India is a country with history dating back to as long as 5000 years. The rich culture of the country is reflected in the lives of the people, and the heritage left behind. At the core India is a very religious country that consists of largest Hindu Population in the world. Offering prayers, hymning religious chants are some of the day to day activities of a religious Indian Hindu. It is estimated that India is home to more than 2 Million temples, such is the belief of Indians on Gods.
We agree that you might not be able to visit all these 2 Million temples, but you can sure visit some of them. In this blog we have listed, some of the most beautiful temples that are known for their architecture and design. It’s time to blend your vacation with some spirituality.
Meenakshi Amman Temple, Madurai, Tamil Nadu
The Meenakshi Amman temple is located on the southern banks of Vaigai River in Madurai, a city known for its temples and poets. The temple is a classic example of Dravidian architecture. It is dedicated to Goddess Meenakshi an avatar of Goddess Parvati and Lord Sunderswarar a form of Lord Shiva. As per Tamil Sangam Literature the temple was built in the 6thcentury. However, it was later destroyed and then again was built in 16th century.
The main deity of the temple is Goddess Meenakshi, which was symbol of woman holding an important position in the society. The temple premise is spread across 14 acres, and encloses 14 Gopurams, and a holy pond that is situated in the middle of the temple.
The temple is also known for its intricate carvings on the walls and the Gopurams of the temple. It is also popular for hosting the grand Meenakshi Thirukalyanam festival which happens annually.
Khajuraho Temples, Chhatarpur, Madhya Pradesh
Khajuraho Temples are listed as UNESCO World heritage site, and they are both Hindu and Jain temples. The temples also signify the peaceful coexistence of both the religions. The Kahjuraho temples are very popular and are frequented not just by the Indian Devotees but people from all across the world that come here to admire the architectural marvel it is. They were built between 885 AD and 1050 AD by the Chandela Dynasty, and depict the Nagara style of architecture.
The temples are built as a tribute to Lord Shiva. Khajuraho temples are known for their intricate carvings, and sculptures. There are many erotic depictions in the temple which signify the blend of physical desires and spirituality. These depictions are unique for a temple.
Initially there were 85 temples in the premise of the Khajuraho temples, but now only 25 of them remain while the others were destroyed in 13th century.
Ramanathaswamy Temple, Rameswaram, Tamil Nadu
Ramanathaswamy Temple is situated on the island of Rameswaram. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva, and is a pilgrimage site for both Shaivites and Smarthas. It is also one of the primary sites of the Jyotirlinga Darshan and constitutes as a part of Religious Char Dham Yatra in India. As per the Hindu Mythology, it is believed that this temple was built by the instruction of Lord Ram himself. He installed the Shiv Linga in this temple and offered his prayer before departing to Sri Lanka.
The premises that stand today around the main Lord Shiva Temple was built later on, during the Pandya Dynasty. The devotees of this temple also refer it as the Varanasi of the South. The temple is spread across a whooping 15 acres of land.
The Ramanathaswamy Temple is also known for the world’s longest pillared temple corridor with over 4000 pillars. Its hall of 1000 pillars is also very popular and a must see.
Brihadeeswarar Temple, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu
Brihadesswarar Temple is a UNESCO World heritage site and a top pilgrimage site for Hindu Devotees. The temple is dedicated to Lord Shiva. It is a classic example of Tamil style of architecture and the Chola Era temple architecture. It was built during the Chola dynasty around the time of 1010 AD. The main tower of temple which is also called as Vimana in local language is one of the highest temple towers in the world which is also a testament to the brilliant architecture work from those times.
The temple is also popular for its shadow play which means that the shadow of the tower of the temple doesn’t falls on ground during the noon time. The tourist’s guides will tell you a lot more than this about the temple that will sure amaze you.
The temple is built from granite and since long has also been a guiding force for astronomical alignment. Many parts of the temple track the movement of sun and other celestial bodies.
Shore Temple, Mahabalipuram, Tamil Nadu
Shore temple of Mahabalipuram is an architectural marvel and it gets its name for being situated on the shores of Bay of Bengal. Shore temple along with some other monuments from Mahabalipuram also has the UNSECO world heritage site status with them. The shore temple are known for their historical importance along with the scenic backdrop it has. Devotees visit this temple to admire its architecture and unwind by the coastal regions of Tamil Nadu.
The shore temple of Mahabalipuram is also known for hosting a popular dance festival in January which is a perfect time to witness the culture of the region. It is believed that there were 7 such temples which were built around 7th century, but only one of them stands now.
The temple is blessed with many cravings and scriptures, and is a classic example of Dravidian style of architecture. In evening when the temples are flood lit, they become spectacular.
Swaminarayan Akshardham Temple, Delhi
Akshardham temple of Delhi is a blend of traditional and modern day Hindu architecture. It was built in 2005, and was constructed by BAPS, Bochasanwasi Akshar Purushottam Swaminarayan Sanstha. The temple premises are spread across 2 acres of land and consist of temple complex, gardens, and fountains. The temple is built from Pink sandstone from Rajasthan and Italian marble, with no usage of metal in construction, which symbolizes the ages old mode of temple constructions.
