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India is known for its temples – beautiful, serene places of worship - significant religious and historic landmarks.
These ancient, intricately designed and faithfully maintained places of worship are a must-visit for devotees and for all those who nurture an interest in history and architecture. Here are fifteen most famous temples in India.
1. Golden Temple, Amritsar
Also known as Harmandir Sahib, this gorgeous temple is the holiest place of worship for the Sikh religion, and one of the most famous temples in North India. Built in the mid-15th century on the banks of a man-made lake in Amritsar, this temple’s golden facade and religious significance are a huge draw, and see devotees and tourists alike, arrive at its doors throughout the year in significant numbers.
2. Tirupathi Balaji, Tirumala
Officially known as the Venkateshwara Temple, this hill-top temple is dedicated to Lord Venkateshwara, who is a manifestation of Lord Vishnu. This temple, along with its beautiful infrastructure, also has the distinction of being the richest Hindu temple in the world.
3. Maa Vaishno Devi Temple, Katra
Located in the foothills of the mighty Himalayas in Jammu and Kashmir, Vaishno Devi is one the most important temples in India. Lakhs of devotees undertake the pilgrimage to this temple every year to pay their respects to Goddess Vaishnavi, the patron deity of this temple.
Reaching the temple requires a 12 km trek. Devotees have multiple options ranging from walking to riding a horse or even a helicopter among others to get to the top.
4. Jagannath Temple, Puri
One of the oldest temples on this list, Jagannath Puri dates to the 12th century and is a temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Apart from being a spectacular architectural edifice and one of the char dhams of Hindu religion, it is also famous for the elaborate rath yatra it hosts every year.
5. Meenakshi Temple, Madurai
The Meenakshi Temple took its current, grandiose form in the 12-13th century, but it has been a place of worship for much longer than that. Located in the heart of Madurai, this sprawling temple is dedicated to Goddess Meenakshi (an incarnation of Parvati). Its wide hallways are always packed with devotees, and the three-storey gopuram or entrance tower over its gate is exceptionally iconic.
6. Ramnathswamy Temple, Rameshwaram
Located off the coast of India on the Pamban Island, this is another temple that is part of the holy char dham. The temple was built in its current form in the 12th century. Dedicated to Lord Shiva, this is one of the most famous temples in South India.
7. Virupaksha Temple, Hampi
This famous temple can be found in the UNESCO World Heritage temple town of Hampi in Karnataka. The temple is dedicated to Lord Virupaksha, an avatar of Lord Shiva, and dates to the 7th century. One of its most significant elements is its nine-storey gopuram which is nearly 165 feet in height. Steeped in a legacy of tradition and surrounded by relics from ancient times, this temple is the jewel in one of India’s most significant historical crowns.
8. Kashi Vishwanath Temple, Varanasi
This famous temple is one of the most attractive places of worship in the holy city of Varanasi. Situated on the banks of the River Ganga, Kashi Vishwanath is dedicated to Lord Shiva. The temple is also located right next to the Dashashwamedh Ghat, arguably the most significant ghats in the area. The renowned Ganga Aarti takes place here every evening.
9. Badrinath Temple, Uttarakhand
In the town of Badrinath, surrounded by the Garhwal Hills you will find the Badrinath Temple. Third of the char dhams on this list, Badrinath Temple is dedicated to Lord Vishnu. Its stone fascia and shimmering gilded roof make it one of the most recognisable temples in India. The momentous Mata Murti Ka Mela is celebrated at this temple as well.
10. Lingaraja Temple, Bhubaneshwar
Lingaraja Temple is one of the oldest temples in Bhubaneshwar and one of the most sizeable temples in town too. The temple’s main tower is 180 feet tall, and the origins of this ancient Indian temple date back to the 700th century.
11. Konark Sun Temple, Konark
This legendary temple favours Surya, the sun god, and hosts the famous Chandrabhaga festival in February every year. A good 100 feet tall, this temple was built to look like a chariot back in the year 1250. Though it has suffered some damage and deterioration, it is still a magnificent structure to visit.
12. Dwarkadeesh Temple, Dwarka
Another one of the char dham, this temple dates back over 2000 years. Lord Krishna is the revered deity here, and the primary shrine is a five-storey building built on 72 pillars. Legend states that this temple has been built on the very site of Lord Krishna’s mythical palace.
13. Brihadeeshvara Temple, Thanjavur
Another temple that’s located in the south India state of Tamil Nadu, Brihadeeshvara is an icon of the Chola Dynasty. This temple is ancient too, built way back in the period spanning 1003-1010 AD. You will also find one of the largest Shiva lingas in India within this temple.
14. Padmanabhaswamy Temple, Thiruvananthapuram
In the capital of Kerala state you can find the storied Padmanabhaswamy Temple. The city of Thiruvananthapuram actually gets its name from this temple, dedicated to Lord Anantha. Another interesting fact about the temple is that the Royal Family of Travancore has always been entrusted with its care.
15. Somnath Temple, Saurashtra
Another temple found in Gujarat, Somnath is an ancient place of worship. So much so that historians have been unable to trace how long ago the first temple was established at this site. The temple has been destroyed and re-built a few times in its history, with the latest iteration being put in place in 1951 and has become one of the most famous Hindu temples in India since.
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