Religion is an intrinsic part of life of Indians. This is what in a way gives them an identity and also becomes a basis of their day to day lifestyle. However, a secular country that India is, it is not just one religion that is practised here. The people here are a healthy mix of different religions and know how to co exist peacefully. The most important religions that are practised in India are Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Sikhism, Jainism and Buddhism.

Hinduism - The dominant religion of India, Hinduism is practised by around 80.5% of the total population. The religion had its birth in India itself and draws its name from 'Sindhu', a name by which river Indus is known to the Indians. Three principle deities who are worshipped in India are Lord Brahma (the creator), Lord Vishnu (the preserver) and Lord Shiva (the destroyer). Other popular deities include Lord Ram, Lord Krishna, Goddess Lakshmi, Goddess Devi, Lord Hanuman and Lord Ganesh. A number of festivals are celebrated in India to honour these gods and goddess, most important amongst which are Diwali, Duesshra, Shivratri, Ganesh Chaturthi, Shri Krishna Janamashtmi and Lakshmi Puja.

 For travellers wishful of exploring Hinduism in India, the worth visiting destinations include Haridwar, Gangotri, Yamontri, Kedarnath, Badrinath, Ayodhya,Varanasi, Mathura-Vrindavan, Gaya, Tirupati, Amarnath, Rameshwaram, Pushkar, Vaishnodevi, Shirdi, Dwarka and Mahabalipuram. Details about these cities and other significant Hindu cities are provided in Wikipedia.

Islam - With around 13.4% of population followers, Islam is the second largest religion in India. Infact, it is not just the second largest religion in India, it is also the second largest religion in the world. The religion is based on the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad. The Muslims, as the followers of Islam, do not consider the prophet as the  creator of new religion. Rather, they look upon him as the restorer of the original pure faith of Adam, Abraham and others.

Few of the Muslim religious sites in India include Ajmer in Rajasthn, Jama Masjid and Hazrat Nizammudin Auliya in Delhi, Dargah of Haji Ali in Mumbai,Chrar-e-Sharif and Hazratbal Mosque in Jammu Kashmir.

Christianity - The third largest religion in India, Christianity has approximately 2.3% of population following it. It is believed that the first conversion to the religion, in India, was carried out by St Thomas, one of the twelve apostles of the Jesus and a Jew by birth. As of today, the major part of the Christian population in India is found in South India, Konkan Coast and the tribal belts of east, central and north east India. Christmas, the most important festival of the Christians, is celebrated with much fervour in entire country, and not just by the followers of the religion themselves. 

The churches of Goa - Basilica of Bom Jesus, Church and Convent of St Francis of Assissi, Church of Lady of Rosary, Se Cathderal - are a huge crowd puller. Not only Christians, but people from other religion too pour in large number to explore these churches  and convents of Goa that have attained the status of world heritage sites. Apart from Churches of Goa, the The Santa Cruz Basilica of Kochi, St. John'S Church in Wilderness of Dharamshala,St. Joseph'S Cathedral of Hyderabad and The Christ Church of Kasauli are also well known visited sites by the Christians.

Sikhism - Around 1.9% of the total Indian population in India is the follower of Sikhism. The religion, like Hinduism, took birth in India, Punjab to be specific, around 1500 CE. The founder was Guru Nanak Dev ji. The tenth Guru of the Sikhs, Shri Guru Gobind Singh Ji was the founder of the Khalsa faith that today encomapsses all Sikhs. The holy text of the Sikhs, The Guru Granth Sahib, was first compiled by Guru Arjan Singh, the fifth Guru of the Sikhs and was subsequently added upon by the rest of the four Gurus. Guru Parabs or the festivals linked to the revered Gurus of the Sikhs are the most important dates in Sikh Calendar. Guru Nanak Jayanti and Guru Gobind Singh Birthday are thw two of these. The martyrdom of Guru Arjan Singh and Guru Tegh Bahadur are the other two days that are significant for the Sikhs.

For tourists coming to India with an intention of visiting Sikh sites, the Golden Temple of Amritsar should be the first stop. Apart from it, the Gurudwara Bangla Sahib in New Delhi, the Paonta Sahib in Sirmour( Himachal Pradesh), Hemkund Sahib in Joshimath (Uttaranchal) and Gurudwara Kiratpur Sahib in Ropar (Punjab) are the other worth visiting sacred Sikh sites. BBC and Sikhs.org have a good coverage on the religion.

Buddhism - Based on the teachings of Lord Buddha, Buddhism is one of the minor, nonetheless important religion in India. The religion had its origin in Bodh Gaya, Bihar. It was this place where Lord Buddha, who was a originally a prince of the Sakya clan, attained enlightenment. Bodhgaya is one of the four holy sites in Buddhism, the other three being Lumbini - the birthplace of Lord Buddha, Sarnath- the place where he first delivered his sermon and Kushinagar - where he attained mahaparinirvana. A reference to Emperor Ashoka is inevitable while talking about Buddhism. He was an ambitious king who later renounced violence in favour of peace and harmony. He is credited for the rise and spread of Buddhism not only in India but also in other parts of the world.

The Buddhist temples and monasteries are prime attractions for tourists in India together with the Buddhist caves and stupas. The Mahabodhi temple, the Mahabodhi tree, the Hemis Monastery, the Ajanta Ellora caves, the Sanchi Stupa should be on the must visit list of the travellers to India. A complete listing of Buddhist cities, temples, monasteries and sites can be found on Buddhist Tourism.

Jainism - Jainism originated in India and is based on the teachings of the Tirthankaras. Mahavira, the 24th Tirthankara, established the central tenets of Jainism.  Mahavir Jayanti, the most important festival of the Jain community, celebrates the birthday of Lord Mahavira.

 A recent survey conducted by Times of India, a leading newspaper of India, on the seven wonders of India declared  that the Sravanbelagola in the Hassan district of Karnataka, with its 17.38 metre high stone statue of Bahubali, bagged the top spot. The ancient town of Sravanabelagola is a Jain religious centre.