The temple is dedicated to Swaminarayan, and also hosts exhibition of his teachings. The temple consists of finely craved and decorated 234 pillars, 9 domes and sculptures of many Sages, and deities. The temple is also home to life sized 134 stone elephants.
The temple also has figurines of Indian Gods and Goddesses, like Sita and Ram, Radha and Krishna, Shiva and Parvati, made of blend of 5 metals as per the Hindu traditions.
Dilwara Temple, Mount Abu, Rajasthan
Dilwara Temples are located in the lush green surroundings of Aravalli Hills on Mount Abu which is the only hill station of Rajasthan. These temples are fine example of the Jain style architecture and were built between 11th and 13th century. There are five temples that constitute the Dilwara temples and they are considered to be the finest piece of architecture and marble carvings. Many experts find it even more beautiful than the Taj Mahal, architecturally.
The five different temples of the Dilwara are dedicated to the five different Trithankaras of the Jain religion. The names of the temples are Shri Mahaveer Swami Temple, Shri Adinath Temple, Shri Parshavnath Temple, Shri Rishabdao Ji Temple, and Shri Neminjath Ji Temple.
In Dilwara temples you will find marble carvings everywhere in doors, ceilings, and the pillars. Dilwara temples are the important sites of pilgrimage for Jain devotees.
Jagannath Temple, Puri, Odisha
Jagannath Temple of Puri is dedicated to Lord Jagannath, an avatar of Lord Vishnu. It was built in the 12th century and the temple complex is spread across 10 acres. The main deities of the temple are Lord Jagannath, Goddess Subhadra, and Lord Balabhadra. The temple is also one of the site of the popular Char Dham Pilgrimage of Hindu devotees. It is estimated that the number of devotees visiting the temple every day range from 20,000 to 200,000.
The temple is also known for its annual Rath Yatra, which is estimated to be attended by Million of devotees. During this Rath Yatra three huge, Chariots carry the deities. In fact, the English word Juggernaut is also derived from this Rath Yatra.
People have such immense faith in the temple that they visit it to fulfill their aspirations. It is estimated that total number of shrines in the temple are close to 120.
Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
Kashi Vishwanath temple of Varanasi is one of holiest temples for Hindu Devotees. It is also one of the 12 Jyotirlingas, and is believed that the divine Jyotirlingas emerged on its own at the site. The temple is dedicated to Vishwanath, a form of Lord Shiva. During the period of Maha Shiv Ratri, there is a huge influx of devotees that come to this temple to offer their prayers. It is located on the banks of holy river Ganges, which adds more divinity to this temple.
It is interesting to note that the domes, or precisely the three domes of this temple are made from pure gold, which was donated to the temple by Maharaja Ranjit Singh in 1835. The temple is so old that it also has its mention in the religious scriptures, Puranas.
When visiting this temple you should not miss the evening Ganga Aarti. The lights and the hymns of religious chants make the surroundings divine.
Kailasa Temple, Ellora Caves
Kailasa temple of Ellora is one of the most beautiful temples in India. It is an UNESCO World heritage site, and is considered to be the world’s biggest monolithic structure. It carved out from a single rock. The constructors of this temple began from the top of the mountain towards the bottom. An estimated 400,000 ton of rocks must have been cut out to build this temple. The temple has a height of 60 feet and is 200 meter wide. This temple is absolutely an architectural marvel.
The temple was built in 8th century, during the Rashtrakuta dynasty. The temple has a finely carved tower, and is known to have carvings of Lord Shiva, along with many other Hindu Gods and Goddesses. It is believed that this temple was cut formed using chisels and hammers.
The walls of the temple also depict tales from the Hindu Mythology. The temple complex has many smaller shrines, a courtyard, and the main temple.
Somnath Temple, Saurashtra, Gujarat
Somnath Temple of Saurashtra is located in the holy region of Veraval on the coat of Arabian Sea. The location of this temple is at the point from where there is no land in between the shore and the Antarctica. As per the historians this temple has been destroyed and plundered 17 times by invaders and robbers. The present day structure that stands there was built in 1951. It was built in the traditional Chalukya style of architecture.
It is believed that Somnath temple was the first of all the 12 Jyotirlinga shrines of Shiva. The exact time of the construction of the temple is unknown, but historians say that it is at least more than 1000 years old. The temple is very popular amongst Hindu devotees, and millions visit it every year.
The backdrop of Arabian Sea makes it even admirable. In mid of scents of incense sticks and religious hymns for Lord Shiva, this temple feels more divine.
Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple, Srirangam, Tamil Nadu
Sri Ranganathaswamy Temple complex is spread across whopping 155 acres of land which makes it one of the biggest operational Hindu temple in the world. The temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu, and is a top spot of worship for the Vaishnavites across the country. The temple is built in the Dravidian style of architecture. The major highlights of the temple are intricate carvings and sculptures, along with the 21 gopurams inside the premises of the temple.
The temple is built in stone and has close to 80 shrines, many pavilions in the temple complex. The temple is studded with sculptures of the avatars of Lord Vishnu. The inscriptions on the walls of the temple depict Hindu mythology and the religious influence on people from those times.
The temple is also popular for its thousand pillar hall which was believed to have been built much later in the 16th century along with other towers built in that time.
Hare Ram, Hare Krishna!