5 Places To Find Nirvana In India
India has a fascinating spiritual history and culture. Many people may not realize that though Hinduism has long been the most prominent Indian religion, both Hinduism and Buddhism originated in northern India in ancient times. For that matter, Jainism and Sikhism can be traced back to India as well. All in all, the history of the subcontinent from a religious perspective is both complex and fascinating, and over time has created a rich tapestry of religious culture.
One feature of this tapestry that may also surprise some people is that spiritual nirvana is a concept for some in India (as well as some who visit). Over the years, nirvana has become a vague idea to many in the international community, thanks in large part to pop culture twists on it. The spiritual notion was used as the namesake for one of the most popular bands of the last 50 years, and “Nirvana” is currently the name of an online arcade game as well. The game actually speaks somewhat to the idea, with lush backdrops of mountains and clouds and a focus on a sort of mystical peace.
Now, in actual religious practice, nirvana represents a sort of ultimate state of peace. It’s the final stage of Buddhism in which one is freed from the cycle of reincarnation and able to transcend to a higher space. No element of pop culture, be it a band, an internet game, or anything else, can really speak to a notion that big. But in a more casual sense, the term “nirvana” has evolved over the years to represent a high state of spiritual peace – and this at least is an idea that blends nicely into the full tapestry of Indian religious history.
For centuries, Indians have done as good a job as any people in the world of setting up religious buildings and retreats in beautiful areas. Whether directly or indirectly, it speaks to the pursuit of that spiritual peace that we think of as a more earthbound sense of nirvana. These locations can make for excellent destinations on a journey through India, so we wanted to list a few of them.
Ranakpur Jain Temple
The Ranakpur Jain Temple is one of five sacred pilgrimage destinations for Jainism practitioners, and at a glance it’s easy to see why. It’s a stunningly constructed temple, made largely of marble and considered by some to be a wonder of the world (though it’s never earned an official designation to this effect). The temple’s situation in Aravalli Hills in the Northwest also makes for a beautiful surrounding setting.
The Ladakh Monasteries
Ladakh is actually an entire region, and one known for a sparse population and some Tibetan influence. It’s a somewhat barren but beautiful place filled with mountains and lakes, and it’s home to several renowned monasteries. These are beautiful places of particular importance to Buddhists, but sought after as generally peaceful retreats also.
This temple in Bodh Gaya is arguably the most important religious site of any on this list, as it’s said to be the place where Buddha himself finally attained actual nirvana. Naturally it has become both a pilgrimage spot and a tourist destination as a result, and it’s a beautiful place to seek your inner peace. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Tirupati is the only site on this list that is actually a whole city, but it’s worth noting in its entirety. The main religious attraction is the Sri Venkateswara Temple, a popular Hindu pilgrimage location. However, the surrounding national park makes for a breathtaking spiritual retreat as well. As a fun note, there is also a zoological park in the area, where visitors can observe primates and lions, among other animals.
Vaishno Devi is effectively a sprawling Hindu shrine to the mother goddess MahaKali. It includes numerous temples and caves and is set on the side of a mountain that is something of a challenge to reach, at an elevation just over 1,500 feet. Vaishno Devi is in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, and makes for a serious pilgrimage for those with the will to reach it.