India is a land of diversity. India is a land of varied cultures. India is a land of festivals. And then India is a land of temples.
From the hilly areas of Himalayas to the mountains of Ladakh to the forgotten villages of Tamil Nadu to the caves of Maharashtra or else in the deserts of Rajasthan. Temples are everywhere. Every street in India has temples. From smaller ones to bigger ones. People in India are very religious and most follow their religion avidly.
Then there are festivals where people come together and organize pandals to worship god as a part of yearly festivals. As such as Mumbai’s Ganesh Chaturthi and Kolkata’s Durga Puja are the most famous.
Many people also go on extreme levels in their belief of God in India. Some walk as much as 25-30 days to visit a temple from their hometown. Some people leave everything that they have and become sadhus. Whereas some have vowed to stand in the rest of their life – Khareshwari or Standing Baba.
It would not be wrong to say that India is the most religious and spiritual place in the world. To this, let me bring forward to you the most amazing temples of India. Below is the list of 20 of the most famous temples in India along with magnificent photos.
1| Meenakshi Amman Temple – Madurai Largest Temple of India
The name synonymous with the name of Madurai. Madurai’s Meenakshi temple is considered to be the largest as per the size and the area.
It is the most famous temple of Tamil Nadu. There are nearly 14 gopurams or gateways that are so magnificently carved with beautiful paintings adorn the walls, and thousands and thousands of stone figures. Out of the fourteen towers, though only four are the major ones and are on all sides i.e the southern, eastern, western, and northern tower are the spectacular ones.
It is a beautiful temple and one of the oldest in India which dates back its establishment to the sixteenth century.
2| Golden Temple – Amritsar Holiest Shrine of Sikhism
Golden temple or the Harmandir Sahib is considered as the holiest shrine in Sikhism.
Scores of people from all over the world and from all religions come to visit it. The temple is gold plated and the interiors is decorated with marvelous architecture that will take your breath away.
The annual harvest festival of Baisakhi attracts tens of thousands of people and is celebrated with great warmth and intensity. Also other festival such as Diwali is also celebrated with great excitement.
If you watch Bollywood movies then you might know that it also has been shown in many of them. Besides its the home for the largest free eatery, or more commonly known as Langar (community kitchen) where people from any religion irrespective of their caste, creed, poor or rich can come and eat for free. Nearly as much as 50,000 eat here daily and as much as one lakh on weekends.
3| Sai Baba – Shirdi One God governs all
With the message of Sabka Malik Ek Hai (One God Governs All), Sai Baba came in the small village of Shirdi. He thought that there is one god and taught people to love, be kind, to help others selflessly.
Hindus and Muslims and people from all religions are devotees of Sai. The temple located at Shirdi is one of the major places of worship in Maharastra.
People from more than 300-400 Km come walking as a yearly padyatra (Travel by Walk) from their place. Don’t be surprised to see people aged 80 and children aged as less as 8 to take padyatras.
4| Vaishno Devi Mandir – Katra Mother Goddess at the top of the Hill
This is dedicated to Mata Vaishnaw Dewi and is one of the most visited temples in India. And to state a fact it is the second most visited temple of India. It is located at about at an height of 5200 feet above the land.
The temple is very significant among Hindus and most of Hindus try and visit it at least once in a lifetime.
If you are planning to visit then it is mandatory to take the Yatra Registration Card (YRC) or Parchi. The YRC is available free of cost at the Katra bus station which also happens to be the nearest bus stop. YRC can also be obtained online from the official website by paying Rs. 50 per person.No private parties can issue the YRC.
5| Tirumala Venkateswara – Tirupati Most Visited Temple of India
The most visited temple of India also happens to be the most visited place of worship in the world. All this while it was considered as the most wealthiest temple of the world until a treasure was found at the Sree Padmanabhaswamy in Kerala.
People here come over with every wish; some with a wish to get wealth, some to donate their wealth, some in a wish to get a child, some come and conduct their marriage here.
