From ArticleWorld

A Pilgrimage is a journey to a shrine or sacred place related to one’s beliefs and faith. The term has a religious and spiritual connotation. Every religion advocates pilgrimages. The person embarking on such a journey is called a pilgrim.

Civic or secular pilgrimages are also common especially in UK and USA. The Britishers traveling to London to view the public appearance of the Monarch of UK, label such journeys as pilgrimages. Americans also make pilgrimages to Washington DC to see the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States.


Ancient pilgrim places

Even in ancient times, pilgrimages were made to temples, holy sites, grove etc., some of which are :

  • Delphi, Greece. Oracle
  • Karnak, Egypt
  • Kurukshetra, India
  • Ephesus Temple of Diana
  • Baalbek Lebanon


According to Gautam Buddha, the four pilgimage sites are :

  • Lumbini, birth place
  • Bodh Gaya place of Enlightenment
  • Sarnath (formally Isipathana) where he delivered his first teaching
  • Kusinagar (formerly Kusinara, India) where he passed away

Tibetian Buddhist pilgrimage places are :

  • Lhasa, capital of Tibet and traditional home of the Dalai Lama
  • Mount Kailash
  • Lake Nam-tso


Early Christians made pilgrimages to places connected with the events in the life of Jesus Christ. The second largest pilgrimage in Christendom was to the Funeral of Pope John Paul II after he passed away on 2nd April, 2005. More than four million people traveled to Vatican city to see the body lie in state. This number is in addition to the three million population of the country.

The major Christian pilgrimage sites are :

  • Jerusalem, Site of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus
  • Rome on roads such as the Via Francigena. Site of the deaths of Saint Peter, Saint Paul and other martyrs. It is also the Headquarters of the Catholic Church.
  • Santiago de Compostela, Spain on the Way of St James (Spanish: the Camino de Santiago). This was a famous medieval pilgrimage to the shrine of Saint James and is popular even today.
  • Bethlehem, Israel, Birthplace of Jesus and King David
  • Cathedral of Chartres, France
  • Croagh Patrick, Ireland. Saint Patrick
  • Nazareth, Israel, hometown of Jesus
  • Fatima, Portugal. Apparition of the Virgin Mary


Major pilgrim points are :

  • Haridwar
  • Benaras
  • Vrindavan
  • Kedarnath
  • Gangotri
  • Rishikesh

The last four are together known as ‘chardham’ (Four holy pilgrimage destinations) and are usually completed in one pilgrimage.


Hajj : It is mandatory for all able-bodied followers to go to Mecca once in their lifetime. It is one of the five pillars of Islam.


The Jain tirthas can be geographically divided into six quarters :

  • North India: Hastinapur, Takshashila, Ashtapada etc
  • South India: Shravanabelagola, Mudabidri, Hummacha etc
  • Eastern India: Sammet Sikhar, Pavapuri, Champa, etc
  • Western India: Shatrunajaya, Girnar, Abu, Mahavirji etc
  • Central India: Vidisha, Kundalpur, Sonagir, etc
  • Overseas: Siddhachalam, Nava-ashtapad etc