West region of India consists of the three states of Goa, Gujarat, and Maharashtra and the two Union Territories of ‘Dadra and Nagar Haveli’ and ‘Daman and Diu’. The climate of the west region of India varies between tropical wet and dry, and semi-arid. The coastal regions experience little seasonal variations although the temperatures range between 20 °C to 38 °C. Mumbai and northern Konkan regions experience cooler winters with minimum temperatures hovering around 12 °C. Interior Maharashtra experiences hot summers with maximum temperatures averaging 40 °C and mild winters with minimum temperatures averaging about 10 °C. Gujarat also has a warm climate with hot summers and cold winters.
Western region of India is known for its rich culture and heritage, along with some of the most beautiful beaches. These esteemed and spiritual states and union territories are regularly visited by millions of devotees and tourists every year, from all over the world.
Maharashtra has an imperial culture with historically significant temples like the Siddhivinayak Temple, Mumbai. The temples which are contemplated as the dignity of Maharashtra are the Elephanta Cave Temple, Gharapuri, Kailasanatha Temple, Ellora, and Mumbadevi Temple, Bhuleshwar, Mumbai, etc. Goa, konown for its beautiful beaches, is also famous for Shri Shantadurga Temple, Shri Bhagvati Temple, and Shri Mahalaxmi Temple. Considering the vivid state of Gujarat, the most honorable exploration site for pilgrims in Gujarat is the Somnath Temple.
The pilgrimage site of Jains includes Palitan in Gujarat (dedicated to Lord Adinath, the first Tirthankara of Jainism,) Girnar Jain Temples in Gujarat, and the very famous Ajanta and Ellora cave temples in Maharashtra.
Famous towns of Gujrat like Vadnagar, Devnimori, and Junagadh are blessed with several Buddhism monasteries, temples, and hills. Hence, blooms are a significant pilgrimage for the Buddhists.
Gurdwara Lakhpat Sahib and Gurudwara Chadar Sahib in Gujarat, and Gurudwara Hazur Sahib in Maharashtra, are some of the prestigious pilgrimage centers, visited by lakhs of Sikh devotees every year.
Dadra and Nagar Haveli
Temples, Shrines and Spiritual Places in Dadra and Nagar Haveli
Dadra and Nagar Haveli are two unconnected regions separated by the industrial township of Vapi in Gujarat. Nagar Haveli is the larger of the two comprising the town of Silvassa. Silvassa is the capital of Dadra and Nagar Haveli.
Dadra and Nagar Haveli share its border with Gujarat to the north, Maharashtra to the south, and is close to the western coast of India.
Being near the coast, Dadra and Nagar Haveli has a typical north Indian Ocean maritime climate. The summers are hot and humid with temperatures reaching as high as 39 °C in the month of May. The monsoon starts in the month of June and extends until September.
Daman and Diu
Temples, Shrines and Spiritual Places in Daman and Diu
Daman and Diu consist of 2 separate areas geographically separated by the Gulf of Khambhat on the Arabian Sea coast of India. The Daman Ganga River flows through the coastal town of Daman. Diu is a small island and a mainland village. Daman is the capital city of the union territory of Daman and Diu.
Daman and Diu share its border with the state of Gujarat and the Arabian Sea. Vapi is the nearest railway station, about 12 kilometres from Daman, and Daman airport is the local airport.
Climate in Daman & Diu is subtropical, being closely located to the sea the weather is cool, calm, and breezy. In summer the temperature lies between 23 to 42 degrees while in springs and autumn it lies between 15 to 30 degrees.
Temples, Shrines and Spiritual Places in Goa
Goa is a kaleidoscopic picture of the rich cultural heritage that unfolds the glories of the past. It is an abode to beaches and greenery which induces inner peace of mind. Historical evidence proves that this island-state has been mentioned quite a few times in the ancient scriptures of Puranas as Gova, Gopakpatna and Govapuri.
The Saptakokeswar Mandir is one of the most important Hindu pilgrimages of Goa. Regarded as one among ‘the six main shrines of Shiva’ in the entire Konkan coast, the temple draws attention mostly due to its architectural grandeur, which took realms of art from both the Europeans. The idol of Lord Shiva is enshrined in the interiors of a wooden sanctum, inside the European style mandapa.
The Shanta Durga Temple is more than 450 years and is dedicated to Mother Durga. During religious and other festive occasions, the main idol is brought out for a grand procession. It is the only temple in the whole of Goa that indulges in pyramidal Shikhara, and Roman arched windows.
The Kamakshi Mandir, as its name suggests, is dedicated to Maa Kamakhya. The main idol of the Devi is composed of Salagrama shila, which makes the temple unique from other spiritual sites. Buddhist-pagoda-like structure and hooded serpents reveal the temple furnishing. The Mahadeva Temple, dating from the 12th century is known for its Kadamba-Yadava style, and intricate basalt stone shrines. Other temples such as the Brahma Temple, Mahalaxmi Temple, etc. ensure the spiritual fervor of the state.
