History of Religious Tourism

India is the birthplace of four of the world’s major religious traditions; namely Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism and Sikhism. Throughout its history, religion has been an important part of the country’s culture. A vast majority of Indians associate themselves with a religion.

According to the 2001 census, Hinduism accounted for 80.5% of the population of India. Islam (13.4%), Christianity (2.3%) and Sikhism (1.9%) are the other major religions followed by the people of India. This diversity of religious belief systems existing in India today is a result of, besides the existence and birth of native religions, assimilation and social integration of religions brought to the region by traders, travellers, immigrants, and even invaders and conquerors.

Indian Diaspora in the West has popularized many aspects of Hindu philosophy like yoga and meditation, Ayurvedic medicine, divination, vegetarianism, karma and reincarnation to a great extent. The influence of Indians abroad in spiritual matters has been significant as several organizations such as the Hare Krishna movement, the Brahma Kumaris, the Ananda Marga and others spread by Indian spiritual figures.

The Muslim population in India is the third largest in the world. The shrines of some of the most famous saints of Sufism like Moinuddin Chishti and Nizamuddin Auliya are in India and attract visitors from all over the world. India is also home to some of the most famous monuments of Islamic architecture like the Taj Mahal and the Qutub Minar. Civil matters related to the community are dealt with by the Muslim Personal Law, and constitutional amendments in 1985 established its primacy in family matters.

The Constitution of India declares the nation to be a secular republic that must uphold the right of citizens to freely worship and propagate any religion or faith (with activities subject to reasonable restrictions for the sake of morality, law and order, etc.) The Constitution of India also declares the right to freedom of religion as a fundamental right.

Citizens of India are generally tolerant of each other’s religions and retain a secular outlook, although inter-religious marriage is not widely practised. Inter-community clashes have found little support in the social mainstream, and it is generally perceived that the causes of religious conflicts are political rather than ideological in nature.


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