GRANT ROONEY PREMIUM / Alamy
Aditi Datta
January 12, 2015

When I learned it in school, I didn’t know then how tightly I’d hold on to this fact: India is the birthplace of more religions than anywhere else in the world. Hinduism, of course, is strongly associated with India; it was also this soil that gave roots to Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism. With such a strong Mughal legacy in Delhi, we’re lucky to still see the traces of the Sufi saints in the curve of mosque domes. If you’re keen on catching the Buddhist trail, you can hop on to one of the tours that takes you down to Bodhgaya (where it all started), Rajgir, Sarnath, Lumbini, and Varanasi. If you’d rather stay put in Delhi, though, there are still a wide range of places where you can bow your head and pay your respects. Whatever your relationship with religion may be, Delhi’s religious sites provide inspiration to both the best and worst of us.

Baha’i Temple

With so few Baha’i houses of worship around the world, this temple is genuinely one of a kind. Built in the shape of a lotus flower with 27 free-standing marble petals, it is remarkable how the temple maintains its peaceful attitude, despite attracting as many visitors as the Eiffel Tower.

Akshardham Temple

Inspired by a temple of the same name in Gandhinagar, a visit to Delhi’s Akshardham might be more of an education in the Hindu religion than a pilgrimage of worship. Because it was opened in just 2005, it incorporates years of Hindu wisdom and contemporary temple grandeur. Sixty acres of statue-dotted lawns ensure that you’re never wanting for space. For a slightly more sedate temple experience, head to Jagannath.

Viceroy Church

Although its official name is the Cathedral Church of the Redemption, this church is better known by its most famous patron, the British Viceroy of the 1930s. The church was built to meet the spiritual needs of British officers during colonial rule, and was specially designed to stay cool, even during the summers, for that much-needed stillness of mind.

Gurdwara Bangla Sahib

Besides being a prominent house of worship for the Sikh faith, the cool marble and large pool of holy water found here is a sight for sore eyes any day of the week. This Gurdwara is associated with the eighth Guru, who provided aid and fresh water during the epidemics in the 1600s. The langar, or free kitchen, feeds people of all faiths; scarves to cover your head are provided if you haven’t brought your own. 

Nizamuddin Dargah

As the tomb of famous Sufi saint Hazrat Nizamuddin Auliya—as well as renowned poet Amir Khusro— this vibrant dargah, or shrine, keeps its Sufi origins alive with the tradition of musical qawwali in the evenings, which will strike a chord with anyone who visits. For a more traditional call to prayer, visit the stunning Jama Masjid, too.

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