Temples in ancient times were once social hubs where people congregated. They were also places where the arts, dance, music and combat were practiced and have been passed down for generations. Today, these temples remind us of our past and the architectural brilliance of craftsmen in those days.
India is a mixture of diverse cultures and religions. Characterized by different ideologies, traditions and rituals, the country has a place to worship in every corner. Since Hinduism is the main religion of India/Bharat followed by majority of the population. You will find temples with different styles and architecture all across the country.
1. Vaishno Devi Temple
Vaishno Devi is a form of Goddess Mahalakshmi and is also called Vaishnavi, Trikuta and Mata Rani. The temple is also one of the most visited shrines in the country with nearly 10 million people visiting every year. Instead of idols, the holy cave has three naturally formed rock heads, which are known as pindies. The pindies are said to be Vaishno Devi’s three forms — Maha Saraswati, Maha Lakshmi and Maha Kali.
Located on top of the Trikuta Mountains of Katra in the beautiful valley of Jammu and Kashmir, Vaishno Devi temple is a cave temple and one of the holiest pilgrim sites in India. Devotees usually walk from Katra to the temple. The trek is about 12 km long.
2. Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Uttar Pradesh
Located in the ancient city of Varanasi, Kashi Vishwanath temple is dedicated to Shiva. The temple is one of the holiest temples in India and the idol is one of the 12 jyotirlingas in the country.
The original Kashi Vishwanath temple was destroyed by Mughal emperor Aurangzeb and a mosque was built on the site. In 1780, Rani Ahilyabai Holkar of Indore commissioned to construct the temple, which you can see today. The temple is situated on the western bank of the holy Ganga River.
Kashi Vishwanath finds a mention in Hindi scriptures and texts like Skanda Purana and many great men like Adi Shankaracharya, Gurunanak Dev and Swami Vivekananda have visited this temple in the past. The temple is famous for its aarti, which is one of the most stirring experiences you can have on your trip.
3. Mahabodhi Temple, Bihar
For people following Buddhism, this temple is the most revered site as it is said to be the places where Gautam Buddha attained enlightenment. People from across the world visit the Mahabodhi temple.
Located in the district of Gaya in Bihar, Mahabodhi temple is a Buddhist temple and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The temple is one of the oldest brick structures from the Gupta period. It was built in 7th century but has undergone many restoration and repair works. The last restoration work was carried out by the Burmese King and Archeological Survey of India.
4. Akshardham, New Delhi
Akshardham was presented with a Guinness World Record certificate for being the largest comprehensive Hindu temple in the world. The temple was built by 11,000 artisans and thousands of Bochasanwasi Shri Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha (BAPS) volunteers and was inaugurated on November 6, 2005 by late APJ Abdul Kalam.
Located in the New Delhi, Swaminarayan Akshardham complex or Akshardham is a Hindu temple dedicated to Swaminarayan. Akshardham means the abode of God. It is a spiritual-cultural campus dedicated to learning, harmony and devotion. A visit to Akshardham is a journey through 10,000 years of glorious art of the country.
Rajasthani pink sandstone and white Italian Carrara marble were used to build the temple, which features 234 beautifully carved pillars, nine ornate domes, a spectacular Gajendra Pith (plinth of stone elephants) and 20,000 statues.
5. Somnath Temple, Gujarat
Throughout the history, Somnath temple has been destroyed and rebuilt many times. It was plundered by Mahmud of Ghazni in 1025 AD. The temple was last restored by the then Deputy PM of India Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel in 1947 after the integration of Junagadh. As a mark of honor for his contribution towards the restoration of the temple, a statue of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel has been placed in front of the temple.
It is believed that the temple is also the place where the sacred Saraswati River meets the sea.
Located in Junagadh district in Gujarat, Somnath temple is one of the 12 jyotirlingas in India. Somnath means ‘Lord of Moon’. The temple is dedicated to Somnath, who was known as Shrilingeshwar in Dwapar yug, Shravanikeshwar in Treta Yug and as Bhairaveshwar in Sat Yug. It is an important religious and tourist site.
6. Meenakshi Amman Temple, Tamil Nadu
The temple is built as per the Shilpa Shastra, the ancient Indian building manual. According to a legend, originally the temple was constructed in the 6th century by the survivors of Kumari Kandam, a mythical lost continent. As per Hindu scriptures, the shrine was built by Hindu Deity Indra to atone his misdeeds.
Located on the banks of Vaigai River in Madurai, Meenakshi Amman temple or Meenakshi temple is dedicated to goddess Parvati in the form of Meenakshi and Shiva as Sundareshwar. This Hindu temple has the largest temple complex in Tamil Nadu.
The temple was looted in the 14th century by Malik Kafur, the Mughal Muslim Commander.
After the temple was destroyed by the commander, only the shrines of Sundaresvara and Meenakshi were intact. The temple was rebuilt in the 16th century by Vishwanatha Nayakan, who was a Nayak ruler.
7. Tanot Mata Temple, Rajasthan
Tannot Mata is a temple in western State of Rajasthan in District Jaisalmer of India. As per the oldest Charan literature Tannot Mata is the avatar of divine goddess Hinglaj Mata. The village is close to the border with Pakistan, and is very close to the battle site of Longewala of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971.
It is said that during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965, Pakistani Army dropped over 3000 bombs targeting the temple but not even one exploded. The Pakistani Tank regiment was stunned at this and kept shelling but not one bomb exploded. After the war the Pakistani General actually asked his counterpart in India about this incident and on knowing the story of the power of the temple that apparently protected the area he asked to see this place. This request was granted and the Pakistani General actually went to the temple and paid his respects and acknowledged the supernatural happening. After the war the temple management was handed over to Border Security Force of India on their request and to date the temple is maintained and manned by the BSF soldiers.
8. Kanyakumari Amman Temple, Tamil Nadu
Devi Kanya Kumari is goddess Shree Bhagavathy in the form of an adolescent girl child. She is popularly known as “sakthi” (Durga or Parvati) “Devi”. The Bhagavathi Temple is located in Cape Kanya Kumari in Tamil Nadu, at the southern tip of main land India, there by located on the confluence of the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Sea, and the Indian Ocean. She is also known by several other names, including Kanya Devi and Devi Kumari.
She is also worshiped as Shree Bhadrakali by devotees. Sage Parashurama is said to have performed the consecration of the temple. The goddess is believed to be the one who removes the rigidity of our mind; devotees usually feel the tears in their eyes or even inside their mind when they pray to the goddess in devotion and contemplation. Kanyakumari Temple is one of the 51 Shakti Peetham. It is believed that the spine area of Sati’s corpse fell here in this region.