We often strike a spiritual tone in our lives to help ground ourselves. This leads to the understanding of the core of our existence and everything & everyone it entails. People have often sought such enlightenment through travel and adventure, which gave rise to the concept of spiritual tourism. Spiritually motivated tourists are an emerging niche and there has been a huge shift from the tradition of religious pilgrimage to travelling for personal spiritual growth. Spiritual tourism is based on a variety of motivations, ranging from traditional religious tourism to alternative medicine to forms of deep immersion in nature. The concept of modern tourism, however, has become the functional and symbolic equivalent of more traditional, spiritual practices such as festivals, pilgrimages, yoga and holy places.
One of the first challenges for those interested in “spiritual tourism” is defining exactly what it is. Believers taking part in religious pilgrimages such as Muslims doing the Hajj or Buddhists visiting the four sacred sites in India and Nepal are plainly recognized as “spiritual tourists”. But what about the hordes of tourists who visit say Notre Dame to admire her architecture and history – are they really spiritual tourists or is there a different category again for spiritual sightseers? It has been long recognized that a variable relationship exists between spirituality and tourism. Spiritual tourism can be defined as a specific type of tourism whose participants are motivated either in part or exclusively for peace reasons. At one extreme it is prescribed as sacred pilgrimage, a journey driven by faith, religion and spiritual fulfilment; at the other extreme it is prescribed as a tourist who may seek to satisfy some personal or spiritual need through tourism. Between these two points can be found different forms and intensities of spiritual tourism that are motivated to a greater or lesser extent by religious or cultural or knowledge-based needs.
India has been one of the richest centers of spirituality over the last four thousand years, while the tourism opportunities have developed gradually. India, being a secular country offers a haven, not only to one religion, but to all religions in the nation.
India has plenty to offer in terms of spiritual quests. You can explore a new way of travel, a discovery of the sacred world. You get a taste of eternal love and ideas about spirituality as you travel through India. This country is synonymous with the concept of ‘Atithi Devo Bhaba’ – which translates to “treat every visitor like God”. So, anyone who travels to the various spiritual destinations that India has to offer, gets a crux of the concept of being the respected guests to this mystical land of the Gita and the Upanishads. The plethora of temples, mosques, churches and monasteries in India are worth the visit as it entails a distinct sense of peace and serenity. Such experiences or journeys are bound to benefit you holistically in that it broadens your perspective, helps you find inner peace, exposes you to a confluence of cultures, can be educative, and teaches you Indian history and our cultural tradition.