Top 10 temples in India
Temples in the Hub of Hinduism
Temples are places of worship for followers of Hinduism. Though other religions like Jainism, Buddhism that refer to their sanctums of worships as Temples. Even the world famous Golden Temple is Sikh's most revered monument. I shall stick to Hindu Temple only in my compilation of top 10 temples.
I would like to clarify that this list is my personal creation and need not reflect rankings of any other individual or organization. Do keep in mind and heart that we are dealing with the Supreme Power and all Temples, being the doorway to him should be seen as equal. This list only places them in a random order that involves historical significance, no of visitors, excellence in architecture etc.
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Khajuraho Temple in Madhya Pradesh
World Famous erotic carvings
One of the most curious temples depicting the height of Indian religious architecture. It is actually a group of temples with a lot of common features. These temples are either made up of sandstone or granite and the carvings decorate both the inner and outer walls of the temples. Various figures in a multitude of sex positions adorn the walls and this is what sets these temples apart.
These temples are located in the central state of Madhya Pradesh in India. It is around 390 km form Capital city of Bhopal, 400 KM form Varanasi and 275 KM Allahabad. Chausath Yogini and Lakshman temple are one the most popular among the Khajuraho group of temples.
After coming to Khajuraho, visitors can roam in the Khajuraho village where they can watch temples like; Lakshmana Temple, Kandariya Mahadev Temple, Devi Jagdambi Temple, Vishwanatha Temple, Chitragupta Temple. Besides these in the eastern group of Khajuraho Temples, there are so many beautiful shrines, such as; Parshvanatha Temple, Adinatha Temple, Shanti Nath and Ghantal. Again, in the Southern group of Khajuraho, there are two famous temples named; Chaturbhuja Temple and Duladeo Temple.
The Khajuraho Temple
Somnath Temple in Gujarat
Imposing sea facing temple of Lord Shiva
Somnath temple is probably the oldest temple with a known history in India. I has been the symbol of Hinduism. it richness and power which Muslim invaders and terrorists have tried in vain to destroy. Every time it has rebounded with its old glory. The current temple is the seventh reconstruction initiated by Sardar Ballabh Bhai Patel and executed by K.M Munshi.
The original temple boasted of a unique architecture that had the chief idol suspended in the air inside the inner sanctum. Even the greedy and blood thirsty muslims invaders who ordered the destruction of the temple were awestruck by its splendor. The wealth and power of the temple has been the chief motive behind the numerous raids. The last invader, an eccentric fool named Aurangzeb, demolished the temple and placed a mosque in its place from the rubble of the temple.
The history of the temple runs way back into our mythology. It is believed that Moon God created a temple of gold in honor of Lord Shiva. Which was latter created in Silver by Ravana, then in Wood by Lord Krishna and latter in stone by other kings. This Jyotirlinga is a must visit place believer of Hinduism.
Somnath Temple on the shores of Arabian Sea
Kashi Vishwanath Temple , Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
The temple of Puranas
Standing on the western bank of holy Ganges is one of the most sacred temples of Hindus - the Kashi Vishwanath Temple. Dedicated to lord Shiva this temple has a very long history that finds mention even in Skanda Purana. The city of Varanasi or Banaras claims to be the oldest city with documented history.
The temple has a gold plated shire 15.5 meters tall. This is why its also known as the golden temple in the lines of Amritsar Gurudwara. It has been destroyed and rebuilt a number of times. Holkar Queen Ahilya bai was the the one to rebuilt it last time. Guru Govind Singh gold plated the shire with 1000 kg of Gold.
Temple houses one among the most revered Jyothirlingas. Being located on bank of Ganga it has higher reverence among Hindus.
Lord Jagganath Temple, Puri, Orissa
Where the half made god looks over the world.
Constitutes one the major Dhams in the religious Char Dham tour that is supposed to purge your sins. The beautiful stone structure overlooks the Bay of Bengal. Jagannath Puri is one of the most visited places by the travelers and the devotees of Lord Krishna. The shrine was built in traditional architectural format. It's a 300 year temple for Vaishnavas.
The shrine is dedicated to Krishna, Balabhadra and Subhadra. These three are the principal deities in the temple. Alike the "Lingaraja" temple in Bhubaneshwar, Jagannath temple is not allowed to the Non-Hindus. They can contend themselves by just viewing the building from the outside.The main tower rises on top of the inside of the sanctum. Other towers rise above ante-halls. The entire temple compound is delimited by walls on each side. There is a gate in each of the side. It is the largest temple in the state of Orissa. It has a compound paved with square rock blocks.
In the east the gate is the main gate which is popularly known as "Singhadwara" (Lion Gate). The southern one is called "Ashwadwara" (Horse Gate), in the west of the temple the gate is called "Vyaghradwara" (Tiger Gate), and the northern gate is known as "Hastidwara" (Elephant Gate). Each gate has huge stone sculptures depicting each animal flanking the gates.
The famous Chariot Festival (Rath yatra) of Lord Jagganath draws a million devotees every year.
img Credit : (indiadivine.org)
Puri Temple, Orissa - img credit (Lord Jagannath Trust - from Poster)
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Venkataswara Tirupati Balaji, Andhra Pradesh, India
The first ever spontaneously manifested Idol
The Richest Hindu Temple in the world. Has always been in news for the lavish donations and gifts vested upon the lord by big wig devotees. Records put it at the second most visited building ever, after Vatican. So you have to brave the queue for Darshan. It is also famous for the huge Laddoo Prasad that all devotees get.
