20 Most Famous and Amazing Temples of India
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 (Temporary structure) 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 to 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
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 in India.
It is the most famous temple of Tamil Nadu. There are nearly 14 gopurams or gateways that are so magnificently carved out and beautiful paintings adorn the walls with 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.
Largest Temple of India
2| Golden Temple - Amritsar
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 are 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.
Holiest Shrine of Sikhism
3| Sai Baba - Shirdi
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 padayatra (Travel by Walk) from their place. Don't be surprised to see people aged 80 and children aged as less as 8 to take the annual pilgrimage.
One God governs all - Hinduism is Mono
4| Vaishno Devi Mandir - Katra
This is dedicated to Mata Vaishnav Devi and is one of the most visited temples in India. And to state a fact it is the second most visited temple in India. It is located at about a height of 5200 feet above the land.
The temple is very significant among Hindus and most of Hindus try to 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.
Mother Goddess Atop the Hill
5| Tirumala Venkateswara - Tirupati
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 wealthiest temple of the world until a treasure was found at the Sree Padmanabhaswamy in Kerala.
People here come over with every wish; some 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 kgs.
Most Visited Temple of India
6| Shravana Belgola - Hassan
Shravana Belgola is the name of the place where the tallest monolithic statue in 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. Sure I will be there.
Tallest Free Standing Statue of the World
7| Chennakesava temple - Belur
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 center flanked by many smaller ones on its left and right.
11th Century Wonder
8| Hoysaleswara Temple - Halebidu
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.
The Incomplete Marvel
9| Sabarimala - Kottayam
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 of Makar Sankranti, the Vishu, and first six days of every Malayalam month.
For the annual pilgrimage, lakhs of devotees take 41 days 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.
Place of Largest Annual Pilgrimage - 50 Million Pilgrims
10| Murugan Temple - Palani
The temple located at a small town of Palani much famous for its temple than anything else. It is one of the six abodes 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 into 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 go down well with Karthik. So He decided to leave the mountains of Kailash and took his abode in Palani.
Lord Karthik's Abode
11| Temples of Kumbakonam
Kumbakonam is a temple town and there are many famous ones here. Some of the most visited of them are the temple of:
- Adi Kumbeswarar
- Kasi Viswanathar
- Temples at Thirunageswaram
- Thiruvalanjuzhi Vinayakar
- Sri Vijayeendra Tirtha Moola Brindavanam
- Sri Sitaram Bhavani Sankarar
- Sri Rama Bhajanai Sabha
- Thirbuvanan Sarabeswarer
The Temple Town
12| Rameshwaram, Ramanathapuram
Yes, the Banaras of South. Part of the Char Dham pilgrimage.
Located at the very end of the Indian Peninsula separated from mainland India. The road, as well as rail bridge, is there to commute.
Just traveling 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 take place) as it was promised to Lord Rama by the sea god to pave the way for building the bridge.
13| Sun Temple, Konark
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.
Truly a Wonder
14| Lotus Temple - New Delhi
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
I was in a bit of confusion as which Akshardham should I 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 Guinness World Records made it for me.
What say, am I right or should I feature the temple from Gandhinagar?
World’s Largest Comprehensive Hindu Temple
16| Jagannath Temple - Puri
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 this then visiting the Sun Temple nearby 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.
17| Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple - Thiruvananthapuram
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 more than one lakh crore with still one of the chamber yet to be opened.
For many historians the treasure found was 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.
World's Richest Temple
18| Badrinarayan Temple - Badrinath
Most importantly it is one of the holiest shrines 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
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
Siddhivinayak temple is the most famous and the richest temple in 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 the renowned and incredible temples of India.
Heavenly Escape in the City
© 2012 Kannan Reddy