Kashmir, apart from its natural beauty, is also known for its many pilgrimage sites. The state has been influenced by the best traditions of Hinduism, Islam and Buddhism, and their syncretism can be seen in the many temples, mosques and Buddhist Gomphas dotting the landscape.
Amarnath is one of the most sacred sites of Hindus the world over. A pilgrimage to the Amarnath Caves is a test of faith, since it can be reached only by a long, arduous trek through mountainous territory. Hundreds of tourists trek every year to the natural "shivalinga" made of ice, thought to be a manifestation of the Lord Shiva.
The Hazratbal Shrine, one of the most revered sites of pilgrimage in Kashmir for Muslims, is as famous for its religious significance as the beauty of its architecture. The Hazratbal lies on the shores of the Dal Lake in Srinagar. It houses relics of the last Teacher of Islam.
Charar -e - Sharif
The Charar -e - Sharif is revered by Kashmiris, since it houses the relics of Sheikh Noor ud Din Wali, a popular Sufi saint of the Middle Ages. The shrine is a popular pilgrimage spot for Sufis in Kashmir, though equally revered by many of the Hindus in the state. The Shrine was destroyed during a battle between insurgents and the Indian Army in 1995, and was rebuilt to its former glory.
The Kheer Bhawani Temple is located 30 kilometers away from Srinagar. It is dedicated to the Goddess Ragnya Devi. It is one of the most sacred pilgrimage sites in Kashmir. The temple gets its name from the "kheer", or milk pudding, that pilgrims pour into the spring inside the temple complex as an offering to the Goddess. The temple's most famous festival is the Navaratras.
Vaishno Devi is another revered Hindu pilgrimage site in Kashmir. Located at 5,000 feet above sea level, the arduous trek to the Vaishno Devi Cave has never deterred the devout. The shrine, dedicated to the Goddess Durga, is located on the Trikuta Peak.