Jainism flourished in Goa during the pre-Portuguese era, which is quite evident from several Jain temple excavations. The Neminath Jain Basti, located at Bandivade is one of the oldest Jain ruins. Archaeological evidence proves that reconstruction of inscriptions had been done in the 14th century. Dedicated to the 22nd Tirthankara, Lord Neminath, this magnificent spiritual structure remains one of the historical monuments composed of laterite rocks and grilled windows.
The Cudnem Jain Temple, built during the Vijayanagar era, is the earliest finest specimens of spiritual art. The Mukha Mandapa, which enshrined the idol, encloses within laterite floral arches, and side walls furnished with roof and tiles. The earliest excavated idol is that of a stone torso of a Jain Tirthankara, with carefully sculptured curls, and holding a ‘Srivasta symbol’. Historians believe that this temple had a huge contribution to the spread of Jainism, and encouraged Jain learning.
Jain Temples, constructed during recent times include the Digambar Jain Temple. Located in the Madgaon area of Goa, this temple enshrines the main idol of Lord Adinath. Dedicated to Lord Sumathinatha is the Swethambar Murthy Poojak Temple, which is also found in the Madgaon area.
Gurdwaras in Goa are a striking amalgamation of spiritual beauty and Sikh mysticism. The Gurdwara 3MTR, located in the Aquem-Baixo locality, offers shelter to every person who walks in. Auspicious langers are distributed among devotees every Sunday, and social work and religious learning is encouraged among devotees.
One of the most ancient surviving Buddhist pilgrimages of Goa is the Lamgao Caves. Located in the village of Lamgao, which essentially means ‘village of the Buddhists’, these rock cut caves used to house many Buddhist monks in the earlier days. The caves are also known for their secular outlook. The cave which is nearest to Lamgao, enshrines a stone Shivlinga, along with his carrier, Nandi. Natural springs, surrounding the caves exhibit the site as a natural wonder.
The Gurudwara Shri Guru Singh Sabha, founded in the year 1985, observes one of the quietest and spiritual ambiances in Goa. Devotees never miss a chance to seek blessings after the Shabad Kirtan every evening. Grand occasions are organized on the eve of Guruparab each year, and langers are distributed among people every day.
Goa is known as paradise on earth and famous for golden sun-kissed beaches, heritage sites, sea-food. It also exhibits Portuguese colonial architecture and culture. The piety and piousness of Goa shower its blessings upon all pilgrims.
Temples, Shrines and Spiritual Places in Gujrat
Geographically located along the west coast of the country, Gujarat is known for its rich cultural heritage, dance, and food. It is a land of contrasts, stretching from the seasonal salt deserts of the Kutch district in the northwest, to the wet, fertile, coastal plains of the south-eastern part of the state.
The name Gujarat is derived from Sanskrit words Gurjar (the local tribes of the region) and Rashtra (nation), literally meaning the Gurjar nation. Historically, the north region was known as Anarta, the Kathiawar peninsula as “Saurastra”, and the south as “Lata”. The state has traced back since the era of the Harappan civilization, to the ‘land of Krishna’, and the ‘exile of Rama’.
For Gujrat, Hinduism forms a way of life. One of the most ancient pilgrimages in Gujrat is the Somnath Mandir, located in the temple town of Somnath. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, the temple enshrines one, among the twelve prominent Jyotirlinga shrines. Legend suggests that Lord Krishna ended his ‘leela’ in this temple for seeking his ‘heavenly abode’.
According to some legends, the history of the temple-city Dwarka prevails from the days of Mahabharata. The city enshrines the first Jyotirlinga of the world’ at the Nageshvara Jyotirling Mandir. The Bhadkeswar Mahadev Mandir, dedicated to Lord Shiva is around 5000 years old, and is encompassed around a ‘self-manifested Shivlinga’.
The Dwarkadish Temple, considered a part of ‘Chardham Yatra’ is also located in this city. Dedicated to Lord Krishna, this temple is estimated to be more than 2500 years old. The Sandipani Mandir at Porbander resonates with the divine friendship between Lord Krishna and Sudama. Several other Hindu pilgrim sites, like the Gita Mandir, Bhalka Tirtha, Panch Pandav Guha, Kamnath Mahadev Temple graces the spiritual vend of minds.
Jainism had widely spread in Gujrat as the 22nd Jain Tirthankara attained his salvation here. Shri Girnar Tirth, located in the hills of Girnar, is one of the most important pilgrimages of the Jain community. Legend suggests that Lord Neminath, followed by his wife sat for penance in these hills after being upset with the butchering of animals. The first ‘Women’s Jain organization’ was also founded in those times.
