Madurai Meenakshi temple
A drone shot Madurai Shri Meenakshi Sundareshwarar Temple. Photo: Shuttesrstock/Pranavan Shoots

Five Indian pilgrim sites you can visit by hopping on a train

Across the globe, India is one nation that is known to be the land of spirituality and where people truly value its culture. The country has worshippers in plenty and large groups of them often venture off from faraway corners for pilgrimage. India, being one of the most renowned places for pilgrimage tourism, also has one of the strongest rail networks for it.

Here are five pilgrims you can easily visit by rail and should absolutely check out if you're looking to connect with your spiritual side:

Venkateswara Temple - Tirumala & Venkatadri Express Trains (17487)

Amongst some of the most famous pilgrimage sites is the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple, located in the Tirupati city of southern state Andhra Pradesh. The site is so popular that it is visited by almost 60,000 devotees on an everyday basis. In order to reach the holy site by train, the pilgrims can board either the Tirumala Express or the Venkatadri Express.

Tirumala Venkateswara Temple. Photo: iStock/Lalam

Named after the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple, Tirumala Express is a train that shuttles between Visakhapatnam and Kadapa, covering a distance of 872 kilometers. On the other hand, the Venkatadri Express is also a popular train for the Tirumala pilgrimage and connects the Kacheguda in Hyderabad (Telangana) to Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh. Both trains are equipped with modern amenities to provide ease and comfort to travelers.

Meenakshi Temple - Tiruchendur Express (16105)

Lying in the temple town of Madurai, Tamil Nadu is the Meenakshi Amman Temple, which is a place of great religious importance. The temple is dedicated to the goddess Meenakshi, who is a form of Shakti, and her consort, Sundareshwarar, who is a form of Shiva. Throughout the year, devotees flock to Madurai to perform religious practice at the temple. The travellers use the popular train Tiruchendur Express, which stops at several major stations along the way, including Chengalpattu, Villupuram, Trichy, and Madurai. According to reports, the train covers a distance of around 700 kilometers.

Top pilgrimage destinations of South India
Meenakshi temple, Madurai. Photo: Shutterstock Images

Deoghar - East Coast Express(18045) and Simhapuri Express(12710)

Deoghar in Jharkhand is a crucial Hindu pilgrimage region and home to the Baidyanath Temple. Every year, between the months of July and August, 7 to 8 million devotees embark on the DeogharYatra, wherein they bring holy water from various areas of the Ganges. Some of the popular trains which carry these pilgrims from across the country are the 18045 - East coast Express and the 12710 - Simhapuri Express. Both the trains cover a distance of 1,586 kilometers and 643 kilometers respectively and are equipped with modern amenities for smooth travel.

Baidyanath Temple, Deoghar in Jharkhand. Photo: iStock/Greenfield and green lover

Shirdi - BZA SNSI Express(17208)

Everyone knows of Shirdi in Maharashtra as one of the most prominent religious sites. It is immensely famous for the Sai Baba Mandir, which is visited by thousands of devotees every day. Devotees can travel to the site by boarding the 17208 SainagarShirdi-Vijayawada (BZA SNSI) Express, which runs between Sainagar Shirdi and Vijayawada Junction. Travellers can enjoy facilities like air-conditioned coaches, food service, and onboard entertainment.

Shirdi Saibaba Mandir. Photo: iStock/yogesh_more

Varanasi - Kashi Vishwanth Express(15128)

Last but not least is the holy city of Varanasi, which is famous across the world for its Ghats and temples. Located on the banks of the River Ganga, considered sacred by Hindus, Varanasi is home to the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva and is one of the 12 Jyotirlingas.

The riverbanks of Varanasi on the evening of the Dev Diwali festival are filled with candles and lights, November 14, 2016. Photo: iStock/searagen

An important train that takes devotees to the sacred land of Varanasi is the Kashi Vishwanath Express, which is named after the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. The train operates daily while covering a distance of 794 kilometres. It offers first A/C, second A/C, third A/C, and sleeper-class coaches and pantry-car services and offers a very good running speed.

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