Ravi is a traveler and foodie who loves to visit off-the-beaten-track places and understand the culture, history and customs behind them.
India Is a Mythical Land
To admit the truth, I am not an overly religious person. But being an intrepid traveler, I always make it a point to visit the religious icon of any new place I am traveling. My reasoning is simple; a visit to any religious place, be it a church, mosque or temple is one of the best ways to acquaint you intimately with the cultural fabric of that place.
The people, the architecture, and the social fabric inside the religious icon are nothing less than the miniature version of the entire place that would have evolved over hundreds and thousands of years. You understand the icon and you understand the soul of the place, simple as that.
And India is no exception to this thumb rule. India is a mythical land, and we have lots of temples that not only have fabulous architecture but tell us unique stories of the beliefs, cultures, and mythologies of the people residing around it. In the land of cultural extravaganza that is India, every temple act like a neon light, proudly advertising the nuances of rich history and vibrant people surrounding its aura of brilliance.
5 Unique Temples in India Worth Visiting
- Mahendipur Balaji Temple in Rajasthan
- Kodungallur Bhagavathy Temple in Kerala
- Bullet Baba Temple in Jodhpur, Rajasthan
- Chinese Kali Temple in Kolkata, West Bengal
- Sri KaalBhairavnath Temple in Adegaon, Madhya Pradesh
1. Mahendipur Balaji Temple, Rajasthan
Situated in the Dausa district of Rajasthan, thousands of devotees visit this temple only for a single purpose, to get rid of ghosts, evil spirits, and ill fortunes haunting their lives. This is probably the only known temple in India where priests carry elaborate exorcisms to control evil spirits.
The temple shrine has three deities Lord Hanuman (also known as Balaji), Pret Raj, and Bhairav. All three are worshipped to ward off evil forces and it is believed that the magical power of these deities would cure people affected by evil forces. There are no offerings or ‘prasad’ given by the temple and it is believed that one should not look back after visiting this temple as evil spirits would attack again if done.
The sights are quite disturbing to watch. You will find people banging their heads against the walls, women screaming in agony and some even pouring boiling water upon themselves as means to do penance to ward off evil forces. So, if you are faint-hearted and prone to disturbing dreams, avoid this place.
How to Reach Mahendipur Balaji Temple
- By Road: The temple is situated in Mehandipur village which is 99 km from Jaipur. Cab services are available from Jaipur city to the temple.
- By Train: Jaipur is the closest railway station that is well connected to other parts of India
- By Air: The nearest airport to the temple is Jaipur airport which is well connected with Delhi and Agra airports.
- Timings: 08:00 AM to 07:30 PM IST
- Entry fees: None
- Best time to Visit: Anytime
2. Kodungallur Bhagavathy Temple, Kerala
Kodungallur Bhagavathy Temple is situated in Kodungallur, Thrissur district, Kerala. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Bhadrakali, a form of the Hindu Goddess Kali. Situated on 10 acres of land, surrounded by ancient banyan trees, the path to the temple is replete with secret chambers and hidden paths, some of which have never been opened for the past 1000 years.
Now comes the bizarre part: every year a seven-day annual festival is celebrated in the temple which is called the Bharani festival. As part of the festivities, men, and women dress in red and march into the temple premises carrying swords and sticks.
They hit their heads and bodies with the swords, chanting abuses against the Devi and singing lewd songs. Blood flows freely and soon by the mid-afternoon, the temple floors would be bathed in a quagmire of blood and unconscious people in a trance-like state.
Even the offerings are thrown at the goddess and the temple rafters are hit repeatedly with sticks. After the festival, the temple is closed for cleaning the bloodstains and the “sins” accumulated during the seven-day festival. It is believed praying at the temple is one of the best ways to cleanse one of all sins and attain ‘moksha’.
How to Reach Kodungallur Bhagavathy Temple
- By Road: The historical town of Kodungalloor is well connected by buses and cabs to all major cities in Kerala like Cochin and Trivandrum.
- By Train: Irinjalakuda Railway Station is the closest railway station just 14kms away from the temple
- By Air: The nearest airport is Cochin international airport which is 27 km away from Kodungalloor town.
- Timings: 4:00 AM to 8:00 PM IST
- Dress code: only traditional dresses are allowed. Men can wear dhotis and women can only wear sarees or salwars. Skirts and Bermudas are not allowed.
