people of all religions like Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Jains and Parsis are present here, who practice their religion, without any barrier and also participate in each other's festivals and other ocassions. These people have faith in their respective gods and gurus. Every home in Rajasthan has a deity of the Hindu pantheon, folk heroes, mother goddesses, Sati mata and rulers and every village has a temple that ranges from the vermilion daubed stone revered under the thick trunks of ancient trees to carved temples that celebrate the spirit of their faith. The rulers of Rajasthan not only built magnificent forts and palaces but at the same time also constructed beautiful temples, dedicated to their family deity or granted the land to the Jains and other feudal chiefs and nobles to erect the temple. They also assigned villages to these centres for their maintenance. Pilgrimages to such centres are generally performed as acts of faith and devotion for the accumulation of religious merit or as atonement for sin. The religious shrines and temples in Rajasthan are not only places of worship and peace but also monuments of great artistic beauty. The best moments at these centres are the time of the aarti (ritual prayer) and the singing of bhajans (hymns). Even today Rajasthan attracts thousands of devotees, pilgrims and art lovers from all parts of the world. Some of the famous pilgrimage places in Rajasthan are as follows:


Ajmer is the most ancient and sacred pilgrimage place to the Muslims, Jains and Hindus in Rajasthan. Ajmer is also a great centre of Muslim pilgrimage. It is known for the famous Dargah Sharif of the Muslim Saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti. Kalpvarksha of Mangliawas near Ajmer is also regarded as a place of pilgrimage.

Dargah Sharif

The Dargah Sharif in Ajmer is the place where the Muslim Saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti was buried. It is said that when he was 114 years old, the saint locked himself into a room to pray. Six days later, when disciples broke the door, they found his mortal remains. It is for this reason that the annual Urs is celebrated here for a period of six days. This place is considered as a second Islamic shrine after Mecca-Madina and not only draws pilgrims and devotees from the Muslim community but also attracts pilgrims of every religion from the other parts of India and world. The devotees believe that Dargah Sharif is a shrine where all the 

Dargah Sharif, Ajmer

wishes of pilgrims are fulfilled. The Urs, held in the first week of the Islamic month of Rajab, attracts thousands of pilgrims to Ajmer, making it the largest Muslim fair in India. During this Urs, consecrated food is cooked in huge cauldrons, and served by those who serve at the shrine, while standing within it. It is believed that the huge cauldrons were gifted from emperor Akbar who came to pray at the shrine and pray for the boon of heirs, and was blessed with sons. Since then, the Mughal emperors Akbar, Jahangir, Shah Jahan visited here annually to offer their tribute. The lighting of incense, offering of flowers or Chaddar (woven garlands) on the grave of the saint, reading of the scriptures, and the passionate singing of the quawalli songs are some of the important religious rites associated with the Urs.   More....


Pushkar is a very sacred pilgrimage place of the Hindus and a major tourist attraction in Rajsthan. Pushkar is also known all over the world due to the camel and cattle fair, which is held in November. Pushkar is also known for the Brahma temple and Pushkar lake.

Brahma Temple and Pushkar Lake

Pushkar Lake, Pushkar

The Brahma temple is an important pilgrimage centre for the Hindus. It is the only one temple of Lord Brahma which is situated in Pushkar. According to Hindu Mythology, the Lord Brahma together with all the gods and goddesses performed a Yagna here. A silver turtle situated at the entrance of the marble temple is a symbol of his means of transport. The Pushkar Lake is regarded as the most sacred lake in India. This lake is surrounded by many fine temples and their stepped ghats, and remains dotted with devotees and bathers, doing some rituals. This view becomes more enchanting during the Kartik Snana, when thousands of pilgrims gather on the steps to bathe in its holy water. According to legend, the Lord Brahma dropped a lotus here and as a result this lake was created.   More....


Meera Temple
The Meera Temple in Merta, also known as Charbhuja temple which is devoted to the Lord Krishna. This temple is very popular in Rajasthan as the mystic poetess and princess Meera bai composed her hymns in the praise of the Lord Krishna, and sang them for thousands of pilgrims.


There are a large number of well known temples in Jaipur that are popular with both residents and visitors. The most famous temples in Jaipur are the Govind Dev ji temple, Moti Doongri Ganesh temple, Birla Mandir, Galtaji, Jhulelal temple and Shila Mata temple, dedicated to the goddess Kali in Amber.

Govind Devji Temple

The Govind Devji temple was the family temple of the Kachchwahas of Jaipur, and open to the public. This temple houses the images of Govind Devji or Lord Krishna and Radha. The idols in the temple were brought from Vrindavan, are believed to have been carved by Vajranath, one of the greatest sculptors of the time, and grandson of Krishna. The temple was built as a part of the City Palace complex by Sawai Jai Singh II. It is a simple temple, with an open pavilion surrounded by columns, and a tiered courtyard. The idols are mounted on a silver throne, and ornamented with gold jewellery, and are particularly venerated during Janamashatmi.

