6 Essential Destinations on the North Indian Spiritual Trail

India is a land of diversely divine worlds. Sikh priests sing all night from their golden sanctuary in Amritsar. Tibetan nuns spin a Buddhist prayer wheel next to the Dalai Lama’s house in Dharamsala.

A cross-country trip will lead you to temples, synagogues and mosques, and offers you a deep insight into India’s religious rituals…


Sikh meditating at Amritsar golden temple

Located on the border with Pakistan, Amritsar is the spiritual and cultural centre of the Sikh religion. The city was founded by the fourth of the Ten Gurus of Sikhism, Guru Ram Das, in the 16th century.

The city is home to one of India’s most precious and beautiful buildings – the Golden Temple. This is a holy shrine for Sikhs, which owes its name to the golden copper plates that entirely cover it.

Fun fact! Amritsar was named after the pond inside the temple complex: amrit, meaning nectar while sar is pond in Hindi.


Dharamsala stands at a height of about 2,000 metres above sea level, surrounded by the dazzling white peaks of the Himalayas. Picturesque corners offer magnificent views of the snow-covered mountains. Mysterious pine forests and verdant tea plantations sheath the rolling landscape.

Dharamsala has a most revered Buddhist resident, as it is the holy seat of the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. It’s no wonder the town bears rich Tibetan-Buddhist culture, architecture and a sacred soul.


Bara Imambara, Lucknow

Lucknow may be less popular with tourists but it’s still one of the most interesting destinations in North India. Late in the 18th century, the city experienced a cultural and musical renaissance. The manufacture of magnificent textiles and the culinary arts began to flourish.

Today, Lucknow is famous for its Mughal cuisine. But you can also follow in the footsteps of the rich Muslim Nawabs of Awadh with its numerous palaces, boulevards and gardens.


monks praying at bodhgaya

This ancient and holy city of Bihar is known for its associations with many fascinating historical figures, including King Asoka, Huen Tsang, Edwin Arnold, and Anagarika Dharmapala.

Legend has it Bodhgaya is also where the Lord Buddha attained enlightenment. You can visit the spot at the shrine of the Mahabodhi Temple. Niches have been carved out of stone throughout the temple to install small figurines of Buddha.


ganga river at varanasi

Varanasi, set on the banks of the River Ganges, is the oldest continuously inhabited settlement of the subcontinent. It is also one of the holiest sites for Hindus, which makes it a most popular pilgrimage destination.

Every year many Hindus come to Varanasi to die as they believe that being cremated at the city’s Mani Karnika Ghat will immediately liberate them from the cycle of birth and death.

Religious rituals are observed mainly at the ghats (steps leading to the river), where ritual purifications and ceremonies are performed.


India’s capital boasts a huge and varied number of attractions. Today, the city operates in two sections. In New Delhi, you can expect imposing government buildings, wide boulevards, verdant avenues and colonial-style summer houses.

Old Delhi reflects the incredible history of multicultural India, where you will find lively bazaars, narrow lanes, temples, mosques and historical monuments.

Find out more about a North India tour with Enchanting Travels or get inspired with some of my travel stories around Asia.

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