There is a proverb in Gujarati – “ફરે તે ચરે, બાંધ્યો ભૂખે મરે….”; this line is an upshot of the wisdom & experience of our ancestors regarding the practical aspects of the life; and I think the tourism industry also originated from the central idea of this line.
Tourism is an industry where there is a sequential channel for promoting hang out places, historical places, ancient monuments, finest art & craftsmanship, etc; managing lodging boarding of the tourists and thereby creating the source of employment for the regional people.
Gujaratis have a deep sense of affection to the rituals and holy places of our culture; as a result of that a huge number of people have being recorded every season for visiting such places. Because of this inclination the concept of spiritual tourism has come into picture.
Spiritual tourism is all about the “યાત્રા” or “તીર્થ યાત્રા” in the simplest term. Even in our ancient volumes and religious books also it is advised to visit the holy places to pay our debt and tribute to god and have his divine blessings on us. If we talk about Gujarat, it has the wide and rich heritage in terms of religion, virtues and cultural aspects. We have so many holy places across the state which has the historical, geographical, religious, social or cultural significance. Especially the regions of Gujarat known as Saurashtra & Kathiyawad – are considered the divine land as there a lot of holy places like temples, ashrams, mathas, etc and they have a rich folklore full of anecdotes and legends of god’s incarnations and various “અવતારી પુરુષ”. If just focus on the major popular places then they are as mentioned below:
Akshardham temple, Gandhinagar
This is the temple of lord vishnu’s incarnation Shree Swaminarayan bhagwan built by swaminarayan sect. This is one of the biggest swaminarayan temples across the world. It is situated in the capital of Gujarat – Gandhinagar. This temple has the world class engraving of Indian cultural, historical incidents, gods’ & goddess’ monuments, the biography of lord shri swaminarayan, etc. It also has the big circuit house cum guest house for the pilgrimage coming across the world. It has the big convention hall for doing prayers, arranging sabha – religious discussions, programmes of religious leaders, etc. There is also a provision of almonry to feed the poor people. This temple was targeted for the terrorist attack on 24th September, 2002 in which 33 people died and 70+ injured. The defense forces freed the temple by giving a tough fight to terrorists, still this incident of extreme terror could not harm the charm of this temple and the recorded devotees and numbers of visitors are increasing year by year.
Ambaji temple, Banaskantha
One of the biggest hub of tenet, faith and worship of goddess Amba. It is also known as leading “શક્તિ પીઠ” from all over 51 such other monuments as mentioned in the volumes. An ancient Ambaji temple is situated on the top of the mountain Gabbar in Banaskantha district’s data town. This is the only temple with more than 358+ “સુવર્ણ કળશ”. Moreover now days the peak of the temple is also planned to cover with the Gold with the contribution of millions of devotees across the globe. In the holy temple of “Arasuri Ambaji”, there is no image or statue of goddess the holy “Shree Visa Yantra” is worshiped as the main deity. No one can see the Yantra with naked eye. The photography of the Yantra is prohibited.
Shree Jalaram Temple, Virpur
Shri Jalaram, also known as Jalaram Bapa, is believed to be an “અવતારી પુરુષ” and a big worshiper and follower of Lord Shree Rama. It is believed that he has devoted his entire life in serving the needy and poor people and there are number of anecdotes associated with his biography for miracles seen in social service and welfare of mankind. This is also one of the richest temple boards in Gujarat. They have stopped taking the offerings, donations, contributions from the devotees so far still they are able to run the almonry for millions of people on daily basis.
Shree Krishna temple, Dakor & Dwarika
Raja Ranchhod (Shree Krishna) has two magnificent temples – one in Dakor, near Baroda District & another in Dwarika near the costal line of north Gujarat. These two temples are the main centres of tenet of faith & devotion of Krishna lovers. There are people who regularly go to either of these temples on day of Poornima every month. It is also believed that after every successful yatra or pilgrimage, one must visit Dakor and do darshan of shree Ranchhodji.
Kalika mata temple, Pavagadh
One of the most popular and famous temples is Kalika mata temple. Kalika Mata Temple (means “the great black Mother”) is a Hindu goddess temple complex and pilgrim centre at the summit of Pavagadh Hill in Panchmahal district, India, within the Champaner-Pavagadh Archaeological Park. It dates from the 10th or 11th centuries. The temple has three images of goddesses: the central image is of Kalika Mata, the image on the right is of Kali and on the left is of Bahucharamata. The temple is the site of one of the Great holy Shakti Peethas. One can reach easily to temple by rope-way.
Lord Shiva temple – Somnath
Somnath is the biggest holy place of Gujarat. The Somnath temple located in Prabhas Patan near Veraval in Saurashtra. It is the first among the twelve Jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva. This marvelous temple has several times been destructed by Islamic emperors and then rebuilt by Hindu devotees. This is the great epicenter of faith and devotion towards lord Shiva.
These are the major and leading destinations for the spiritual tourism, but the list doesn’t end here, it has more splendid destinations as mentioned below which have always attracted the devotees cross the country. Few of them are Girnar temple of Junagadh, Palitana jain temple, Sun temple from modhera known for best architecture, Mataji no madh from kutch, Jesal Toral Samadhi in Anjar, kutch’s Kado dungar (black hill), Chamunda mata temple in Chotila, Ranuja na raja, etc and many more. Indeed Gujarat has the rich culture in spiritual tourism.