Any templeseeker simply must visit India – it’s so diverse and spiritual. It is possible to find Buddhist temples, Sikh temples and Hindu temples in India. It’s one of the toughest place that I’ve ever travelled, but oh so worth it for the temples. Here’s my top 10 Famous Indian Temples that you shouldn’t miss.
Location: Shirdi, Maharashtra
Devoted to Saint Sai Baba, Shirdi Temple is the third richest temple in India. The whole religious town Shirdi is identified through Sai Baba. Sai Baba, the saint who is known and admired for his miracles and teaching give importance to Shraddha meaning trust and Saburi meaning tender feeling. Masses of enthusiasts, despite of their religion, come to the temple every year. The main festivals celebrated here are Ramanavami, Guru Purnimaand Vijayadashmi. Not only in India, Sai Baba’s admirers have extent the Shirdi Sai Movement in the Caribbean and other foreign countries like USA, Malaysia, Singapore, UAE and Australia. Tourist can also plan a weekends getaway from Mumbai to Shirdi.
Tirumala Venkateswara Temple
Location: Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh
One of the most visited temples in India is the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple, which is devoted to Lord Venkateswara who is an epitome of Lord Vishnu. Visited by about 50,000 to 100,000 devotees frequently, the temple is admired not only for its religious belief, but its Dravidian architecture and inscriptions. The temple wall has multiple inscriptions and the mark of various empires like the Cholas, Pandyas, Pallavas and Yadavarayas amongst the rest of the leading empires of the time. Not only this, here in the temple, devotees perform many fascinating rituals such as Thulabharam, Arjitha Seva and Head Tonsuring to please the god. The main festivals celebrated here are Vaikuntha Ekadasi, Ramanavami, Janmashtami, Rathasaptami and Vasanthotsavam. The Brahmotsavam is the most important festival held every year in the month of September with full passion and enthusiasm.
Ramana thaswamy Temple
Location: Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu
Tamil Nadu is full of Famous Indian Temples and a fantastic place to see the colourful Tamil style. One of the 12 Jyotirlinga of Lord Shiva, this temple is also part of the Char Dham. Ramanathaswamy Temple, which is devoted to Lord Shiva is a temple for both Vaishnavites (devotees to Lord Vishnu) and Shaivites (devotees to Lord Shiva).
There are many myths linked with the temple. It is believed that, here Lord Rama prayed to Lord Shiva for all sins he may have committed during the war with Ravana. And for this Lord Rama sent Hanuman to bring lingam from the Himalayas. His wife Sita made a small lingam which preserved as main deity in the temple. Mostly there are two lingams in the temple, one made by Sita known as Ramalingam and the other brought by Hanuman known as Viswalingam. The main festivals celebrated at this temple are Mahashivratri and Navratri.
Location: Dwarka, Gujarat
Aa a part of the Char Dham, Dwarkadhish Temple is devoted to Lord Krishna. Placed on the banks of River Gomti, Dwarkadhish temple has a 5-storied building which is maintained by 72 pillars which captivate tourists all round the world. Mainly the temple has two doors for exit and entry. The entry door is known as Swarg Dwar (gateway to heaven) and the exit door is known as Moksha Dwar (gateway to salvation). However, there are some features that appeal devotees such as a flag fixed on top of the temple shows both the moon and the sun (this flag is altered five times a day). Last but not least the compactness of the temple and its surroundings has won it a nomination in the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.
Location : Katra, Jammu
Located at an altitude of 5200 ft. in a mountain, Vaishno Devi Temple is devoted to the goddess Shakti. One of the 51 Shakti Peethas, Vaishno Devi temple has three rock heads, known as Pindies, rather than of a statue. Millions of pilgrims flock here to take the blessings of Maa Vaishno Devi. It’s believed that Maa Vaishno Devi decides and calls her pilgrims to her doorsteps. A successful trip to this temple is possible only because of the Maa’s wish. The temple is open all year round. The main festival celebrated here are Navratri.
Location: Puri, Odisha
A part of Char Dham, Jagannath Temple is devoted to Lord Krishna. In the main Jagannath Temple, you find the idols of Goddess Subhadra (sister) and Lord Balabhadra (brother). The key feature that appeals visitors is the idols of the Jagannath temple which are different from any other temples of the country. With diverse complexions and large eyes, the idols are made by a unique kind of wood called the Daru Brahma (located by the main temple preacher once every 12 years).
The main festival celebrated here is the Rath Yatra. On this Rath Yatra, every idol is taken on a ride on chariots that captivate millions of tourists and pilgrims from all over the world. There are many conditions on entering the temple. Only Hindus of Indian origin are permitted to enter the interiors and other practicing Hindus of foreign nationalities are restricted. Jain and Buddhist groups are acceptable inside if they can give proof of their Indian origin.
Location: Amritsar, Punjab
A temple seeking tour of India is unfinished without visiting the Golden Temple probably the best known of the famous Indian Temples. The Golden temple is the highest known religious place for Sikhs. Its four doors open in four main directions and welcome any religion or faith.
The temple’s architecture encircled picturesque Sarovar and the divine lake that is believed, to reside holy water or Amrit, adds to the reputation of the temple building. Last but not least don’t miss the langar where thousands of pilgrims are fed regularly. The main festival celebrated here are Guru Nanak Jayanti and Baisakhi.
Kashi Vishwanath Temple
Location: Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
One of the 12 Jyotirlinga of Lord Shiva Kashi Vishwanath Temple is devoted to Lord Shiva. It is believed that by coming Kashi Vishwanath temple and taking a dip in the divine water of Ganga River, devotees will free from all the sins and get moksha (salvation). Some others believe that the blessings taken by coming Kashi Vishwanath and witnessing the jyotirlinga are equal to the blessings got from the darshan of the 11 other jyotirlingas. The main festival celebrated here is Mahashivratri.
Not far away from the Kashi Vishwanath Temple, you can also attend the famous Ganga Aarti in the nearby Dashashwamedh Ghat as well as Assi Ghat. This one of its kind spiritual experiences will leave your soul cleansed. The daily aarti, which is a sensory delight, happens every evening.
Meenakshi Amman Temple
Location: Madurai, Tamil Nadu
Positioned on the bank of the River Vaigai, Meenakshi Amman Temple is one of the oldest and largest temples of India. Around a 2500-year-old temple, it is devoted to Meenakshi, an avatar of the Goddess Parvati and Lord Shiva.
There are multiple features that attract pilgrims and tourists from all over the world. Its outstanding vimanas, various minor quadrangular complexes, 14 gopurams or 170 feet (52 meters) high southern tower, musical pillars, hall of 1000 pillars, parrot cage and golden lotus tank are some captivating highlights of the temple. If you want even more, you can go to see the in-house museum that goes into depth about its 2500-year-old history.
Location: Ajmer, Rajasthan
Last but not least of the Famous Indian Temples is Dargah Sharif – the holy place of the saint Moinuddin Chisti is the most commonly visited pilgrimage place in Ajmer. Thousands of pilgrims flock here to offer a flower on Moinuddin Chishti’s tomb for completion of their wishes. It is also believed that all wishes come true by tying a thread at the shrine, and yeah don’t forget to be taken off the thread once the wish comes true.
Dargah also has exquisite Mughal architecture, wonderful qawwalis and the divine scent of incense sticks all around offer intense peace to pilgrims. The main festival celebrated here is annual Urs, a six-day festival which is held on the honour of the Sufi saint.