Tirupati temple is dedicated to Lord Venkateswarwa, the 5--50 embodiment of Lord Vishnu and Lord Shiva and symbolizes destruction and preservation. The temple is been constructed in Dravidian style. There are three enclosures which are called 'Prakarams' and the auditorium on the main shrine called as ''Vimana'.
Image credits (neelanjana.wordpress.com)
Here you can visit places like; Padi Kavali Maha Dwara, Sampangi Pradakshinam, Ranga Mandapam, Tirumala Raya Mandapam, Tirumala Raya Mandapam and The Aina Mahal.
Tirupati Temple Image - Image Credit ( ahunavairya.wordpress.com )
Meenakshi Temple in Madurai, Tamil Nadu
Lifeline of Madurai
Meenakshi Temple of Madurai is very famous temple and is most sacred place in the southern part of India. The temple is a proud possession of Madurai city. "Meenakshi-Sundareshwara" temple is dedicated to the goddess, the consort of lord Shiva. The place has long been the focus on both Indian and International tourist attraction as well as one of the most important places of Hindu pilgrimage. It is believed that Lord Vishnu gave the hand of Mata Parvati to Lord Shiva at this place. For the people of Madurai, the temple is the very center of their cultural and religious life. The temple serves the basic religious hunger of the localities.
It is said that the people of the city wake up, not by the call of nature but by the chant of hymns at the temple. All the major festivals of Tamil Nadu are celebrated here with gaiety, most important being the Chitrai festival that is held in April/May, when the celestial marriage of Meenakshi and Sundareshwarar is celebrated, drawing a huge crowd of people from all over the state.
The sculpted pillars are adorned with the exquisite murals that celebrate the ethereal beauty of princess Meenakshi and the scenes of her wedding with Lord Shiva. At the Sundareswarar temple across the courtyard, Lord Shiva is represented as a Lingam. The pillars depict scenes from the wedding of Meenakshi and Sundareswarar. There are 985 richly carved pillars here and each one surpasses the other in beauty.
Meenakshi Temple is very popular among all the devotees, but also with the tourists. The temple is situated in a spectacular destination of ancient wisdom bestowed with eternal grace of nature. So, don't waste your time, come and experience the purity of the place.
Siddhivinayak Temple, Maharashtra
Maharashtra's ultra famous Ganapathi Temple
Siddhivinayak is popularly known as Ganapati or Ganeshji in India. The word 'Sidhivinayak' means the God to whom every pray comes true. Maharashtrian used to worship Ganeshji and "Ganesh Chaturthi" is the main festival of them. The Siddhivinayak Temple at "Siddhatek" is one of the renowned "Ashta Vinayaka Temples" in Maharashtra and is situated off the Pune-Solapur highway. The temple is situated at a distance of about 200 km east of Pune. According to the evidence of mythology, it was on the Siddhtek Mountain that Lord Vishnu invoked Lord Ganesha during his battle with the demons "Madhu" and "Kaitabha" and acquired Siddhi from him. This is also said to be the place where Sage "Bhrushandi" and "Vyas" had performed penances and attained Siddhi. This GaneshTemple is on hilltop facing north and built by the "Peshwas". This temple is located on the banks of "Bhima River" in a remote little village called Siddhatek in "Karjat Taluka" in "Ahmadnagar" District. The greenery and beauty of this area does not go unnoticed to anyone visiting this place. Siddhi Vinayaka Temple of Siddhatek is the second Temple to be visited during the Ashta Vinayak Mandir Yatra.
View of Siddhivinayak Temple
Baba Amarnath, Jammu & Kashmir
Holy Cave of Lord Shiva
Amarnath temple is one of the popular most temples of Lord Shiva in India. The destination journey towards the temple attracts so many visitors from all over world every year. 'Amarnath Yatra' has a very significance in it. According to Hindu myth, the cave of 'Amarnath' was the place where Lord Shiva reported the secrecy of immortality. The way towards the Amarnath destination is very adventurous, holy and dangerous too. But so many pilgrims dare to go there to fulfill their dreams of see the 'Lingam' made of ice in the very specific time span. Many religious people from the different part of the world do wait for the journey time. The very beautiful destination is situated in a narrow ravine at the beyond end of Lidder Valley; Amarnath cave stands at 3,888 m. and is 46 Km. from "Pahalgam" and 141 Km. from "Srinagar".
Though the original pilgrimages subscribes that the 'Amarnath yatra' (the journey of Amarnath) be undertaken from Srinagar, but the common practice is to begin journey at Chandanwari, and cover the distance to 'Amarnath' and back in five days.
"Amarnath" is regarded as one of principal Hindu Dhams. The holy cave is the residence of the holy trinity, The Lord Shiva. The guard of the absolute, lord Shiva, the destroyer, is present in the form of ice Lingam in this cave located at a more remote end of the valley of Lidder. This Lingam is made naturally of a stalagmite of ice which awakes and weakens with the moon.
The Lingam which is formed naturally of an ice - stalagmite one of the holy trinity and Shiva is considered as a living god. The Rig Veda, the most ancient and sacred book of India, depicts his presence in its hymns. Vedic myths, ritual and even astronomy testify to his existence from the dawn of time.