“The traditional Indian Mind has been for centuries and still is first religious and then everything else.”
What comes to your mind when you think of a sacred Indian town? It must be the sound of those temple bells, the pilgrims dipping into the holy Ganges, or the devotees offering their prayers to the Almighty. The birthplace of Hinduism, India is home to some of the most ancient Hindu temples in the world. The Hindu culture in India originated during the Vedic period and since then, it has flourished and earned its position in the world as one of the oldest religions.
Today, Hinduism is rooted in the cultural heritage of India. The Hindu temples in India are not only places of worship, but they have a great significance in expressing the architecture, religious faiths, traditions, folktales, and religious literature of the country. Though the majority of the population in India follows Hinduism, people from all different religions live in this country and respect each other’s faith. The Land of unity in diversity, Indian culture is an amalgamation of all the religions.
Be it Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, or Buddhism, every religion teaches the lessons of love and mutual respect. Therefore, the temples in India become a place that unites people together in positive faith and devotion. From Kashmir to Kanyakumari, every temple in India has its sacred beauty.
Here are the top 5 Hindu Temples of India.
Vaishno Devi Temple in Jammu and Kashmir
The Holy temple of Vaishno Devi is situated at the top of the Trikuta hills. The temple is 13 km away from Katra in Jammu Kashmir. Vaishno Devi, also renowned as Mata Rani is a form of Goddess Durga. The goddess is known to fulfill all the wishes of her devotees. Even, the devotees believe that one cannot go to the temple unless the goddess calls that person. There are three naturally shaped rocks in the temple that are worshipped as the three manifestations of the Goddess. The three forms of the goddess are Maha Laxmi, Maha Kali, and Maha Saraswati. The temple is located inside a cave where millions of pilgrims come every year to offer their devotion to the mother goddess.
The Holy Shrine board manages the site. It is a sacred trekking site where the devotees need to climb up 13 km of the mountain road to reach the cave of Mata Rani. Vaishno Devi is considered to be one of the 108 Shakti Peetha in India. The pilgrims require 6-9 hours to complete the trekking. The duration of the climb also depends on the speed and climate. Palanquins, ponies, and even helicopter services are there to support the devotees to reach the cave. Food, snacks, and religious materials are sold in the shops along the path. The faith and devotion of millions of tourists have given Vaishno Devi an important place among the Hindu pilgrimage sites in India.
Kedarnath Temple in Uttarakhand
The Garhwal Himalayan Range in Uttarkhand is the abode of Lord Shiva. Being one of the holiest Shiva temples in India, Kedarnath Temple in Rudraprayag District welcomes thousands of pilgrims every year. The temple is a part of Uttarakhand’s Chhota Char Dham Yatra. Among the 12 Jyotirlingas in India, Kedarnath is the most significant Shiva linga. Pilgrims are only allowed to visit Kedarnath from April to November as the temple site remains closed for the rest of the year because of heavy snowfall in this area. Devotees need to trek from Gaurikund to reach Kedarnath. The climb is very difficult but the strong faith of the devotees get triumphs over all the adversities of the journey. They believe that the journey is a way to achieve “Moksha” or salvation.
Lord Shiva is also called Kedar who is the destroyer as well as the protector. The Shiva linga is moved to Ukimath during the winter months of November to May and the worship takes place there. Surrounded by the snow-covered peaks of the mighty Himalayas, Kedarnath temple is located near the Chorabari glacier. The incessant streams of the holy Mandakini river glide through the valley.
According to popular belief, the initial temple was constructed by the Pandavas from huge stones of the valley. Adi Shankaracharya, a Hindu saint, established the present temple site.
Somnath Temple in Gujarat
Somnath Temple is home to one of the first Jyotirlingas among the twelve Jyotirlingas in India. The temple lies on the coast of Gujarat. We find the mention of the temple in several ancient religious texts such as Skandpuran, Rig-Veda, Shivpuran, and Shreemad Bhagavat Gita because of its immense religious significance. The temple is situated at the holy Triveni Sangam or the confluence of three sacred rivers- Saraswati, Hiran, and Kapila.
The temple has achieved victory over the ravages of time. Being one of the wealthiest temples in India, many rulers such as Alauddin Khilji, Muhammad Ghazni, and Mughal emperor Aurangzeb attacked India 17 times and on the 17th time the temple was attacked. Despite all the loots and natural disasters, the temple still maintains its sacred and glorious presence. The present temple was renovated by Sardar Vallavbhbhai Patel in 1951. Every year, millions of devotees visit this temple to pay their tribute to Lord Shiva.
Kashi Vishwanath Temple in Varanasi
Situated in the banks of the holy Ganges in Varanasi, the Kashi Viswanath Temple also holds one of the 12 jyotirlingas in India. Vishwanatha is another name of Lord Shiva that means the ruler of the universe. The cultural capital of India, Varanasi has become one of the holy pilgrimage sites in India because of this Shiva temple.
The tower of the temple is covered with 800 kg gold plating. Jnana Vapi or a wisdom well is placed inside the temple complex where only Hindu pilgrims are allowed to enter. In earlier times, Kashi Naresh or the King of Kashi used to visit the temple on the holy occasion of Shivaratri for paying his tribute to god. The significance of Kashi Vishwanath temple can be realized through its menion in many old Hindu scriptures. Intricate designs beautify the facade of the temple. Inside the main temple complex, there are many other small temples such as Vinayaka, Vishnu, Kaalbhairav, Avimukteshwara, and Virupaksh Gauri.
Tirumala Venkateshwara Temple in Andhra Pradesh
Tirumala Venkateshwara Temple in Andhra Pradesh is the holy shrine of Lord Vishnu, the preserver of the universe according to Hindu mythology. Vishnu is also an important figure of the Hindu holy trinity along with Brahma and Shiva. This temple at Tirupati town is one of the richest temples in the world which welcomes 50000 visitors every day. The temple is built in the Dravidian style of architecture. The walls of the temple are inscribed with marks from several dynasties of the contemporary era such as the Cholas, Pandavas, Pallavas, Yadavarayas, etc. Many traditional rituals are performed in this temple including Thulabharam, Arjitha Seva, and Head Tonsuring. Some of the primary festivals of this website include Janmashtami, Vaikuntha Ekadasi, Rathasaptami, Vasanthotsavam, and Ramanavami. Every year, the main festival of the temple, “Brahmotsavam” is grandly celebrated in September.
Your visit to India will remain incomplete if you do not see one of the holy temples in India. The temples not only tell the stories of ancient India but also give you a unique perspective to see the world just like Garry,. E Stevenson said-
“ You are never lost when you can see the temple”