Jhulelal Temple

The Jhulelal temple is the recently renovated temple in Jaipur. This temple is dedicated to the patron saint of the same name, and located in the tourism zone of Hawa Mahal, on the Amber Road. This temple has always been a source of pilgrimage for the Sindhi community. The white temple complex is situated within a garden, and stands on an elevated platform that is reached by a verandah surrounded by pillars. A dome is painted entirely with scenes depicting the birth and childhood of Lord Krishna. There are also idols of Jhulelal and Durgam, the Guru Granth Sahib, and images of other deities in the temple.


Galtaji, the medieval Hanuman temple rises sharply from a deep gorge on the hills. This temple is visited by a large mass of people, mainly during the monsoon.

Shri Mahavirji Temple

Shri Mahavirji Temple is located about 90 km from Ranthambore. Shri Mahaveerji is a famous centre of Jain pilgrimage. It is believed that this place was converted into a pilgrimage centre following the unearthing of a statue of Mahavira by a cowherd. The temple is a vast complex which is constructed with white sandstone, and has cupolas of red sandstone. Its chaatris and spires are visible from all around. The walls are painted with religious scenes, and facing the temple is a tower where the footsteps of Mahavira have been consecrated.

Venkatesh Devasthan, Sujangarh

The Venkatesh Devasthan has been recently built in 1994 in Sujangarh in the Shekhawati region. Sri Venkatesh Devasthan is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, who is also known as Venkatesh in the South. This temple is a replica of the temple in Tirupati, with its gopurams, and sculpted façade. This temple is open throughout the day and specific times have been set for the ritual prayers to be offered at dawn, in the morning, and evening.

Khatu Shyamji, Sikar

According to the legend, the Lord Krishna asked for the head of a Brahmin named Babhruvahan. The Brahmin readily sacrificed himself, and the pleased Krishna then placed the head upon a hillock, to be worshipped in his own name. One of the major attraction in this place is an annual fair which is held at the temple of Khatu Shyamji.

Kolayat, Bikaner

Kolayat is located close to Bikaner and an ancient pilgrimage centre. This place is associated with the great saint, Kapil Muni. Various temples are built around the ghats on this holy reservoir.

Mount Abu

Mount Abu, south of Udaipur, has a history replete with sages and saint, myths and legends. Till the 11th century, it was an important pilgrimage centre of the Vaishnavites and Shaivites, but today, it is recognized as the Jain pilgrim centre. Mount Abu is known for the Dilwara temple and Nakki Lake.

Dilwara Temple

The Dilwara Jain temples were built in 1031 AD, and among the finest examples of Jain architecture in India. The Dilwara temples are located within an ancient mango grove and are only open between noon till six in the evening. In the morning, the priests perform several rituals, that the local people can't view. The complex has four temples in which the art of marble carving reached a great height. These temples are the Vimalshahi, Lunavashahi, Rishabhdeo and Chaumukha. The two main shrines of Adinath and Neminath are elaborately carved from doorways and lintels to ceilings, pillars, walls and arches. Every pillar, arch and ceiling has been carved with great delicacy from marble.   More....

Dilwara Temple, Mount Abu

Ranakpur, Ghanerao, Nadol, Narlai and Varkana are described as the panchtirthas or five famous Jain pilgrimages. Ranakpur is located in the mountain ranges of Pali district in the Mewar region, about 90 km from Udaipur. Ranakpur is known for its superbly carved marble Jain Temples.

Jain Temple

The Jain temples in Ranakpur were built during the reign of the Rana Kumbha in the 15th century and are well preserved. The Ranakpur temples are built on the tract of land which was gifted by the Ranas to the Jains in the 15th century. The main temple, popularly called as Chaumukha is dedicated to the Rishabhdeo. This temple is open on all four sides and enshrines the four-faced image of Adinath. An enormous basement of this temple covers 48,000 square feet. This temple rises three storeys and has four subsidiary shrines and twenty four pillared halls with 80 spires supported on 420 columns. The total number of columns is 1444, all of which are intricately carved, no two being alike. A small Parshvanath shrine faces the main temple. Within the complex, there is also the Sun temple, with carvings of warriors, horses and solar deities riding chariots.   More....


Osian is located off the Jodhpur–Bikaner highway, and 65 km from Jodhpur. Once, Osian was a major centre of pilgrimage both for Hindus and Jains. The remaining temples are like a cathedral to their grand faith in the medieval ages.  More....

