By Indian islands, we usually mean the Andaman and Nicobar islands and Lakshadweep islands. Talking about mainland India, there are many tiny uninhabited islands on the seashore that are famous for tourists. However, several small and big inhabited islands in India are significant sites of pilgrimage. And by islands, we mean both sea and river islands. Let us look at six holy islands in India that are renowned pilgrimage centre and tourist attraction.
1)Pamban Island :
Pamban island in Tamil Nadu is one of the holiest islands in Hinduism and one of the four centres of Char Dham yatra. Lakhs of pilgrimages throughout the year visit the sacred Shiva temple of Rameshwaram. Lord Rama also made his way to Sri Lanka from here. The island also contains an old mosque and is home to many Hindu, Muslim and Christian fishermen. It is connected to the mainland via a road bridge, a rail bridge, and a ferry service. The island of Pamban faced damages during the 1964 cyclone, after which the town of Dhanushkodi (literally means “end of bow”) got wiped out of the Indian map. Recently it has been restored and is a major tourist attraction for its surreal beauty.
2)Sagar Island :
The most sacred river of India, the Ganga, meets the sea here, and this is why this island is so important in Indian mythology. Also called Gangasagar island, Gangasagar pilgrimage holds high importance in Hindu tradition. Gangasagar Mela is considered the second-largest gathering in India, with more than 5 lakh devotees taking a bath on the day of Makar Sankranti. At present, transportation is via waterways only. This island in West Bengal is also one of the most populated islands in India, where the locals live on agriculture, tourism and fishery. The rest of the year, Gangasagar is a tranquil, relaxing place for anyone who wants to enjoy the beauty of a calm, quiet and pristine beach by the sea.
3)Beyt Dwarka :
Off the coast of Dwarka, a major pilgrimage centre and one of the Char Dham yatra lies the Beyt Dwarka island. Beyt Dwarka is one of the oldest inhabited islands of India, where remains of the Indus Valley Civilization has been found. It is also considered a holy site to visit during pilgrimage to Dwarka. At present, only ferry services are available from mainland Gujarat to the island. Some of the spots on the island are extremely beautiful, with the sea on three sides and is considered a backpackers’ heaven.
Srirangam island is a deltaic island in the Kaveri river. The island contains a big city, Tiruchirappalli, through which national highway and railway line from Chennai to Madurai passes. It doesn’t look like an island at first glance, but it is a long island with the Kaveri river in the north, and its first and largest distributary, the Kollidam river, in the south. It houses the world’s second-largest temple complex, the Ranganathaswamy temple and many other small temples. It is a significant pilgrimage place as well as a heritage site.
5)Omkareshwar island :
The west-flowing Narmada river contains the first of the twelve jyotirlingas of Shiva, the Omkareshwar temple. The island is named Mandhata after a king who was a devotee of Shiva and made Omkareshwar his capital. The island is shaped like the Devanagari letter “Om”, hence the name. Though the island can be approached only by ferry, nearby road and rail links are also available. To the north are the Vidhyas, while Satpuras dominate the south for nature-lovers.
6)Umananda island :
This is the smallest inhabited river island in the world, and it is located in the Brahmaputra river of Assam. The smallest river island is named after “Uma”, another name of Parbati, the wife of Shiva. Despite its size, it is very popular among the tourists who visit Guwahati city. Apart from being a sacred island and housing an old Shiva temple, Umananda island offers a beautiful cruise through the Brahmaputra river and is home to golden langur, an endangered species. Due to its shape from a distance, the island is also called peacock island.
So which one of them would you like to visit? Do mention in the comment section below.
Written by – Himadri Paul