It gets nearly 50,000 daily visitors and annual of 40 million visitors. Devotees offer huge amount of cash and gold over here. As an estimate the annual gold offered here is more than 3000 kg.
6| Shravana Belgola – Hassan Tallest Free Standing Statue of the World
Shravana Belgola is the name of the place where the tallest monolithic statue of the world stands. But there are also many other statues that are taller than this one such as Hanuman Murti at Paritala, Andhra Pradesh.
This is one of the most sacred places of Jainism. Sharavana Belgola or Sravanabelgola as it may be pronounced has two hills namely Vindyagiri and Chandragiri. The statue is located at the Vindyagiri hills. It is a 57 feet tall statue.
Mahamasthakabhisheka is a festival which takes place every twelve years where the statue is embrocated with milk, oil, ghee, sandalwood etc. Lakhs of people visit for this festival. The ceremony last took place in 2006 and the next is scheduled in 2018.
7| Chennakesava temple – Belur 11th Century Wonder
This one at Belur and the Hoysaleswara Temple at Halebidu are very near to Shravan Belgola. Actually whoever visits Shravan Belgola does visit the Chennakesava and the Hoysaleswara temple.
It is definitely one of the finest examples of excellence in architecture. Build in the 11th century and still stands tall perfectly fine.
It is actually a complex with the Chennakesava temple at the centre flanked by many smaller ones on its left and right.
8| Hoysaleswara Temple – Halebidu The Incomplete Marvel
Not far from the Chennakesava temple is another marvelous piece of architecture again belonging to the erstwhile empire of the Hoysala which ruled most of south India in the 10th to the 14 century.
Legend has is that this was never completed as every time the construction started it was attacked from evaders from north India.
Though it may be incomplete but the beauty and eloquence of the structure is mind boggling. It is dedicated to Lord Shiva and has numerous other finely carved statues and pillars. Go back in time and visit the ancient town of Halebidu.
9| Sabarimala – Kottayam Place of Largest Annual Pilgrimage – 50 Million Pilgrims
The sabarimala temple is situated surrounding 18 hills. This is the place for largest annual gathering of pilgrims. It is not opened round the year but only for 41 days between the month of November and December, the day Makar Sankranti, the Vishu, and first six days of every Malayalam month.
For the annual pilgrimage, lakhs of devotees take 41 day fast and refrain from any material belongings. The fast observed is one of the toughest and devotees are required to abstain from alcohol, sex (not even touching a woman is permitted), they are allowed only eat food one time and to take bath twice.
Women in their menstrual age are not allowed here.
10| Murugan Temple – Palani Lord Karthik’s Abode
The temple located at a small town of Palani much famous for its temple than anything else. It is one of the six abode’s of Lord Karthik. Most importantly the foremost than any other abode of Lord Karthik. Other famous being the one at Thiruchendur
There is a short little fascinating story about how He choose Palani as his abode. I know many Hindus might have heard this before but still let me go in to this a bit further. It happens that Narad muni brings with himself a fruit, the fruit of wiseness to gift it to lord Shiva. But lord Shiva as an affectionate father thinks to divide the fruit between two of his sons: Lord Ganesha and Lord Karthik. But Narada muni was against it.
So Lord Shiva advised that whoever of the two sons returns first circling the world thrice will get the fruit. Quickly, Lord Karthik started to circle the world on his peacock. But Ganesha instead decided to circle their parents thereby declaring that my world is only you: my parents. Thus lord Shiva awarded the fruit to Ganesha which didn’t went down well with Karthik. So He decided to leave the mountains of Kailash and took his abode in Palani.
11| Temples of Kumbakonam The Temple Town
Kumbakonam is a temple town and there are many famous ones here. Some of the most visited of them are the temple of:
1. Adi Kumbeswarar
5. Kasi Viswanathar
9. Temples at Thirunageswaram
14. Thiruvalanjuzhi Vinayakar
15. Sri Vijayeendra Tirtha Moola Brindavanam
16. Sri Sitaram Bhavani Sankarar
17. Sri Rama Bhajanai Sabha
18. Thirbuvanan Sarabeswarer
12| Rameshwaram, Ramanathapuram Southern Dham
Yes, the Banaras of south. Part of the Char Dham pilgrimage.