The Plaitana Temple at Bhavnagar is a massive cluster of Jain temples, located on Shatrunjaya Hill in Palitana. This temple is of paramount religious significance as 23 Tirthankaras visited this temple, and blessed their devotees.
Some of the hill ranges are an abode of Jain Temples. The Taranga Hill at Mehsana is an amalgamation of both Digambara and Svetambar. The idol of Lord Adinath is deemed as the most important one. Footprints of 20 Tirthankaras present at the right side of the temple make it even more important.
More than 200 ancient monasteries have flourished in Gujrat. Perhaps the most influential Buddhist pilgrimages in the pages of Medieval History are the Uparkot Caves. Built by King Ashoka, these rock caves are carved out of Monolithic stone, and the interior rock paintings reveal episodes from Buddha’s life.
The Vadnagar Monastery, located in the Mehsana district, encapsulates a ’12-celled structure’, combining two stupas. During the 2nd-7th century, the monastery became an important center of Buddhist learning and sheltered more than 1000 monks. The interior follows a swastika-shaped architecture.
The Dev Ni Mori Stupa, built around the 2nd-3rd century upheld special status during Emperor Ashoka’s reign. Other Buddhist pilgrimages like the Dharanmata Temple, located in the ‘Taranga Hills’ attach historical and spiritual importance.
Gurdwaras are of paramount importance in the secular state of Gujrat. Lakhpat Gurudwara Sahib is one of the most revered locations for the Sikhs. Legends suggest that Guru Nanak, on his way to Mecca stayed in that place, which was later commemorated as a gurdwara. Gurudwara Shri Guru Teg Bahadur Sahib Ji, Gurudwara Chaadar Sahib, Nanakadi Gurudwara Sahib are other important Sikh pilgrim spots.
Gujrat is a resonance of spirituality, mysticism and is learning of a path of piousness. It is a place of exuberant beauty, which paints historical glimpses of India’s freedom struggle and upholds unique spiritual facets of culture and tradition.
Temples, Shrines and Spiritual Places Maharashtra
Maharashtra is the third largest and second-most populous state in India, blessed with diverse tourist places. Mumbai, the capital city of Maharashtra is home to the world-famous Bollywood film industry. The name Maharashtra is derived from the words “Maha” (great) and “Rashtra” (state”). The modern Marathi language of the state is developed from the ancient “Maharashtri Prakrit” language. Apart from being one of the prosperous states in India, Maharashtra is also known for rich history, religious diversity, and spiritual culture. It is also famous for its ancient caves of Ajanta and Ellora, mountain range of Western Ghats (Sahyadri), beautiful beaches of Arabian Sea, and pilgrimage destinations like Nashik and Shirdi.
Maharashtra is home to a diverse religious and spiritual sects. Siddhivinayak Temple in Mumbai and Dagdusheth Halwai Ganpati Temple in Pune and Ganpatipule Mandir in Ratnagiri, are some of the most famous Ganesha temples in Maharashtra. The temples of Ellora, the architecture marvels of largest rock-cut temples on Earth and recognized as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, showcases the monuments and artwork from Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism. The Kailash temple is Ellora is one of the oldest religious structures recognized for its sublime architecture.
Moving on from Aurangabad, Nasik is a prominent religious city in Maharashtra famous for hosting the Kumbh Mela that in held every twelve years, which holds spiritual significance in Hinduism. Trimbakeshwar temple near Nashik is an ancient temple and known as one of the 12 jyotirlingas of Lord Shiva. Not too far away from Nasik is the holy place of Shirdi, which is the birthplace of Sai Baba, a prominent religious figure. About 125 kms away from Nasik, Mangi-Tungi hills is another prominent place for religious tourism.
The Sach Khand Shri Huzur Sahib Gurdwara located in Nanded, is one of the most famous Gurudwara in Maharashtra. The structure is built at a place where the tenth Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh left his earthly life for heavenly abode.
Fairs and Festivals
Maharashtra cherishes the spirit of festivities with utmost delight and zeal. Ganesh Chaturthi is one of the grandest religious festivals celebrated in the state when a massive number of people gather on the streets to worship Lord Ganesha. It is an 11-day long festival and the most popular one in Maharashtra. The festival of Gokul Ashtami (also known as Janmashtami) is celebrated with great enthusiasm too. People form pyramids and climb up to break a clay pot full of butter and milk suspended high up in the air as a ritual. This ritual is known as dahi-handi and is practiced to honour beloved Lord Krishna.
Another occasion celebrated with great pomp and glitter is the festival of Gudi Padwa, which signifies the commencement of a prosperous year. Maharashtra encapsulates the spirit of celebrations by enjoying a diverse, bright, and vibrant festivals throughout the year.