Shrinathji Temple, Nathdwara

The Shrinathji temple is located at Nathdwara, about 48 kms. north of Udaipur. This place is a famous pilgrimage centre of the Vaishnavas. In this temple, there is a unique image of Lord Krishna, which has been sculptured from a single piece of black marble. At the temple, the glimpses of the idol are permitted for very short intervals, at fixed times of the day and it is believed that the faithful see him in the different moods associated with his life. According to the legends, the Goswami Dev was bringing the idol of Lord Krishna from Mathura in a chariot to save it from the hands of Aurangzeb. While coming, the wheel of the chariot got stuck in the sand and could not be pulled out. Seeing it as an act of the divine will, he decided that the image of the Lord should be kept at that particular spot, as a result the temple of Shrinathji was built in the early 18th century. Thousands of tourists and pilgrims who pass the lofty mountains and serene lakes of Udaipur, surely visit this temple. The ruling house of Udaipur also worship in this temple and the Maharana of Udaipur is also known as the Shriji among his people. Holi, Janmashtami and Annakoot festival are celebrated with great enthusiasm in this temple.    More....


Eklingji, about 22 kms north-east of Udaipur, was built in 734 AD as a beautifully sculpted temple complex of 108 temples within its high fortified wall. According to the legends, the Bappa Rawal, the founder of Mewar dynasty, had a dream in which he prayed before an image of Lord Shiva and as a result his problem was removed. So he resolved to construct the temple and so he constructed this temple at Eklingji and ever since, Eklingji has been regarded as the true ruler of Mewar and on his name, the Maharanas governed Mewar. The main temple dedicated to Eklingji, the Lord Shiva is the tallest temple and built of granite and marble and has an ornated, pillared hall, under a pyramidal roof. The Linga of Lord Shiva is in black marble and contains four images of Surya, Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra in four cardinal directions. Outside, opposite the west-facing side of Shiva is a statue of the bull, Nandi, Shiva’s vehicle. The complex also has life-size image of Bappa Rawal, and its numerous temple have carved images of Ganesh, Durga, Kali and other Shivalingas, and other celestial bodies.


Nagda, the old capital of Mewar is also located near Eklingji. There are various temples in Nagda which belong to the 4th century AD, and are mostly worshipped and respected by Bhil tribals. A fair is held during the Shivratri festival in Nagda.

Rishabdeo Temple, Dhulev

Rishabdeo Temple is situated in Dhulev, about 64 km from Udaipur. This temple complex is beautifully carved and dedicated to Rishabdeo, while images of several other tirthankaras are carved into panels on the walls. This temple was built in the 15th century, and has stone elephants at the entrance. Various phases of Rishabdeo’s life are also illustrated through sculptured panels and images of goddesses are also there in the main shrine. Saffron is offered to the deity and a rath yatra is held which attracts pilgrims from all over India.

Parsvanath Temple, Nakoda

The Parsvanath Temple in Nakoda is also one of the famous pilgrimage place, situated in a valley ringed by the hills on the Jodhpur-Barmer highway. This temple is dedicated to the tirthankara Parsvanath and carved in black stone. Besides this, some other temples in Nakoda are Shantinath, Pundarik Swami Charbhuja, and Bhairon temple.

Besides these temples, the Ganesh temple at Ranthambhore, Kama in Bharatpur and Kailadevi in Karauli are the other famous temples in Rajasthan.

Besides the above shrines, there are several other shrines in Rajasthan which are dedicated to family deities and folk heroes who have been given the position of eminence.

Folk Heroes and Family Deities

The Karni Mata temple in Deshnok, about 30 km from Bikaner is one of the family deities of Bikaner. The royal family of Bikaner worshipped the Karni Mata, who was the presiding deity at that time. In the 15th century, the Karni Mata was considered as laying foundations of the kingdom of Bikaner, and as a reincarnation of goddess Durga. The temple, with its carved marble façade is known for the rats who, it is believed, are the reborn soul of the Charans who serve at the temple. The devotees offer milk, grains and sweets to rats that fearlessly roam in the temple. Sighting a white rat is considered very auspicious in this temple. A fair is also held in this temple on the occasion of Navratri. 

One of the major folk hero was Baba Ramdev. He was born in a Tomar Rajput family at Runicha, near Pokaran. He performed various miracles, fought with demons, and even earned the respect of maulvis from Mecca. He attained a divine state of meditation at Ramdevra, and since he has been seen on horseback by people. The Ramdev temple at Ramdevra-Runicha, 13 km from Pokran in Jaisalmer, houses the shrine of Ramdevji, who is popularly recalled in songs as Ramshah Pir. This famous pilgrimage centre that symbolizes national unity and communal harmony as this temple is visited by the devotees of all religions. Two annual fairs are held here in his memory.

The other major folk gods are Pabuji, Gogaji, Mehaji and Harbhuji, whose shrines are located in almost all villages and towns. These were largely pastoral heroes who fought for the welfare of their village communities, often dying in the process. They were also able to protect the people from cattle disease, snake bite, poverty and sickness. It is they, and others like them, Rajasthan’s living gods, who make this an enchanted land where the supernatural is natural.

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