Located at the very end of the Indian Peninsula separated from mainland India. Road as well as rail bridge is there to commute.
Just travelling to the temple will be a fulfilling experience and to actually visit it a much cherished one.
According to Hindu mythology Lord Rama built a bridge over here to rescue Sita from Ravana. Till date the shorelines are also very quiet (unlike other shorelines where huge waves takes place) as it was promised to Lord Rama by the sea god to pave the way for building the bridge.
13| Sun Temple, Konark Truly a Wonder
Now this one doesn’t need any introduction. This temple has been awarded a UNESCO world heritage site. Also it was among the seven wonders of India in a poll conducted by NDTV.
It also has been scripted in textbooks in India showcasing its finesse in its construction.
Why the name Sun Temple, you may ask, it is so the temple is dedicated to Sun God.
14| Lotus Temple – New Delhi Modern Miracle
Delhi has so many historic places, and then it has the highest degree of modern architecture: Lotus Temple.
Surprisingly despite of so many other places to visit in Delhi, the lotus temple is the most visited place of Delhi.
The name given is because the shape is just identical to a Lotus flower.
Definitely one of the must visit places if you are in Delhi.
15| Akshardham Temple – New Delhi World’s Largest Comprehensive Hindu Temple
I was in a bit of confusion as which Akshardham to choose, the temple in Delhi or the one in Gujarat. It was a tough decision and I have chosen this one for no certain reason.
The Akshardham of Gandhinagar is also great but this being awarded the title of the World’s Largest Comprehensive Temple by Guiness World Records made it for me.
What say, am I right or should I feature the temple from Gandhinagar?
16| Jagannath Temple – Puri Eastern Dham
Dedicated to Lord Vishnu and located in the coastal city of Puri.
There are more than 100 different festivals observed in the temple.
If you happen to visit it then visiting the Sun Temple will only enhance your experience or else just sit by the shoreline adoring the sunrise and the sunset of the Puri beach. You might see some tremendous sand art by Sudarshan Patnaik.
7| Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple – Thiruvananthapuram World’s Richest Temple
After a treasure was uncovered at this temple it became the world’s richest temple leaving behind Tirupati Balaji. The treasure is estimated to be of more than one lakh crore with still one of the chamber yet to be opened.
For many historians the treasure found was of no surprise as they believe that many temples of South India may have such “treasures”.
Before or after the discovery of the treasure it remains a destination for millions of devotees. I recommend you must watch the video in which the temple is illuminated with awesome lights.
18| Badrinarayan Temple – Badrinath Northern Dham
Most importantly it is one of the holiest shrine of Hinduism. Also part of the Char Dham and the Chota Char Dham. This mini Char Dham has its followers from across the length and breadth of the country.
With Badrinarayan temple, the Kedarnath temple, Gangotri, and Yamonotri form the Chota Char Dham.
Visiting Badrinath is surely an exit from the hullabaloo of the city life and is like falling in the arms of God laced with mother nature.
19| Dwarkadhish Temple – Dwarka Western Dham
This temple of 2500 years old is dedicated to Lord Krishna. Just as is Badrinath of north, Rameshwaram of south, Jagannath Puri of the west; Dwarkadhish is the part of Char Dham pilgrimage in the west.
It is a five storey structure containing 72 pillars supporting it and is immaculately clean and pure considering that the temple was build nearly two and half centuries back.
20| Siddhivinayak Temple – Mumbai Heavenly Escape in the City
Siddhivinayak temple is the most famous and the richest temple of Mumbai. It is one which has got a sort of celebrity status.
On Tuesdays many devotees from in and around Mumbai visit it, some by barefoot walking throughout the night. Special occasions such as Diwali, New Year’s Day, Ganesh Chaturthi festival attract thousands of devotees which for a darshan could take as much as 6-7 hours.
So these were some of renowned and incredible temples of India.