- Best time to Visit: October to February
3. Bullet Baba Temple, Jodhpur, Rajasthan
Have you ever heard about a temple dedicated to a motorcycle? Sounds weird. Isn’t it? But it is true.
The Bullet Baba temple located 50 km from Jodhpur has a Bullet Enfield motorcycle cased in a glass. People stop by and offer bottles of alcohol, flowers, sacred threads, and bangles.
As the story goes, in 1988, Om Singh Rathore, a local driving a motorcycle through that area met with an accident and died instantly. The bike fell into a deep ditch and later the police recovered the bike and kept it in the police station.
The next morning, however, the bike was missing and after a long search, it was again found in the same ditch. Despite multiple efforts by the police to lock the bike and empty its petrol, the bike kept returning to the same ditch.
Seeing this, the locals built a temple around the ditch and started worshiping it by either offering liquor or sprinkling it on the statue of Rathore. It is believed that the ghost of Om Singh resides in that bike and protects all travelers from road mishaps. Women also pray to Om Singh asking him to protect their husbands when they are on the road by offering bangles, sacred threads, and even sweet offerings.
How to Reach Bullet Baba Temple
- By Road: Om Banna Temple is located on the Pali – Jodhpur Highway (NH 62), near a town named Chotila, about 53 kilometers away from Jodhpur. Regular cab services, buses, and rental cabs operate from Jodhpur city to the temple
- By Train: Jodhpur Junction Railway Station is the nearest railway station about 52 km away
- By Air: The nearest airport is Jodhpur airport which is about 52 km away from the temple.
- Timings: 6:00 AM to 7:30 PM IST
- Entry fees: Free to all
- Best time to Visit: October to March
4. Chinese Kali Temple, Kolkata, West Bengal
Have you heard about any temple whose goddess love gorging on Chinese cuisine? Yes, noodles, chop suey, rice-and-vegetables dishes, you offer it, and she would love it. Located in Kolkata’s Tangra area, the Chinese Kali temple is the only temple of its kind where Chinese delicacies are offered to appease Goddess Kali, the deity of the temple.
As the story goes, a 10-year-old Chinese boy was residing in that area who fell sick and was close to dying. Despite the best efforts, no doctor was able to cure his disease. Losing all hopes, his parents put him under a banyan tree near a nearby Kali temple and feverishly started praying to the goddess for his good health.
Then one day a miracle happened, the boy suddenly recovered and became healthy and well. His parents were overjoyed and offered Chinese delicacies to the goddess as a thanksgiving.
Since that day, the ‘prasad’ (holy offering) offered at the temple became noodles and chop suey and it became one of the most important pilgrimage places in Eastern India. This temple is one of the glowing examples of Indo-Chinese cross-cultural assimilation.
How to Reach Chinese Kali Temple
- By Road: The temple is in South Kolkata. Buses and trams are available from all parts of Kolkata to the temple.
- Nearest metro stations: Jatin Das Park (Northern Exit) and Kalighat (Southern Exit).
- By Air: The nearest airport is Kolkata international airport.
- Timings: 7:00 AM IST to 8:00 PM IST, all days of the week.
- Entry fees: Free
- Best time to Visit: Anytime. Wednesday and Thursday are the best days to visit to avoid the crowd.
5. Sri KaalBhairavnath Temple, Adegaon, Madhya Pradesh
Kaal Bhairav Temple is one of the most famous Shiva temples in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. The temple has a unique custom of offering liquor to the deity and it is believed that God Shiva would consume the liquor and bless his devotees to recover from any illnesses or maladies they might have. This is the only temple in India where the prasad (holy offering) is the liquor that is distributed to all the devotees.
Located in the town of Adegaon, the deity represents a fierce form of the Hindu God Shiva with angry eyes, sharp teeth, and flaming hair. He is naked except for a garland made of skulls and a coiled snake around his neck.
This angry form of Shiva has four hands in which he carries a noose, trident, drum, and a skull. Devotees believe that this form of Shiva has the potency to eradicate all problems, pains, and anxieties from one’s life and bring prosperity.
How to Reach KaalBhairavnath Temple
- By Road: The nearest town to reach this place is Amarwara town which is located 18 km from the temple. Taxis and private vehicles operate up to the temple.
- By train: The nearest station is Karaboh which is about 40 km from the temple
- By Air: The nearest airport is Chhindwara Airport which is 53 km away from Adegaon.
- Timings: 6:00 AM IST to 8:00 PM IST
- Entry fees: No entry fees
- Best time to Visit: Year-round
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Ravi Rajan